Why virtual office design is the secret to productive remote work - Orbital

Why virtual office design is the secret to productive remote work

Simulating the benefits of a co-located workplace can prove difficult when much of your team is working from home. Poor remote communication is often reflected in decreased productivity and employee satisfaction. Have no fear! Virtual offices are here to keep everyone on the team feeling productive, creative, and happy.

Virtual offices like Orbital are a valuable tool for managing remote teams. In this article, explore the role of virtual offices in enhancing remote work and tips for using design to increase your team’s productivity and satisfaction.

Graphic of three seating areas with avatars in them
Some examples of Orbital’s virtual office spaces

How virtual offices improve remote work

Create a real workplace atmosphere

The atmosphere around the workplace has a significant impact on the overall productivity of the team. With remote work, one new challenge you’ll face is maintaining the team’s overall aptitude and productivity because of the change in the traditional working atmosphere they are accustomed to.

As you work from home, it becomes increasingly challenging to manage distractions, be it from family, friends, neighbors, or the loss of psychological separation between work and home. Compare this to the traditional office setting, where you will typically be bombarded with visual and other sensory cues that you will typically associate with work.  

Virtual offices will help instill that same workplace atmosphere as we find in a geographically located office, positively affecting the team’s productivity.

Improve creativity and collaboration

In any environment where collaboration and interaction are encouraged, creativity blossoms. This is because each team member has the opportunity to express themselves, and there is room for discussions and interactions.

The traditional workspace environment exposes team members to challenges and pushes them to find creative solutions to these challenges. With remote working, the urge for creativity dwindles, driven by the change in atmosphere from work to a home setting. This can significantly affect the productivity of team members.

Virtual offices help to reinstate that traditional office atmosphere, putting remote workers under similar work conditions as in a geographically based office. This boosts their creativity and problem-solving capabilities, making them much more productive at tasks.

Impress potential customers and guests

Like in any business setting, customers appreciate it when they are treated like gold – they are the reason you run the business, by the way! They also like to see a certain degree of organization in the business. This gives them a reason to trust your goods/services and will attract them to become customers.

With working remotely, one challenge you’ll face is losing some organizational setup, important aspects customers and guests of your business like to see. But when you have a virtual office set up, potential customers and guests are impressed as you have restored a great deal of the organizational aspects of the business. The functional order and recreated virtual workspace instill some degree of trust in the customers and give them a reason not to doubt your competence as a business.

And as a bonus, the right virtual office tool should make it easy for potential customers and guests to access necessary meetings and expository, and this access shouldn’t be lifeless. They should feel connected, cared for, and personally connected to the meetings as individuals, and that’s where Orbital shines. The guest invite feature allows you to create guest invites for easy one-click access to meetings. No complicated meeting links or waiting in a cold, impersonal Zoom lobby!

Facilitate more frequent communication

Anyone who’s ever managed or worked on a remote team knows one of the most disturbing challenges to remote work is communication. What could be discussed for a few minutes in person takes over an hour of messages, delays, follow up and adjournments. That is a communication disaster.

In the absence of the traditional face-to-face opportunity, virtual office tools help replicate the same experience by providing a sense of availability of the person. They make it such that once a co-worker is available (not hooked up on another task or in another meeting), then you’re simply a click away from having a conversation with them.

Virtual office tools also provide good quality audio, and screen share capabilities to make communication a lot easier. They also provide virtual conference rooms for greater collaboration among team members.

Inspire better collaboration

When it comes down to the productivity of the team, it’s all about teamwork. No team succeeds because of the effort of a single individual. Success comes by a collective effort, and collaboration brings out each team member’s effort towards productivity. Team members are parts of a system, and each individual’s role must be well coordinated to count on the team’s general progress.

In any work environment, three things move together: communication, collaboration, and creativity. There is a better collaboration among team members when there is seamless communication among them, and this nurtures a favorable atmosphere for creative ideas and innovation.

The challenge of collaboration you would face with remote work is accurate, as the traditional approach of simply walking up to someone’s desk doesn’t apply. The way around this is the use of virtual office tools. The virtual office allows team members to better coordinate communications similar to in-person interactions, promoting collaboration and creativity in team members. Team members will be able to easily communicate their ideas to one another, all leading to greater productivity of team members.

Tips for designing your virtual office

Screenshot of two seating areas with avatars in them, and a toolbar with icons
Orbital’s virtual offices are fully customisable

1. Consider your weekly activities as a team

In designing a virtual office, it is crucial to take into consideration your weekly activities. Does your team handle financial statistics, or are you a tech firm? The kind of activities your team does weekly will determine the layout of the virtual office, as well as the tool to use.

So, before you create a virtual office outlay, take a step back and write out as clearly as you possibly can a detailed list of activities your team does, from invoices to emails. This will guide the virtual office structure and ensure the setup you choose will be relevant to you and your team.

2. Create a variety of fun and useful breakout areas

Like any other work environment, the team’s health is maintained by incorporating fun and non-work activities. In the same way, be sure to bring in helpful breakout areas in your virtual office. This could be an interactive group game, puzzle, or brain teaser quiz.

These non-work-related breaks and fun activities will keep team members excited and relaxed even within the pressures of work life. Remember that the shift from geolocation to virtual offices doesn’t eliminate the stress related to office work. So be sure to bring in a little fun now and then into the virtual office.

3. Make sure everyone has a personal space

Take your mind to a traditional work office. Notice that team members get a desk and a degree of personal space. Even when they all work in the same room, each individual has a space they can call personal, even when they do interact.

In designing your virtual office, be sure to give every team member a personal virtual workspace. They shouldn’t always have to work in a conference-type atmosphere where all they do is view all. A little privacy goes a long way to keep the team members motivated and creative in their work.

4. Brand your office space

While traditional workspaces can be expensive to brand and make personal, you can quickly achieve this with virtual offices. Don’t just go for a bland workspace – make it captivating and unique to you. You can import graphics and other custom layouts to personalize your office space.

In Orbital, you can choose from a pre-designed library of graphics, or upload your own to add more personality.

5. Help employees stay organised

Pay attention to organization, especially with communication and workflow. It helps create categories for communications and communication rooms as per the weekly activities you do as a team, which you listed out from point 1. Such an organization will keep the team at their best in productivity and ensure chaos is shut out the door.

Orbital’s design mode allows you to create unlimited breakout and conversation areas. This provides an advantage over “real life” offices because you can designate areas by topic (for example, “Social Media Planning” or “Growth Roadmap Sessions”) instead of having one or two available meeting rooms.

6. Break the fourth wall

As you set up the virtual offices, you mustn’t neglect the home settings your team will be working in. You should stress the degree of comfort they should have at their home offices. All the time and attention you give to developing a comfortable virtual workspace will be for nothing if the physical working conditions of the team members at home aren’t optimal. So, stress the need for a comfortable chair, the proper working table/desk, and a well-organized environment for work. All these will affect the productivity of team members as they use the virtual office.

Virtual offices solve a great deal of the challenges posed by remote working, and as you apply these tips, you will experience a jump in your team’s productivity as they use a virtual office.

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