Haven’t you ever felt the need to be everywhere at once? It might seem like a fantasy to business owners, but the truth is that thanks to the newest technology, it’s not only possible to be in multiple locations at once — it’s easy! By using the latest technology, you can work remotely or have your business working in multiple locations simultaneously.
In this article, we’ll take a look at how you can be everywhere with a “virtual location.”
What is a Virtual Location?
The key to being in two places (or more) at once is establishing a virtual location. A virtual location is essentially a business presence that is achieved by using Internet-based tools to engage with customers and staff.
A virtual location is usually augmented with a “virtual office,” which can carry out most or all of the tasks of a traditional office environment online instead of in-person. This includes supporting remote workers, international contractors, key staff members, clients, and other people involved in your business.
Because no two business models demand the same out of a virtual location and virtual office, there’s no consensus on what is mandatory for each industry. However, let’s take a look at some of the common components of a virtual location/ office.
Components of a Virtual Location and Virtual Office
The key components of a virtual location/office are:
- Website (equipped with e-commerce solutions, contact details, marketing materials)
- Virtual Private Network/ VPN (to have a compatible IP address of the country/ area that you wish to establish your virtual location)
- Social Media (used for marketing purposes and public relations)
- Online Collaboration Platforms (i.e. Slack, Teamwork, Trello, etc.)
- Cloud-Based Storage (for sharing files around the world with customers and staff)
- Virtual Phone Numbers (to provide live communication with a company representative or staff members)
Ultimately, what virtual locations can do is establish the localization process for your business. This is a way of blending into a country’s, region’s, and/ or city’s particular set of values and cultural norms. This can include making sure that you offer the company’s primary languages, adhering to customs and cultural norms, and matching how domestic businesses carry out interacting with customers/ clients. Localization engages customers to recognize your business as a local one, and it can be particularly valuable for foreign businesses that are looking to establish themselves in new territories.
For instance, suppose your company is based in Seattle, but customers in Dallas, Texas have shown a high demand for your products. By leveraging virtual phone numbers (more on virtual phone number below) as part of your virtual location, you can use a local access number that matches Dallas’ area codes so that your business can blend in and build authenticity in outside markets. However, when Dallas callers complete your call, this call can be routed to a call center in another location around the world. For instance, you may direct Spanish-speaking customer calls (“Dial 1 for English; Marque el Numero 2 Por Espanol”) to a call center you have based in Mexico, whereas other calls are forwarded to the Seattle call center.
(If this seems deceptive to you, think about when you’ve last dialed a toll free number. Do you know where your phone call is being routed? It may not even be in the same country that you are. And ultimately, if your call is processed efficiently, does it really matter?)
Virtual Phone Numbers
One of the key components to expanding your business’ overall reach is to use virtual phone numbers. Virtual phone numbers are a simple but powerful concept:
When a caller dials your phone number, the call is instantly routed through the cloud and delivered to another phone number (called the “destination phone number”). This may not seem like much, but it is better understood through the aforementioned example.
Virtual phone numbers match “normal” phone numbers in function and appearance (country and area/ region codes), but they also go one step further thanks to cloud computing. Depending on which service provider you choose, you can gain access to add-ons and extensions like “call recording,” “simultaneous ringing,” “vanity numbers,” and much more.
Ultimately how efficient your virtual location / office is will determine your organization’s reach. While no two business models are alike, it is helpful to know that adding your own creativity and insight can make your business soar past the competition; who are most likely only in one place at a time.