A good virtual office design isn’t just a luxury for remote workers anymore. It’s a necessity.
With nearly 59% of the American workforce working remotely (including the 16% of companies that are remote-only), more work is getting done via Zoom calls and messaging boards than ever before.
Theoretically, that extra time not spent commuting to the office should be increasing productivity. While it has – at least in the eyes of many employees — there is no question that virtual work has its obstacles.
Good virtual office design can help.
Is your Virtual Office Design affecting your team’s productivity?
If you or your team choose to work remotely, here’s a list of what will help your team stay productive and what won’t.
What works in virtual office design
Individuality needs to flow through your team. That’s why having designated work spaces and a focus on developing a remote-first culture are so important.
When thinking up ways to help your team adapt to remote work, keep these two points in mind:
Individual work spaces
Sitting in the same space for hours on end can be monotonous, not to mention boring. That boredom will eventually lead to a lack of productivity, as employees’ energy lags throughout the day.
Smart virtual office workers don’t just have a single workstation, but several. They might do part of their work on the couch, check email at the table, and take calls in a dedicated office area. If you’re fortunate enough to have a large enough space, you can even accomplish this in a single room by rearranging furniture to create different workstations.
In some areas, coworking spaces may be available as well. For a monthly fee, you should have access to desks, conference rooms, and even soundproof rooms where you can take calls. Or where you can play PC games as part of a “team building exercise.” However, how you use the space is up to you.
Developing a remote culture
More people are choosing where they want to work based on whether or not that role offers the flexibility to live wherever they want. Instead of choosing to simply stay home, many former in-house office workers are now moving to their dream location since they can work remotely. In 2021, 40% of moves were influenced by remote work, so if your company wants to attract the most talent, this is a perk you’ll want to offer.
A remote culture is more than just a culture where everyone is remote. That’s a given. In order to make up for the camaraderie that most people experience (and enjoy) inside an office, you’ll have to lean into the remote atmosphere and create collaboration opportunities. Invest in the right tools that make their remote work easier, which will, in turn, boost productivity.
The one thing your employees won’t miss and don’t want to be carried over to the remote lifestyle? Any kind of office politics. Around 73% of employees would rather work from home simply to escape the in-person drama at the office. Find a way to encourage positive work relationships, and your employees will thank you.
What doesn’t work in virtual office design
Taking your team online isn’t as easy as setting up a cubicle farm for your employees. Some methods are outdated, whereas others can be distracting. Here are two things to avoid:
Outdated communication channels
In years past, a message could be handed from cubicle to cubicle with ease. If you didn’t want to get up from your desk, you could even send an email.
When working remotely, that ease of communication is gone—or, at the very least, extremely clunky. Most people receive dozens of emails every single day. With no discernible filing system to sort through them, many messages simply get lost.
New technology has come on the scene to alleviate this pain point. Digital mail services can now automatically forward your physical mail to your house. Videoconferencing is getting more robust, with virtual whiteboards and even digital “tables” you can sit at when having meetings. A virtual administrative assistant can make your life easier by scheduling meetings and handling administrative tasks that you normally hand to an assistant down the hall.
It’s also important to explore all your options, including learning management software that also includes communication channels such as video conferencing, chat, and groups. Choose a modern solution that has all of these features and makes training more enjoyable.
Too much clutter
Some people believe that a busy desk is the sign of a busy mind, but too much clutter in your virtual office can be distracting. A fun Zoom background is fine, but everyone should spend at least a little bit of time thinking about how they want their virtual office to look. Vector art, images, and graphics are all great things in theory. However, when it comes to virtual office design, they are usually unnecessary and cause clutter. Try to avoid visuals that do not serve a purpose.
Appropriate branding should be at the top of the list. Every sales call, virtual meeting, and presentation should have your logo on at least some part of the screen. You could even take this a step further by creating a virtual “building” to work inside, complete with a lobby, meeting rooms, and office space. While it may seem unusual at first, a focus on the company at large can help people feel connected, despite being at home.
Even if your team doesn’t want to go through the trouble of customizing their home office space, at least consider using an online background remover. Doing so is a quick and easy way to look professional while still allowing your team the flexibility they want.
What will your virtual office design look like?
A great virtual office is more than just having the right username – it’s about fostering an environment in which creativity, productivity, and flexibility can grow. The teams that make this an intentional part of their culture will be the company that is better able to retain talent despite the shifts in the economy.