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Telecommuting is one means of reducing operating costs that many small businesses are starting to consider seriously. When you compare overhead expenditures and potential cost savings against the need to have employees in the same office, you may find it is worth your while to give telecommuting a try—or even to make your whole business virtual. Here are some tips to help you get started:
1. Meet online. You can reduce travel costs without compromising productivity or results by using Web conferencing services to conduct meetings. Consider DimDim or WebEx for good quality conferencing and desktop sharing.
2. Share and collaborate. A big concern for would-be telecommuters is how to access and share critical work documents. Fortunately, many Web-based services are specifically designed to support document-sharing, group workflow, and collaboration. Two free services designed for small businesses are Sosius and Google Docs.
3. Quality conference-calling. A quality conference calling service is a must. Look for services that offer such added benefits as free call recording and desktop sharing.
4. Professional e-mail. Small businesses need dependable e-mail, but not all services offer the same level of professionalism or the security small businesses need. Two good options are Google’s Gmail and Live Office.
5. Institute a telecommuting policy. Although everyone may not be in the same office, it’s critical that everyone be on the same page and clearly understand expectations and requirements. A standard policy helps ensure that telecommuting is a valuable alternative for your staff and the success of your business.
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To submit a tip for consideration, first check our archive of previous tips to make sure you're not repeating a tip someone has already contributed. Then send the tip to Small Business channel contributor Michelle Dammon Loyalka. Because of the volume of material she receives, she may not respond to each individual.