Not too long ago, the definition of a “virtual” office was a WeWork space or a local equivalent. These locations served many different purposes. They helped to provide a mailing address & receptionist service for smaller organizations and allowed larger organizations the flexibility they needed for overflow capacity.
However, as the pandemic forced compies to remote work, employees pushed their employers to build something different: A sustainable remote and hybrid work solution.
While remote working offers many benefits, many employees struggle with losing the casual and spontaneous interactions of an office. This has forced organizations to be more deliberate with communication in order to keep the team aligned and motivated.
Enter: Virtual Office Software.
What is Virtual Office Software?
Virtual Office Software mimics the environment of an in-person office allowing for better communication across remote teams by providing them with features such as virtual meeting rooms, water coolers, and simple collaboration tools. The best part about this is that it removes all of the hassles from having to physically commute or drive back and forth between offices.
However, it isn’t just the tools that help “get the job done” that make virtual office software special. It’s how they enable improved communication between individuals and teams, emulating a “regular” office environment.
In this post, we’re going to explore some of the new companies that specialize in virtual office software and give you a bit of an insight into what makes them useful and why they might be the right solution for you and your business.
Teamflow is a “collaboration software for knowledge workers.” The company that makes Teamflow aims for it to be the most intuitive digital workplace out there.
With Teamflow, you can create multiple “rooms” for your office. Some of these can be private rooms where you won’t get interrupted, while others can be more open and sociable.
Simply navigate the “room” using your keyboard and mouse, and as you enter into proximity with others, you can join the conversation as you would in real life.
You can use it with your clients as well, which means you’re not only restricted to your colleagues and other internal users.
It has tools like Slack-style messaging, video chat, and screen sharing. It also provides users with document editing capabilities helping keep co-workers and clients on the same page in real-time.
- Pricing: Teamflow offers several different tiers of service, and businesses with 10 employees or less can take advantage of the free plan. Larger organizations have different options, as do non-profits.
Spatial is an augmented reality platform designed for collaboration. Users can join from any device and appear as a semi-realistic 3D avatar of themselves. Users can upload 3D models, notes, and any other data on a shared wall or in the room.
The Spatial Augmented Reality (AR) platform brings people together from all over the world into one infinite workspace that truly brings the office to remote environments.
Spatial works with a webcam and can be integrated with devices like Oculus and Microsoft’s Hololens to improve how users interact with their environments.
- Pricing: Spatial pricing starts at $0 for individuals, with the next tier being $20/user/month. Discounts are available based on the size of the team.
Slack and Zoom and other similar technologies help bridge the digital divide but still aren’t perfect. Tandem helps build a more spontaneous and collaborative culture.
Using Tandem software and integrating all of the different channels your team uses into one tool, everyone in your organization has what they need anytime and anywhere. (Including Asana!)
Meeting up with teammates is only a click away and doesn’t require meetings to be scheduled or organized ahead of time.
Tandem offers features such as desktop sharing, video calling, live chat (including group chats), whiteboarding tools, and more, which will help bridge any digital divide between teams scattered across distant locations.
Gather is very focused on the impact of remote working on company culture. Gather gamifies the concept of remote working with cute icons and representations of people and places.
With Gather, you can easily move from virtual table to table meeting colleagues and friends in a more social manner. Different virtual rooms and offices can be created based on the function or team, helping improve collaboration.
Gather also provides some simple project and task management capabilities with shared documents and whiteboards helping make sure that all team members are on the same page.
- Pricing: Gather has different pricing plans available based on how it’s used. For smaller organizations (up to 25 users) it’s free and then fees are charged on a per-seat basis. Usage starts at $2/user and goes up to $7/user.
Virtual Office Software Improves Collaboration
All of the solutions discussed help improve collaboration and can help make the remote experience easier and more palatable.
We think they can be fun and beneficial for remote teams, they are one piece of a larger strategy for creating a sustainable remote culture.
It’s important to also note that while some of the options offer limited project management capabilities, they aren’t designed to replace the capabilities of a tool like Asana. Teaming Asana up with a Virtual Office could help increase the value of both of these tools.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to ensuring remote employees stay connected to the company culture. You’ll already be a step ahead by acknowledging the challenges and continuing to iterate on the best solutions for your organization.