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Davinci Virtual Blog

ALL THE NEWS THAT’S NEW WITH DAVINCI

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Our Top 10 Tips For Working Remotely

Working remotely is a fast growing trend among companies and solopreneurs. In 2016, it was reported that 43% of employed Americans spent at least some time working remotely. With flexible scheduling and work hours, many are opting for the beneficial option as apposed to the traditional 9-5 workday in office. Here are 10 tips for working remotely so you can stay on task.

1. Have a designated workspace 

It is very important that you have a specific place where you only do your work. It could be a spare room you turned into a home office, or you can book a coworking space. The idea is that you have space to spread out all of your work materials and were you can keep distractions at a minimum.

2. Make sure it is easy for clients to find you

Working remotely, whether from home or from a coworking space, means that people don’t always know how or where to reach you. By setting up a virtual office you can have an impressive address that makes you look professional, but more importantly that will make it easy for clients and vendors to find and contact you. 

3. Have the right work materials

Make sure you have the materials you need to get your work done, no matter where you are in the world. Everything from monitors and laptops to office supplies such as pens and paper should be in your office. Depending on your line of work you might also consider about having a printer, envelopes, software, etc.  

4. Plan ahead

Having a schedule is very important when working remotely. It ensures you get things done and helps to minimize distractions. Set small goals and deadlines to keep you motivated and prevent you from procrastinating. 

5. Stay in touch with your colleagues

Sometimes, working remotely means that you’ll be keeping company to yourself. In order to not let loneliness affect your work, consider joining a coworking space and  make sure you schedule in person meetings with colleagues, supervisors and clients. To make the most of your meeting time, make sure you book a meeting room.

6. Dress for the office

If you work from home you might be tempted to stay in your pajamas or lounge clothes all day. However, we recommend against it. Having designated work clothes and wearing them can help you get into the right mindset to be more productive. 

7. Focus on your work

Just because you are working remotely doesn’t mean you have to manage your own mini office. You will probably be tempted to be your own receptionist or mailing room employee, but you would be wasting your time. Instead you can hire a virtual assistant and focus completely on your work. 

8. Determine the end of the workday

An important part of planning ahead is to determine when your workday ends. It can be very tempting to keep checking emails even after you’ve “logged off”, but this can easily lead to burnout. Set your own schedule and stick to it.

9. Maximize your peak hours

Figure out when you  feel and are your most productive, and use that time lapse to your benefit. Some people like to start working early in the morning, others prefer the late afternoon. Everybody has different times when they are most productive, it is important that you find out which one is yours. 

10. Take regular breaks

You can only be focused for so long before you get exhausted. This can lead to your energy being drained, which in turn can make you more impulsive and less helpful. To prevent exhaustion it is important that you take short breaks throughout the day. Use these breaks to to stretch your legs, rest your eyes and have a glass of water. 

 

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How to Become a Successful Entrepreneur in the New Year

Now that the new year has arrived, it is more important than ever for entrepreneurs to have a plan for their business. If you are a business owner, you are probably looking for ways to become even more efficient and effective in 2019. The key to productivity is to reduce stress while making it easier for you to accomplish the tasks that matter. Here are some ways you can cut stress out of your life and achieve your goals as you move into the new year.

Eliminate Distractions by Designing a Home Office

If you are going to make a point to reduce stress, you need to have a place to work that will allow you to make the most of your time while separating yourself from potential stressors like clutter, noise, and interruptions. That is why one of the best things you can do for your business is to design a home office. Keeping your office at home will allow you to reduce the overhead costs of running your business while giving you a space you can design according to your own needs. Be sure to remove distractions, such as televisions and gaming systems, from your office, and invest in necessities like a high-quality internet connection.

Stay Organized with Business Apps/Services

Many entrepreneurs also experience stress as a result of a lack of time or a clear schedule. If you typically find yourself pressed for time, you may want to revamp the way you keep your schedule. Most online scheduling apps help you keep track of all your daily tasks by color coding them by location or urgency. You can also use them to set alarms to make sure you have enough time to make it to your next appointment with time to spare. Online calendars make it easy to manage your time without overloading your schedule.

Finally, you may also want to research apps that allow you to sync your notes, documents, and files across your devices. Cloud syncing apps ensure that you can always access any information you need, regardless of your current device. You can go even further and use online services to automate the intricacies of your business. For example, Davinci provides services such as live web chat and live receptionist to help you filter interactions from potential clients, and even use co-working products that can help entrepreneurs work together on projects.  

Keep a Detailed Log of Expenditures

While it is important to keep track of your work commitments, it is equally critical for you to stay fully aware of your finances. Keep a detailed log of the money you spend for your business, as well as the miles you drive every day. Each month, compile the information into the appropriate subgroups, such as office supplies and automotive repairs. Staying up to date on your expenditures will make your annual taxes easier and allow you to make better judgments.

Hire an Assistant

Finally, you may be able to further reduce your workload by hiring help. Depending on the size of your business, a personal assistant can take care of the standard daily tasks of your business, freeing you up to put your focus on the larger projects that require your expertise. Take your time when interviewing potential new hires, as you will need to find someone who is not only trustworthy but who understands the mission and the goals of your business.  

It requires a great deal of focus and determination to run your own business. By reducing stress, staying organized, and hiring additional help if you need it, you can make it much easier for you to accomplish your goals in the new year.

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How A Virtual Office Address Can Help Future Proof Your Business

With today’s rapid rate of change, organizations of all sizes – from solopreneurs to multinational conglomerates -- are wise to address future proofing their work environments to remain competitive. 

According to Collins Dictionary, “If you future-proof something, you design or change it so that it will continue to be useful or successful in the future if the situation changes.” 

Yet in a dynamic business environment in which change is constant and inevitable, it can be difficult to meet the needs of a future workforce and workstyle when those needs are not yet known or understood.  

The best strategy to future-proof an office setting is to embed flexibility and agility into the space solution, according to Kay Sargent, Senior Principal, Director of WorkPlace, HOK in Workplace Design.  

Such a solution is built around an infrastructure that allows frequent, simple and streamlined upgrades, particularly where technology is concerned, and accommodates such changes with a minimum of time, labor and expense. 

She also noted that people are more flexible than furniture and walls, so spaces that encourage movement and allow people to work in different settings at different times of the day will be more successful.  

One solution is on-demand office and meeting spaces such as Davinci Virtual Offices that offer inherent flexibility and agility, providing numerous ways to future-proof a workplace. 

1. Space utilization.  

With real estate comprising a company’s second-largest expense after human resources, optimizing space (not necessarily reducing it) is a critical step in reducing overhead. 

On-demand spaces allow users to pay for only what they need, when and where they need it, avoiding the all-too-frequent case of paying for excess space not utilized. They also easily and economically accommodate staffers who only need to be in the office on a part-time or project basis. 

2. Space flexibility. 

Future-proof spaces are flexible, multifunctional and adaptable, and provide multiple options for places to work, relax and recharge, socialize and collaborate. They include choices for shared and individual spaces, open and closed rooms, quiet focus areas and active group meeting rooms, respite nooks and gathering and eating spaces. 

Because their facilities are designed to serve different personality types and workstyles, on-demand offices and meeting rooms typically have many choices in work settings. 

Additionally, on-demand offices allow companies to easily add, reduce or reconfigure spaces to accommodate rapid growth or change when new projects arise, or other growth or contraction occurs. 

3. Furniture flexibility.  

A future-proof office provides a selection of furniture that can adapt to varying scenarios throughout the day or week. For example, it might be a modular system that can switch from desk to meeting tables, or a reception desk that adapts to bar service for an evening event. 

Because they typically serve a wide range of customer types, and often serve a clientele for whom offices are optional, on-demand office and meeting rooms aim to be highly flexible and appealing by providing the most up-to-date furnishings, amenities, infrastructure and support. 

Users of on-demand offices will also find more ergonomic furniture and the latest tools and amenities to support technology users, such as specialized seating, large monitors, footrests, monitor arms, convenient power access and hidden power connections. 

“The idea is to create an environment that people want to go to because they are getting tools and tech they can’t get anywhere else,” Julie Whelan, head of occupier research at CBRE, told Bis Now

4. Geographic agility 

Expanding to new geographic locations is another change factor that an organization may experience in the future. Coworking spaces, day offices and meeting spaces, arranged via online booking systems, allow organizations to expand operations quickly, easily and cost-effectively. Whether it’s an international expansion or regional relocation, they require low capital expenditure. 

5. Technology infrastructure 

With an average lifespan of 18 months or so, technology has the shortest lifecycle in a work environment where furniture is expected to last 10 years and a building itself lasts for 50 or more years. Thus, building an infrastructure that can be easily and seamlessly updated, without disruption to the office occupiers, is critical. 

For maximum workplace flexibility, infrastructure should be detached from the workforce, which makes virtual and on-demand offices an ideal alternative. Such spaces typically have the latest IT solution integrated into the space, wirelessly or with cable/wire management, facilitating connecting with new tech as it is introduced. Users can typically count on the latest power sources, which may be free-standing units, table troughs or other convenient connections. 

Additionally, spaces such as DaVinci allow independents and small companies to access and afford the same high-quality technology employed by large companies such as cybersecurity, top flight technical infrastructure, fast internet speed and ubiquitous Wi-Fi. Such services and amenitie are increasingly important to operations of all sizes. 

6. The Human factor.  

Future-proofing a workplace goes beyond the physical environment. It also addresses how to best plan for the human factor. Opting for an on-demand work and/or meeting space can ensure an environment that is more pleasant, productive and engaging for its occupants than a home office, coffee shop or other remote alternative. Among human-focused benefits such offices provide are: 

• Community 

While coffee shops, public libraries and other third spaces may provide companionship for solopreneurs and other home-based work, coworking spaces can provide community with all the amenities, security and professionalism of a formal office. 

• Agility 

A future proof office means not only an agile workplace, but also having an agile workforce. Maintaining a lean, specialized team, comprised partly or completely of remote and/or contract workers, allows an organization to flex up or down to meet their needs. 

• Wellbeing 

Environments that provide for wellbeing have been proven to lead to more positive outcomes for occupants. Such spaces foster engagement and collaboration, boost productivity and encourage movement. Some other ways they contribute to improving wellbeing are by providing access to natural light, good air quality, filtered water, healthy nourishment and comfortable acoustics. 

• Services 

As the workforce ebbs and flows to accommodate shifting workloads, the need for various services may arise as well. On-demand offices provide a greeter to humanize the work experience for employees as well as their guests. They can also accommodate unpredictable support needs on a pay-as-you need basis. 

Planning for a future-proof work environment, one that helps recruit and retain the best workers, achieve maximum productivity, foster collaboration and spur ideation and engagement, requires addressing the human experience as well as the physical setting. On-demand office and meeting spaces provide a solution to both. 

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Could Virtual Conferencing Really Replace Face-To-Face Meetings?

Almost two-thirds of companies indicate they have a remote workforce. The reasons are myriad, ranging from lower cost per worker, reduced real estate and related costs, and the ability to recruit and retain hard-to-find talent. This is changing how companies structure their workspace, including whether they even secure permanent workspace for all or part of their workforce (viz., more and more solopreneurs and small businesses are opting to use coworking spaces, day offices, and rented conference rooms). 

Globalization of business and the rise of web conferencing software have made virtual conferencing a mainstay. Conference calls became more than a static line with dial-in number and passcode. Virtual conferencing services—including a proliferation in provider options—and powerful collaborative features such as integrated chat, video, screen sharing, and recording and transcription, among many others make virtual meetings almost like face-to-face meetings. 

Rise of Virtual Conferencing

Use cases for virtual conferencing are vast. Possibilities range from business development and product demos, to regular staff or project meetings, to one-on-one status meetings, to client status updates. Thus, solopreneurs and small businesses are turning increasingly to virtual conferencing in place of face-to-face meetings on the basis that they reduce costs and increase productivity.

Yet, professionals still value in-person meetings. Eighty-four percent of millennials, who comprise over half of the workforce today, prefer in-person meetings over virtual conferencing. Specifically, the one-on-one connection that occurs in face-to-face meetings is immensely more difficult to achieve over virtual conferencing. Ninety-three percent of communication effectiveness is determined by nonverbal cues such as verbal and facial feeling. This is true for both workers you know and don’t know. 

At the same time, a face-to-face person meeting conveys that the topic and other meeting participants are important. They also give various meeting attendees an opportunity to form bonds with each other and to have one-on-one conversations that simply would not have occurred if they had attended virtually.

“To Be or Not to Be” In-Person or Virtual

So, where does this leave us? The remote workforce is only going to increase in size, with some projecting that it will comprise more than half of the entire workforce by 2020. This rapid growth is certain to guarantee continued adoption of virtual conferencing. 

Yet, despite these trends, the importance of face-to-face meetings remains as important, if not more important, than ever. Business leaders and individual contributors need to exercise judgement in determining which meetings should be attended virtually and which ones require in-person attendance. Let’s look at some of the most prevalent meeting use cases:

1. Regular, Ongoing Staff and Project Meetings

Reoccurring status and staff meetings typically don’t require in-person attendance unless special activities and topics—planning or news announcements—are on the agenda. While attendees who are in the same location as the meeting room should attend when possible, in-person attendance should be optional and remote workers shouldn’t attend in-person. 

2. Project Kickoffs

Depending on the nature of the project and the role of each attendee, in-person attendance is important, helping to ensure each member of the project team meets each other, including a chance for quality one-on-one interactions and relationship building. These project kickoff meetings lay the groundwork for subsequent project success.

3. Ideation and Brainstorming Sessions

Ideation—or brainstorming—sessions often play a critical role in helping businesses solve difficult problems and develop new business initiatives. Research shows traditional group brainstorming results in fewer ideas than if the individuals came up list alone. 

A recent Harvard Business Review article delineates a list of strategies businesses can employ to ensure ideation and brainstorming meetings are successful. Planning before the actual meeting takes place is an important starting point, where individual participants are assigned work beforehand. Other strategies include ensuring that evaluation doesn’t end prematurely and allowing participants to draw out their ideas. The above is difficult to achieve if meeting participants are virtual; in-person attendance is a requirement. 

4. Strategic Planning 

Strategic planning sessions are like ideation and brainstorming sessions when it comes to the level of interaction between both individuals and as a group. Further, as strategic planning typically isn’t something that can be accomplished in an hour or even a couple hours but rather requires lengthier sessions, virtual conferencing simply cannot afford the collaboration needed. Additionally, to achieve appropriate follow-up actions and maintain momentum, in-person relationship building is critical.

5. Annual Performance Reviews

Performance reviews are an opportunity to reinforce successful behaviors while collaboratively working with the employee on areas of improvement and development. As these occur once or twice a year, managers should make them count. And with most of the five senses playing a critical role in how the manager communicates with the worker, an in-person is a must if optimal outcomes are expected. Delivering performance reviews through virtual conferencing can miss the mark and result in workers leaving the review session frustrated, uncertain, or even angry. 

6. Team Building

When leaders want to inspire teams to assume new goals and tackle difficult challenges, in-person meetings are immensely more effective. This doesn’t obviate the vitality of virtual teams. Per the above, virtual workers who spend 60 to 80 percent of their time away from the office have the highest levels of involvement. The takeaway is that the 20 to 40 percent time they spend in the office is geared for optimal outcomes (powered by team building and collaboration). 

Finding the Right Meeting Location

Meeting locations count and often equate to in-person meeting success or failure. For businesses with permanent office locations and meeting space, it makes sense to host most meetings in one of your meeting rooms. However, in some cases, getting the team offsite helps them focus and gets them out of their comfort zones. Of course, for the millions of solopreneurs and small businesses that rely on virtual offices, rented meeting space is a great option when it comes to in-person meetings. Upwards half the cost of hotel conference rooms, rented meeting space such as Davinci Meeting Rooms comes with the professional accoutrement’s businesses need to have a successful meeting.

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How a Live Virtual Receptionist Can Increase Your Productivity

Solopreneurs and freelancers must juggle a lot of balls in the air. The balls come in different shapes and sizes—from scheduling meetings with clients, to finding time to network with peers, prospects, and partners, to managing your finances. And these tasks don’t include your personal responsibilities such as getting your kids to and from school, music lessons, and sporting activities, making lunch and dinner, and running errands. Little, if any, time is left once you’re done managing everything in your professional and personal lives.

If you’re thinking only full-time solopreneurs and freelancers are affected by the demands of flying solo, think again. Today’s gig economy is rapidly transforming the definition of work, and many professionals are hanging out their shingles for part-time work in the evenings and on the weekends. Others are putting their toe in the water and launching small businesses, while keeping their full-time “day” jobs.

When Solopreneurs and Freelancers Juggle Too Many Balls 

But the number of balls solopreneurs and freelancers find themselves juggling can become overwhelming. This is when a virtual receptionist can help. By simply tossing a few of those extra balls to a virtual assistant, solopreneurs and freelancers can remain focused on their clients and business. At the same time, they can become better organized, deliver better client experiences, and grow their businesses.

The concept of virtual receptionists originated in the 1990s and has rapidly grown in popularity over the past decade. They can do most everything that an on-site receptionist can do except for tasks such as brewing the coffee and cleaning up after a meeting. But unlike on-site support staff, which cost upwards of $39,000 for a full-time equivalent (FTE), virtual receptionists are much less and used on-demand (only when you need them). 

7 Ways Virtual Receptionists Can Improve Productivity

In a recent blog post, I outlined ways that virtual receptionists can help solopreneurs and freelancers improve their productivity and focus their time on things that make a tangible difference to their businesses. The following builds on that original list: 

1. Incoming Calls

Incoming calls from clients, prospects, and partners can become a big distraction and sap productivity. Virtual receptionists can field incoming calls, route the ones that you need to take directly to you, take messages for others, and push others to voice mail. For some virtual receptionist services such as Davinci Auto Receptionist, voice mail is transcribed to email or text. This allows you to see voice mail in real time and respond to calls with the communications channel that is most effective and efficient—email, text, or phone.  

2. Incoming Emails and Texts

Just as solopreneurs and freelancers can outsource management of incoming calls to live receptionists, they can do the same for incoming emails and texts. Based on predetermined rules, live receptionists respond to designated emails and texts (e.g., questions from prospects, order inquiries from clients, etc.). As these types of emails can quickly fill up an inbox, support from live receptionists can make the lives of solopreneurs and freelancers much easier. 

3. Scheduling Appointments

Managing an appointment calendar can consume a lot of time and energy. This is time better spent with clients and developing and executing business strategy. For solopreneurs and freelancers with clients across multiple time zones, the complexity of calendar management is exacerbated. But with live receptionists, solopreneurs and freelancers no longer need to deal with meeting requests and juggling appointments on a schedule. Rather, live receptionists can handle meeting request via phone, email, or text. 

4. Outbound Calls, Emails, and Texts

Just as solopreneurs and freelancers can outsource incoming calls, emails, and texts—or a designed portion of them—to live receptionists, they can do the same for some of their outbound communications. The range of possibilities are extensive including activities such as ordering supplies, making a reservation, or placing a work order. 

5. Customer Service and Order Processing

Any solopreneur or freelancer who thinks every prospect or client will simply call back if they get put on hold or pushed into voice mail needs to reconsider this ill-conceived belief. Research shows prospects and clients have a very short fuse. Being put on hold for a few minutes or needing to wait a few hours—or worse—for a response to a call, email, or text can prompt a prospect or client to go elsewhere. At the very least, in the case of a client, these delays can quickly erode a relationship, turning an advocate into seeker—a client who will entertain business with someone else.

6. Administrative Support

Running a business, even if you’re a solopreneur or freelancer, creates a lot of administrative tasks. Accounts payables, accounts receivables, and endless tax filing—to name just a few of culprits—can form a daunting pile very quickly. Virtual receptionists can help whittle this pile down, ensuring you’re invoicing on time, paying everyone on time, and compliant with the countless business requirements at local, state, and federal levels.  

7. Business Development Outreach

Building and growing a business isn’t easy, something that is even more difficult for a one-person shop when you’re a solopreneur and freelancer. Targeting the right targets with consistent communications—email, text, and phone—takes time and focus, both of which are in short supply for a solopreneur and freelancer. But with the assistance of live receptionists, business development no longer goes in spurts and stops; full blast when business is slow and crickets when business is thriving.  

Getting Rid of Those Pesky Interruptions, Regaining Productivity

Minutes count when you’re a solopreneur or freelancer. And just a few interruptions can add up to a huge amount of time. Research shows, for example, that it typically takes 20 minutes for a professional to get back on track after being interrupted. But the good news is that virtual receptionists can help minimize these interruptions and ensure solopreneurs and freelancers maintain peak productivity. 

Discover how live receptionists can help improve your productivity by downloading the report, “Davinci Live Virtual Receptionists: Connecting with Your Prospects and Customers.”

 

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