Setting Up a Virtual Office
Deciding how to structure your virtual nonprofit office is the first step. You might opt to go completely virtual by keeping all your data and operations on servers in the cloud, or you may choose to have a small physical office but no full-time employees. Finding and retaining qualified telecommuting employees can be difficult when you’re strictly virtual, but online pre-employment screening quizzes and phone interviews can help you identify potential workers with a passion for your nonprofit organization’s mission. You can hire full-time telecommuting employees directly, work with independent contractors, or go through an agency that connects virtual workers and employers. Because transparency is especially important for a nonprofit organization, you should consider setting up specific digital record-keeping policies and reporting processes before you begin.
Managing in a Virtual Workspace
Unlike a traditional office, a virtual office offers no face-to-face contact between coworkers or project teams. As the manager of a virtual nonprofit organization, you won’t get the same kind of feedback and idea sharing you’d get in a physical office setting. Accountability can also be a major issue for managers in a virtual workplace, since you can’t see what employees are working on at any given time. Having the right technology can help everything run smoothly. Collaborative online work spaces let team members coordinate their efforts, while time-tracking programs and goal-oriented project systems keep everyone on track. If you’re managing volunteers, an online scheduling system can ensure that you have the right people where you need them most.
Tools and Tips to Make Your Virtual Nonprofit Office More Efficient
Communication is key to operating a virtual nonprofit office efficiently. Make sure you set up multiple methods of communication for employees, management, and the community you serve. This might include scheduled phone conferences, email, instant messaging systems, community forums, social media channels, and chat programs. Casual internal forums and chat boards can serve as virtual water coolers to make everyone in your organization feel connected even when they’re geographically separated.
Running a virtual office frees up resources and encourages collaboration with other organizations and professionals involved in the same type of work. Ensure a smooth remote working experience for your nonprofit’s management and employees by planning ahead and staying organized so you can spend less time on routine tasks and more time making your community and the world a better place.