Being mobile has never been easier. Technology makes it so you literally have your entire office within your pocket these days. The idea of being virtual and mobile might seem like one and the same. However, these ideas are a little different, and more than the technology itself makes them both possible. This week covers mobile vs. virtual offices and the advantages therein.
The entire landscape of the business world is unrecognizable from just a generation ago. How can a smartphone, paired with virtual office solutions make you unstoppable?
Expectations of the Modern World
A vacation/away email message used to mean someone was unavailable, and you'd have to wait for a response. Simply being out of the office was enough to be off the hook from client and employee expectations.
That all started to change with the Blackberry and the Palm Pilot. Then, with the iPhone and its successors, the idea of being unavailable went out the window.
Nowadays, employers and clients expect you to be available just about any time of day regardless of where you're located. In fact, you might be surprised by the actual location of some of the people you work with. It isn't uncommon for people to not only be on vacation but living overseas and still performing the tasks expected of someone in an office down the street.
While this may seem like an invasion of privacy, the fact is clients are serviced more completely and quickly. Those providing the services also have the freedom to be wherever they want at any given time while doing their job well!
Modern Solutions to Modern Problems: Mobile vs Virtual Office
The start of doing business anywhere is a smartphone, but it's not that simple. Certain software and services need to be in place to ensure security and efficiency. So for this portion, we're going to discuss the ideas of mobile and virtual separately.
This simply means that you are able to do something while not in your office. This may include accessing and responding to emails and documents, conducting online research, and maintaining text and voice communication.
To do this well, you may want to consider getting a phone with a larger screen or even using a tablet with mobile capabilities. This will ensure that you'll be able to read the messages easily and have space to type comfortably and quickly. Also, you'll probably want to set up your phone so that you can be aware of notifications as soon as you receive them. Finally, ensure that you install mobile security protection and work with your IT provider on mobile device management in case your device is ever lost or stolen.
While in the same vein is a mobile business, this requires you to be able to do more than just be available. For example, you may need to create and edit documents or log into an important line of business application.
To get the most out of a virtual environment, you would most likely want to use a computer or an advanced tablet, as the environment will mirror exactly what you use in the office. When set up well, you will not be able to tell the difference between work on your tablet or your machine with multiple monitors.
Similar to using mobile devices, security is the biggest factor when operating in a virtual environment. You want to make sure that any information that you are sending, receiving or creating cannot easily get into somebody else's hands. For this, we highly suggest not trusting in an unmanaged VPN. While they do offer a measure of security, they pale in comparison to a managed VPN connection or a true hosted desktop. Your connection may be secure with the VPN, but your origin or destination may be compromised. Proper management increases your security level. An equipped IT service provider can effectively determine the proper solution and deploy it for your staff.
Bottom Line: Mobile vs Virtual Office
In short, mobile business can be conducted fully on your smartphone and be taken anywhere your phone goes without the need for intense line of business applications or documentation. A virtual business requires deeper access and connection to your office systems but still allows you to work from anywhere at any time, securely.
Whether you work from a physical office or from a beach in Tahiti, mobile and virtual businesses are here to stay. Even if you currently don't feel it's necessary for your operations, just look at everything that happened in 2020. How quickly things can change. Creating a flexible work environment now can make any changes in the future much easier.
If you find that your organization isn't as mobile or virtual as you feel it could be, contact us today. The results seem simple but the setup can often be more complicated than it looks. You'll want to be sure to use someone with the experience and know-how to determine mobile vs virtual office for you and to implement the right solution.