In a day and age when remote collaboration is becoming more and more popular, there are a number of pros and cons when it comes to this relatively new concept.
Remote collaboration occurs when Charlie, Sarah, Ben and Jerome all work for the same company, but they don’t share a central office. Charlie works from home, Sarah and Ben work from coffee shops, and Jerome lives on the other side of the country… they never know where he is stationed. In order to stay connected they use a plethora of communication applications, none of which manage to work effectively or efficiently.
Enter Walkabout Office. The online remote collaboration program helps co-workers to create custom virtual office environments on their home computers. The office environments become places of comfort and familiarity, filled with all of the conveniences of the “dream office”. Workers can customize all of their own apps and tools. There’s even a map that shows the floorplan of the company’s virtual office, so that workers get a sense that they are working in a tight-knit collaborative professional atmosphere. After all, while it’s nice to work remotely, employees still yearn for a stronger connection with co-workers. The virtual office features meeting rooms and break rooms, just like a real work environment. Employees can even set up meetings with representatives from other companies who “appear” in the waiting room, until a receptionist tells them that they are expected in either the conference room or a particular office.
“It’s a virtual office that literally looks like an aerial view of an office. Everyone has their own office space so you can pop into each other’s office and chat via web cam or IM. We even have a ‘receptionist’ that can take messages for you if you’re not available.” – Joy, NPS 9
The Walkabout Office program was developed by Buffalo-born entrepreneur Antoinette (Anton) Forth. Forth wanted to create a virtual office environment that would encourage people to get excited about “going to work”, instead of simply awaiting a weekly conference call. Click here to see a number of the unique building/office features.
Since returning to Buffalo, Forth has become an empowering voice and mentor in Buffalo’s burgeoning startup ecosystem – working with female business peers and organizations including the Everwise Women Program, Girl Develop It Hack-A-Thon, The Women’s Business Center at Canisius College, and Western New York Venture Associate.
Since first launching the company, Forth’s team has raised $375K of the $2 million benchmark. The five year goal of the company is to have 135 full time sales, customer service, and C-level employees hired, half of whom would be based out of Buffalo.
Anyone who has ever worked remotely (as I am doing at this very moment), understands that this is a very exciting concept. Working remotely is incredible in theory. But at the same time, being part of a virtual or real life team has its advantages.
Walkabout Office is the newest wave of working remotely – the program offers a fun and healthy co-working office environment. Bosses can set work schedules. Interns can have a place to work. And everyone gets to feel like they are part of an expansive team. If someone doesn’t want to be disturbed, he or she can simply hang a “do not disturb sign” on the “virtual door”, or post a “Out on a sales call” note, so that the team knows that someone has left the building. The only thing that an employee can’t do is say that he or she is going to be late because of a traffic jam. Other than that, everyone is going to love Walkabout Office.