More and more companies are moving from “brick and mortar” offices or stores to a virtual environment. For nonprofits, this can be a great way to save money on overhead, increase staff satisfaction, and make it easier to hire a team. A virtual team can do much of the same work as an in-office team, and for organizations already working on limited budgets, this can be a great solution. But what are the challenges of transitioning to this type of work environment?
Maintaining Great Customer Service
It should come as no surprise that it’s easier to establish a personal relationship with people that you see face-to-face. Moving from a traditional office with in-person meetings to virtual communication can make these types of relationships more difficult to create. Virtual receptionists are a great way to have phones answered any time of the day, but it can slow down communication. Instead of having trained staff answer the phones and address questions or concerns immediately, the receptionist will have to take a message and send it to you or your team before you can get back to the prospect.
If your presence is only going to be online, it’s important to keep the channels of communication open. People should be able to reach you by email, chat, phone, or social media anytime. Your team will need to be even more responsive than they were in the office, and it may require additional training or changing staff or volunteer hours. If you are no longer accessible to your audience, the benefits of moving to a virtual environment won’t matter.
Increased Online Presence
When working in an exclusively virtual environment, your online presence is the only way that you can get information out to the public. This means that your website has to look professional, contain a lot of information, be easy to access.
If your organization did not previously have a social media strategy, it’s time to develop one and implement it as soon as possible. It can make or break your organization. You can find more information about optimizing your social media here.
New Administrative Systems
It’s easy to think about all of the things you won’t have to worry about with a virtual office: maintenance, paying utilities, leasing an office space, etc. However, there will need to be new systems in place to effectively monitor employees and make sure productivity stays at the same levels. Working virtually is not for everyone, so it’s recommended that you increase accountability for staff to make sure they are able to work independently. Systems such as time sheets, more frequent meetings, and shared project management websites can help manage tasks and time logs. These project management systems can also keep CRM and contact information in one place, so your team can access it no matter where they are.
Moving to a virtual environment can relieve a lot of financial pressure for your nonprofit, but there are many aspects to consider before you take that step. New systems need to be put in place to ease the transition, and your online presence will be more important than ever.
Is your nonprofit still in a “brick and mortar” office, or have you made the switch to working virtually? Let us know in the comments!