Many Small Staff Associations rely on volunteers to fill out their board and make their organization run. Because of that, it’s often difficult to get everyone on the same page, much less in the same room for routine board meetings. That’s part of the reason why the “virtual office” works so well for Small Staff Associations.
The pros are obvious:
1) Save money by not leasing a facility
2) Allow for volunteers to work at their own pace in the comfort of their own homes or offices
3) A “green” solution to avoid unnecessary commuting
However there are some drawbacks:
1) Convenience can come with distractions
2) No real way to measure productivity
3) No centralized contact points (one fax number, phone number, etc) can be problematic
For some Small Staff Associations, a virtual office is the only option due to the lack of time, money, and help. So let’s tackle some of those drawbacks and make your virtual office into a working productive office!
1) Instead of asking or paying for “hours” measure completed tasks
That solves the productivity issue and allows the volunteer or employee to work at his or her own pace. Just make sure that deadlines are clearly laid out for time-sensitive material. It will also make volunteering a little less scary and a little less of a huge commitment if members are signing up for a project and not necessarily an ongoing commitment.
2) Get a PO Box and check it regularly
That solves the problem of a central address, but you have to be diligent about checking it. That might be a commitment for a super-engaged board member, or even one of the presidential duties.
3) Still schedule regular social events
Even if business isn’t done, establishing regular activities to bolster camaraderie will go a long way in unifying your leadership and membership and creating that “water cooler” than can get lost when using a virtual office.
These are just some ideas to get you started. Each association is different, and these solutions may be perfect for you or need some tweaking. Does your leadership share a “virtual space” instead of an office? Let us know how it’s going!