Creating a Virtual Office Policy for Your Small Business

NEW YORK—The federal government has taken up the cause of telecommuting, and in the process online magazines like FederalDaily are offering some strategic resources for developing policies around telecommuting and virtual offices.

I recently read an article in the FederalDaily called “5 steps to a successful virtual office policy.” You can read the entire article here, but I’ve summarized what I feel are the key points below for corporations moving toward alternative workplace strategies and entrepreneurs building a virtual workforce.

1. Define your policy.

You first have to determine what a virtual office is. There are many definitions. So make it clear what that means to you before you write out any formal policy, and even include it in the policy.

2. Define a virtual worker.

In the FederalDaily article, the author discusses three times of telework: full-time, part-time and situational. I suppose the same classifications hold true in companies of all sizes that embrace telecommuting. Some virtual office users, for example, may only turn to these technologies while on the road while others may employ flextime.

3. Detail equipment requirements.

Technology is part and parcel of virtual offices. The FederalDaily article puts it this way: “A lapse or delay in communication due to a technology breakdown could result in a manger wondering why his or her employee isn’t responding, which could plant doubts about that employee’s ability to telework.” Enough said.

4. Develop security policies and training.

Since mobile technologies and virtual offices go hand in hand, you need to address mobile security, virtual office technologies security and perhaps even conduct some training around passwords, how to deal with stolen laptops, etc.

5. Formalize governance.

In other words, enforce the policy. And don’t just write the policy once and for all. Be sure to review it because, after all, virtual office technologies are changing.


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