Tag Archives: Virtual Office

Digital Transformation and Why a Virtual Office is the ‘New Normal’.

digital transformation

digital transformation

I have noticed a clever meme floating around on social media this month – “who spearheaded your company’s digital transformation?” Answer “Covid-19”.   Yes, it’s undoubtedly true that when things have settled enough for us to look back on the disruption of 2020 we will see Covid-19 being the catalyst we had been waiting for to rationalise the way we work and let office practise catch up with digital reality.  Indeed, experts had warned against the false sense of security many companies had that the warmer weather and the general easing of restrib=ctions would return us to a landscape not wholly different from what we had known in the past.

Without a vaccine readily available, many organizations are continuing to encourage their workers to work remotely. In July, Google became the first major organization to formally extend its work-from-home policy until summer 2021. Other large organizations such as the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis, and Japanese technology company Fujitsu took a further step in their digital transformation by announcing “indefinite”  flexible and remote working policies for their employees.

Socially distanced work, a novelty only four months ago, has now become the “new normal.”  But are countries prepared to make near-term improvements and plan investments for the longer-term, beyond the immediate crisis?  And where do they start?  This is a macro policy consideration but it is important to think about.  In order to have a Work From Home (WFH) new normal we need certain structural elements in place.  Not all countries are equal in meeting the challenge.

A study by Harvard Business School shows that America (of course!!!) is well equipped for the challenge as is the UK.  But many other European countries do not have a reliable enough digital framework to support a distance-working economy. For business leaders, it raises new possibilities for recruiting and hiring new and diverse talent. Unbound by the constraints of physical headquarters or office locations, executives are free to hire talent in new locations, provided that adequate network infrastructure exists for remote working. This enables companies to recruit and manage staff well outside their normal base of operation.  There is a vast pool of talent sitting around on short term recruitment platforms such as Upwork and Fiverr and now, People Per Hour.   This influx of new overseas talent means that UK freelancers must work ever more efficiently to compete and thrive in our new world order of digital transformation.

digital transformation freelance

Having an efficient virtual office based in the centre of London helps make this possible and gives a big tactical advantage to small businesses and freelancers working from home.  Being able to get your phone calls answered professionally by British staff and mail forwarded through the fastest UK mail channels gives a huge advantage which will be more apparent as the working world changes.   This is a good moment to talk with the team at Hold Everything on London’s Regent Street.   We have been preparing for this enormous paradigm shift for the last 30 years.  We knew it had to happen eventually, commercial properties are expensive to rent and very wasteful on space and resources.  Employing full-time staff to answer 20 phone calls a day is an anachronism, it only makes sense to pay for what you actually need.   We can show you how you can boost your business or freelance profile and save money doing so.   Forwarding mail and answering your phone is just a small part of what is entailed in a virtual office.   We can help you, from company formation to your IPO, We want to help you make sense of Post Covid-19 business.

Working From Home Will Establish a Different Kind of Business Landscape.

home working
working from home

London, Frankfurt, Paris, New York,  each of these huge global cities are related in that they are major nerve centres of creativity. These cities started to buzz for a reason: vital business meetings of national importance were taking place, Business owners and idea makers were putting their heads together to invent exciting new technologies, and go-getters met over flaming sambuca’s and expresso coffees to discuss startup ideas.  Now we all seem to be working from home in social isolation.

The physical setting really did matter; the bricks and mortar of a downtown office block and the in-person interaction that comes with that. Yet, in a step toward making distant work a lasting future, Facebook and Google, for example, told their staffs that they can work from home until July 2021. We know that the nature of jobs has changed into ‘digital by default’ so this is the result we might reasonably expect.

Indeed, a study by Google on distance workers found “no difference in the effectiveness, productivity ratings or promotions for individuals and teams whose work requires teamwork with coworkers around the world versus ‘Googlers’ who spend the majority of their daily collaborating with colleagues in the same office.”.

Nevertheless, some people might justifiably claim that staff working from home could potentially hinder product development and innovation. Tyler Cowen writing in Bloomberg said that “Even as tech companies grow more essential, the geographic distribution of company activity will also make them less unique. They’ll start to resemble a typical cross-section of the workforce, with all of the routines and bureaucracy that most other companies experience. They’ll have less fire in the belly to disrupt and overturn previous institutions.”

This is not a completely new trend. IBM, the pioneer of teleworking, eliminated nearly all of its office work years ago, and then released a report entitled “Challenging the modern myths of remote working, the evidence for the upside of teleworking.” Back in 2014, they boasted about their innovative modern business model with over 45 per cent of their employees working from home. But one also has to consider that WFH on a large scale can destroy the innovation hubs that have popped up in places like silicon valley or Shoreditch in East London.

silicon valley

Offices have been discarded for Discord Servers, Zoom, Slack Channels and the like. Over the last few months, multiple news sources have confirmed that people are forsaking from cities towards urban and rural areas. Could this Covid-19 pandemic really decentralize tech opportunities out of just a few hotspots, such as London and New York?.

These developments have huge ramifications for the global innovation landscape as a whole.  Here at hold Everything we see the future being mapped out before our eyes.  Large office suites are being rationalised into more compact meeting areas with employees working out from their homes.  The sprawling office of the past has turned into an agile set of services, call answering, mail forwarding and meeting rooms by the hour.

Nevertheless, to say that working from home will mark the end of innovation is an exaggeration. As per Raconteur and Professor Bernd Irlenbusch, who co-led a study titled Innovation and communication media in virtual teams: an experimental study, by the University of Cologne and Leibniz University Hannover, “Previous research has shown that creative performance is significantly lower when there is no face-to-face communication. However, the current lockdown has fostered the adoption of new technologies to conduct collaborative tasks when team members work from home. Video conferencing can mitigate the gap in creative performance.”.

virtual work

We will work remotely but human contact is part of our human makeup and we will need to set up new routines with augmented reality (such as social online meetings) that can be put in place to foster collaboration and more human-like meetings instead of solely relying on cold, unemotional Zoom meetings.

The most important takeaway that emerges is that working from home means that a new species of entrepreneur has emerged, and those who adapt quickest will be best-suited moving forward.  Hold Everything will be there to help with our fully serviced, totally agile, virtual office.

 

Building a Virtual Team – How to Stop Being a One-Man-Band.

virtual team in action

a virtual team

The One-Man-Band.

Let’s discuss the one-man band syndrome. I don’t know if its a syndrome but here at Hold Everything  I see a lot of entrepreneurs struggling to grow beyond this point without adding a dozen of other stress and anxieties to their plate.

The majority of marketeers start out as a “freelance” type of marketer to customers, 1 on 1 before building an agency and then scaling to a full fledged business.

Why is that some marketers can’t seem expand beyond a one man band? In today’s post I want to shine the light on what I feel the main reasons are in hope that I can point you in the right direction for building your own virtual team.

Sometimes You Need to Go Back to Go Forward

This is a big growth curve which I really feel everybody needs to go through if they want to scale beyond themselves.

It’s based around the idea of: “You can not move beyond where you are by doing what you’ve always done”.

Common sense I know but most marketers are trying so hard to hold onto what they are doing whilst also trying to scale. Something must give.

In this case you need to go backwards initially before you can go ahead into a new pathway.

In this particular instance, you need to decrease and slow the speed of your business down which yes, may mean you might be earning less for a few weeks or even months before you accelerate by adding a virtual team to your business and getting them up to speed as a production line.

Finding The Right Talent For Your Team.

virtual team in action

There is also a lot of confusion about where to find talent for your virtual team. Should you employ A-Players? (the reply is no) Should you ask inside Facebook groups? How about Fivver or oDesk or People Per Hour or even Legiit?

The truth is that it matters not where you commence hiring and building a virtual team from, provided that you kick off building them.

Progress forward is better than no progress at all. However, personally, I have a lot of success using Odesk.  You need to write very specific job postings and a take time to filter through talent to find out the right people for the job.

But Can I Afford to Build a Virtual Team?

I could answer this with the most annoying response possible which would be, “You cant afford to NOT afford to build a virtual team”. As corny as that sounds, there is a lot of truth to this.

Building a virtual team and building your production line should be your number 1 priority alongside closing sales and serving clients.

It’s not the action of building a crew that is what you’re chasing but rather what comes at the tail end of having a virtual team. Speed of service, more predictable and steady results for customers and a general surge in your sales volume.

However there comes a moment when ever marketer must make the and leap and decide that this month, they’re really going to begin developing their own dream team.

Best of all, when you adhere to a “production line” mentally to building your team its generally easier and a lot more lucrative. It’s not unheard of to have a virtual team that costs $6 per hour generate the same quality as a $120 p/h contractor.

What If they walk off with my clients?

This is a big argument I hear from new marketers who are trying to get their heads around developing a team.

They are stressed that the contractors, freelancers and the virtual team they build are simply going to turn around and steal their clients.

This may be a feasible case when you only work with A-Players who are all round problem solvers and creative geniuses. However, when your business and the clients results are built on strategies and an assembly line process– No single specialist or team member can take your client.

Your client’s results are not dependable on an individual contractor instead they are dependable on the system you have developed, your production line, not your team.

The second reason why this is extremely unlikely is that if a contractor wanted to have their OWN clients, they wouldn’t be working for you. Simple as that. A contractor desires to do what they are efficient at without the drama of managing clients.

Sorry You Are Not the Only Genius.

you need a virtual team

I’m sorry to break it to you but you are not the only genius around.

You are not the only “best’ professional at your craft as a marketer, if that be e-Commerce, head-hunting or sales.  For some reason marketers tend to think that nobody else in the whole world could ever be comparable them OR will they ever find someone who is capable to produce the same top-notch results that they can for a their clients.

But when you begin to build a team around your system you will realise  hat your virtual team will be able to get the exact same result because you have made the effort to build a predicable production line that allows anybody from any country, to step in, press a few buttons and generate the same result as though you had done it personally.

There are many reasons why marketers get stuck being a one man band. It may be because of growing too quickly where they were suddenly booked out all at once with no time to think about building a team.

Or it may be because they have a hard time saying no.

The above reasons are a lot deeper than what simply scratches the surface.

The truth of the matter is that all marketer seriously need to think about building support mechanism around them in the context of a virtual team.

The quicker a team is put in place the quicker the business can begin to scale and the less the marketer becomes a one-man band. Remember that building a team is even easier if you are controlling it from a hub such as Hold Everything.

Working From Home With Kids – Survival Tips.

working from home with kids

 

In the course of our working week we speak to many clients who are adjusting to working at home with kids around.  What has become apparent is that most of them set the bar way too high.  I can assure you from having spoke to so many homeworkers that you need to be realistic in how you organise your time and your parenting.

It’s All About Survival

Now is the time to embrace what work-from-home parents discovered long ago– it’s not about winning the gold; it’s about aiming for the bronze. This is a perfect moment to finally recognise just how much you’ve been coached to perform parenting. To occupy those little minds with creative and imaginative games.  To turn out Nigella-style brownies and then to head into  Highgate Woods and make daisy chains or whatever it is you’ve been doing out there. YOU are NOT the ‘Domestic Goddess.’  You are just a parent working from home with kids.  It’s time to be basic.

Set a Realistic Schedule

The other day a Hold Everything client who has been homeschooling her kids for a more than a year explained it all to us. So now we can explain it all to you.

Depending on your kid’s age, the support their school is able to deliver, and what your kid can reasonably put up with or do on their own, make a basic, manageable schedule you all can follow (because it’s not only their schedule now, it’s yours, too). Bottom line: You are not an authentic school. Nobody expects you to be a real school. You are just a mum working from home with kids. The very best you can aim for is your kid having something a bit educational or enjoyable to do on the days you work. My homeschool “days” were more like a few hours. I repeat: This is not real school. You can’t replicate a real school. Stop trying.

Food, Water, Fresh Air

The most important items on that timetable, she explained,  are activities that seem incredibly boring but are unquestionably critical and somehow also easy to discontinue, she needed  to recognise that while she would ensure her kids were fed or they went outdoors to play she  would be having a cup of coffee for a meal while hunched over her monitor for hours at a time.  Then, not at all surprisingly she’d really lose her temper with her children by 11 a.m. or even earlier. You need to eat, drink and stretch your legs. Eating can be a sandwich, a drink can be water, outside time can be walking the dog  or a quick trip to the corner shop.. You might believe you can’t afford the time to do those 3 things, but as my client said, you really need to do them.

mum working from home with kids

Reboot Your Brain.

If you take away nothing else about this advice on working from home working from home (with or without kids) let it be this– your brain really needs breaks to work well. Our work experiences from the day we first set foot in an office is we should be grinding away in front of a screen in order to do our jobs well. But that is really nonsense..

We don’t understand that office jobs actually have some breaks included, even if they don’t feel like breaks. A colleague passes by to chat, you pop out to pick up lunch, even meetings take you away from having a constant focus. Working from home with kids we try to replicate what we believe is the nonstop focus we have at work (again: we don’t) and wonder why it doesn’t, well, work. It’s because it is not possible and bad for you. So rather than thinking of helping your kids or making them a snack as taking time away from your own work-related tasks, acknowledge these moments as brief breaks that will allow your brain to reset, and will eventually make your work time a bit more productive once you return to it.

All in the Same Boat.

If distance working from home with kids is a novelty for you then you’re benefiting from a time when so many others are experiencing more or less the same level of disruption. Everyone has kids peeping in on their video calls. Everyone’s dogs are barking loudly in the background. That’s what on/off buttons are for on webcams.   We all know work is going to suffer and parenting will  also be negatively affected we can’t escape from any of that.. There is no glittering prize waiting for us at the end of this.  On the plus side, you know that that you have the amazing support of the team at Hold Everything to help you through, to answer your phone and check your mail.  As all our clients know, we make working from home, with or without kids, a workable solution.

 

 

 

Mail Forwarding Service Continues in Spite of Royal Mail Saturday Suspension.

mail delivery service

mail forwarding service

Our own mail service will not be impacted by the Royal Mail announcement that it will suspend its Saturday delivery services due to Corona virus.  This is what we understand to be the situation:

A statement on the Royal Mail website said: “Our postmen and postwomen are working very hard across the UK in challenging conditions.

“As we said at the start of the coronavirus crisis, there will be some disruption to services. Relevant factors include high levels of coronavirus-related absences and necessary social distancing measures.

We understand the importance of the postal service in keeping the UK connected at this time. We have also listened to our hard-working colleagues who have asked us to ease the additional burden on them if possible. As a result, we are making some temporary changes to postal services.”

As a leading mail forwarding service we know just how important it is that businesses receive their mail in a timely fashion.  We also know how disruptive and stressful the current pandemic is.  We are working day and night to keep our clients supported with a mail forwarding service that is dependable and effective under all circumstances.  We can reassure our clients that our own mail forwarding service will not be adversely affected.

We hope, of course, that the suspensions will only be temporary and does not itself lead to more conflict with the postal unions who are already in discussion with Royal Mail over work reductions within the service.

The team at Hold Everything are working flat out to provide all full range of virtual office services for our many clients and we will keep you advised of any development in the postal system..  We are open for business and you can call us anytime on 0207 5804242.   We are here to support the business community during the Coronavirus restrictions and give the ‘work from home’ community a virtual office service that can be totally relied upon.