5 Free iPhone Apps for Managing Virtual Team Members

Doing business with a group of people who work remotely has an enormous number of advantages. However, keeping the workers in communication can be a challenge. There are several free iPhone apps that can help workers to communicate, meet remotely and stay organized. Here are five free apps that can help manage a virtual office team.

Viber

Making phone calls is a big part of keeping a group of virtual workers in communication. Having high-quality sound on your calls and being able to make the calls for free are important to any business. Viber boasts high-quality sound that is better than traditional phone calls. It also allows your team members to call each other completely free from anywhere in the world. Even when workers are working remotely overseas, you don’t have to worry about the cost of staying in communication. There are no ads when using this app.

Beluga

Messaging is another important component in staying in communication. This app allows users to create pods, or groups, that can communicate together. It works with iPhones as well as virtually any other type of phone. Beluga keeps track of your chat histories, allowing you to go back over past chat logs easily. You can send fast messages to group members and send photos as well as your location info. When using Beluga, there are no texting fees. Your entire group can message, create group chats and keep them all stored for free.

Free Conference Call

Every business that has virtual employees relies on conference calls. With Free Conference Call, these conferences can be conducted on an iPhone screen, and it’s all free. And it doesn’t matter how large your virtual workforce is- as many as 1,000 people can be included in the calls. To help manage each call, individual callers can be muted or put on hold. Conferences can be recorded and stored with the app. After each call, a report that details each call is automatically emailed to the participants. The conference calls are recorded and can be played back at any time. Even if other callers don’t have an iPhone, they can still participate in the calls.

Ideapi

Creating documents is a necessary part of keeping a virtual office team informed. Collaborative efforts are often needed when several team members are working on a project. Users can create proposals, briefs and other documents, and send them out to other team members. Sharing ideas becomes quick and easy with this free app. It keeps the created documents organized and allows for easy editing and collaborating with other team members. Users can manage their contacts to allow groups to collaborate on the documents. Templates are provided, or users can design their own documents.

iNvite

Getting everyone together for a meeting in a virtual office can be a challenge when the team works remotely. iNvite is a free app that allows users to send out invitations to meetings. The invitations are easy to send and can be sent out to large groups so that meetings are always scheduled.

With these solutions, you’ll be able to easily manage and adapt to a virtual office environment without losing out on productivity or professionalism.

 

Courtney Ramirez
Research Analyst, CloudVO™
Courtney’s research focuses on tracking emerging business trends and best practices – with an emphasis on how they affect business operations, technology, and virtual office trends.

How to Collaborate with Mobile Workers

According to industry statistics, nearly 90% of companies have a mobile workforce of some kind. Mobile workers are using smart phones, pads and tablets to perform business functions in and outside of normal office spaces, or even in tandem with them. No matter the situation, all mobile workers have the same focus- using technology to stay connected with their work.

Salespeople are traveling with virtual offices to meet clients, give presentations and share digital documentation. They are offering capabilities such as digital payments and paperless signature pads on mobile devices like tablets or smart phones for unparalleled ease in meeting clients needs and closing sales in any location. Web-based payroll and HR platforms offer streamlined mission critical tools that employers can offer their mobile workforce. And email and social media remain the most used methods of connecting mobile workers. Staying connected anywhere, anytime is the key.

Advantages of Mobility

Employing a mobile workforce lends itself to remaining competitive in the marketplace. Many companies are using the latest devices and tools to empower their workers to increase productivity. Employees are even electing to bring their own devices (BYOD) of choice to work, and integrate them into their business systems. Companies are finding this advantageous in recruiting and retaining younger workers.

Business owners may also find additional ways to save capital by employing and empowering mobile employees. Mobility allows employees to work from anywhere and at anytime. This built in flexibility can be a benefit to both employers because it offers advantages such as saving money on leasing/purchasing office space, equipment, utilities, etc. Using on demand office spaces for meetings and allowing employees to use their own mobile devices to connect to their work can impact the bottom line significantly.

Trending Mobility

With ever increasing sales of mobile devices, consumers and employees alike are saying they want to stay connected. Business owners must respond by staying connected to industry trends as well. Understanding your mobile worker’s technological needs keeps you in sync with your growing business needs as well. Staying connecting and meeting the needs of the mobile workforce increases productivity, collaboration and effectiveness. This also increases your ability to compete in the digital marketplace, and to change to meet its ever evolving technological needs.

Creative Collaboration

Understanding your employees has always been important, particularly to small business or emerging business owners. Having the right team in place to jump start your business, build its infrastructure and grow its potential is part of successfully establishing any endeavor. Knowing how to help those employees do their best work and giving them the best tools they need to get the job done is key. Younger employees are using social media as a large part of their mobile business work mode. Yet other employees need incentives to embrace new mobile technologies in the workplace. Meeting your employees where they are in the mobile workspace offers a better opportunity for creative collaboration and success in adapting your business to meet the demands of the market.
Courtney Ramirez
Research Analyst, CloudVO™
Courtney’s research focuses on tracking emerging business trends and best practices – with an emphasis on how they affect business operations, technology, and virtual office trends.

Communication Counts – How a Virtual Office Can Save your Mobile Business

Whether you’re a salesman on the road, a traveling consultant, or run another type of mobile business, you know the challenges of staying in touch with your clients, building your business and maintaining your sanity! Even with the wide variety of communication options available, it can still be a challenge to hold it all together. With a virtual office space, you can effectively and efficiently grow your business from the road.

mobile-communicationGetting Phone Calls on the Road

When you’re on the road long term, getting phone calls reliably can be tricky. You could lose reception while you’re traveling, or not be able to get calls at all. To combat this problem, many travelling business owners rely on a virtual office. A reputable Virtual Office provider uses receptionists to take business calls in a professional manner and then forwards the callers to the individual business owners that contract with them. With this service, clients know that they can reliably reach you with one static phone number no matter where you are. And if for some reason they can’t reach you, they have the reassurance that you are a reputable business because they’ve reached a real live person.

Prestigious Address with Convenient Mail Collection

While being used less and less these days, “Snail Mail” is still something one must consider when working mobile. An important part of projecting a strong business image, even while you’re on the road, is having a recognizable business district address. With a virtual office that includes a physical address with mail reception, your mail is handled on your behalf and forwarded at your request. So while you’re on the go, you can rest assured that your mail is handled by “your” professional staff.

Doing Business in Town

When you are on the road often, the time that you spend in your own city may be infrequent. However, there may be times that you want to meet with new and existing clients in a professional environment. With a virtual office available whenever it’s needed, you can meet with clients and let them know that you run a business with a real location. The shared office space gives you the room needed for large meetings or a quick conference with a single client. It gives you a quiet place to meet, and allows you to meet in the same place as your business address.

Traveling and the Temporary Office

Having a temporary office is the perfect solution for business owners who are on the road much of the time. It doesn’t require renting out an entire office that will just sit empty throughout most of the year. It doesn’t force you to hire employees who sit idle during the time you are away. Instead, you can utilize the office’s resources only when you need them. The physical space is there for you when you’re in town and in need of an office environment.

With a virtual space that serves as a permanent base of operations for your communications, you can live life on the road without worrying that it’s hurting your business. You can also save the expense of hiring a full-time staff that only works part-time hours. You save money, stay in communication, and keep a professional image for your business no matter where your travels take you. It’s the best of both business worlds.

Courtney Ramirez
Research Analyst, CloudVO™
Courtney’s research focuses on tracking emerging business trends and best practices – with an emphasis on how they affect business operations, technology, and virtual office trends.

Incubator Client Highlight – Bamboo Solutions Launches Cloud CRM Beta

BambooLogoNewBamboo Solutions, a SharePoint-based business provider, has launched its anticipated Bamboo CRM and Bamboo Support beta test. These cloud-based applications simplify sales, customer service, and product support for your business.

Bamboo has already proven its reliability and effectiveness with a variety ofSharePoint-based software solutions. Expanding on its success in cloud based computing, Bamboo is adding to its Software as a Service (SaaS) hosted solutions. Over 30 companies are involved in the public beta. BambooCRM is designed to help customer service and sales professionals track communication with customers and leads in a reliable manner. The BambooSupport application tracks product support requests and actions.

We spoke with General Manager of Online Applications Group Marc O’Brien about the potential of these applications. O’Brien says “Bamboo CRM and Bamboo Support integrate together to provide a unique offering.” With these solutions working together, a sales person can immediately look and see past communications with the customer from the sales team, any product support requests filed from the customer, as well as actions taken to remedy a problem. This can give the sales team essential insight into a customer’s past so they can respond accordingly. “If things are going well for the customer,” says O’Brien, “there’s going to be an upsell opportunity that the sales person can immediately see with our SaaS applications.”

These applications provide the same seamless integration with SharePoint as on-premises software applications, but with a lightweight footprint. They are available in minutes with automated self-provisioning of accounts, even with sample data. Rather than spending valuable time and money installing SharePoint and applications, a company will have immediate access to important customer and support information through cloud based computing. This also makes upgrades to the application transparent, which allows Bamboo to provide superior service.

If you’d like in on the beta test of these solutions, you can write cloudapplications@bamboosolutions.com to request access. Both applications will be available on a monthly subscription basis. Independently, BambooCRM is at an introductory price of $29.99 per month and BambooSupport is at $19.99 per month. You can also purchase them together for $39.99 per month. The handy import wizard means that your contacts and customer support records can be imported from your old CRM and support clients.

The new applications are part of Bamboo’s newest division – the online applications group. The division, which started in January 2010, has already shown success with Bamboo CRM and has plans for further developments in the SaaS industry.

 

Courtney Ramirez
Research Analyst, Cloud Virtual Office
Courtney’s research focuses on tracking emerging business trends and best practices – with an emphasis on how they affect business operations, technology, and virtual offices.

Grow Your Business in Four Easy Steps

Every business owner is interested in growing their business. Making your business more valuable to your market and increasing your presence in your industry is sometimes seen as a really complicated process. However, if you want to keep things simple, there are really only four things you need to focus on. These four easy steps will allow you to develop a strong strategy for growing your business, no matter how small or big it is.
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