Setting up a virtual remote company - part 1

 As there seems to be considerable interest in setting up a remote virtual company in the current environment I thought it would be timely to discuss the necessary and optional components. I myself run a company fully virtually and advise my business clients on how to achieve the same ability for their business. Please note that some of these solutions are not available in Taiwan, and as such you will either need to sign up for these services outside of Taiwan and get creative on how to make them work for Taiwan. Please note that the solutions I list are not comprehensive, and there are many other options available. As with anything reliant on technology, security and data protection is a crucial component.

Some of the topics that will be discussed over these posts are:

  • Virtual office and shared office space
  • Computer hardware
  • Voip and communication tools
  • Banking
  • Remote desktop application
  • Cloud storage
  • VPN
  • Client cloud portals
  • Password manager
  • Accounting and payroll systems
  • CRM and SCRM
  • Meeting scheduler
  • Tools for businesses with employees and/or contractors
This first post will focus on the items that are typically needed for any remote or virtual set up. Let's dive right in and see how each component works and what it provides.

Virtual office and shared office space

The difference between a virtual office space and shared office space (aka co-working space) is that typically a virtual office setup up will only provide you with  mail, phone, and an address, whereas shared office space will allow you to add a physical location to work from which can be in the form of  a hot desk (first come first serve), a dedicated desk, private office, and use of meeting rooms. Typically companies that provide a virtual office will also provide shared office space and the ability to upgrade or downgrade services as required. The benefits of a virtual office are as follows:
  • Can obtain an address anywhere one wishes to conduct business without the cost that comes with a lease of dedicated business space. Provides the appearance of being local
  • Privacy as most tend to work from home and by using a virtual address don't need to list your physical home address
  • Can start with a simple virtual address and add on features required as the business grows
  • Flexibility is the biggest feature. Should the business not succeed as planned, it is simple to cancel this service without incurring substantial costs as would occur with renting a physical location
Hardware requirements

A typical remote business will require the following:
  • Laptop with a docking station - easy to connect and disconnect from external devices and to do work from anywhere
  • Router - most miss this important piece of hardware these days as the internet modem typically comes with wifi. however, a router adds a layer of security and privacy between your computer and the internet by offering a second firewall and the ability to set up a closed network. It is easy to manage the devices that connect to a router, and even restrict connections to a select set of devices based on their MAC addresses
  • External monitors - the number of and size of the monitors that can be connected to your laptop will depend mostly on your laptop and docking station, and as such you should ensure that anything you buy will have the necessary connections available. You should note that most laptops can be attached to two monitors and the laptop monitor itself can be used as a third
  • Printer - while it would be great to never have to print a thing, one just never knows, and as such a printer is always handy
  • Scanner - for those that receive paper documents and need to be able to quickly digitize them, the right scanner can save a lot of time and effort. My personal preference is for the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1400 but you should look for one that will meet your needs
  • Other devices - other devices you can consider are external hard drives, mouse and keyboard, webcam, headset
Phone system

Every business needs a number, and what better way to achieve this than by using VOIP. The advantages of VOIP are the following assuming you sign up with a company that provides an office package:
  • Can set up a phone number using an area code from anywhere in the world. Your callers will be calling a local number, while you can be anywhere
  • Most services will come with an extension setting, which makes it appear as though you have a much larger set up than it actually is, as calls can be routed to any extension
  • Most packages will also offer call forwarding, answering system that will send an email with the message attached, fax, conference calling, toll free numbers and the like along with an app that will let you make and receive calls using your mobile device
  • Look for a service that will provide you with an app to avoid having to be close to the physical VOIP device
Cell phone

You may choose to combine having VOIP service with a cell phone package from your home country for ease and simplicity. This is typically done to maintain your existing cell phone number for phone calls and text messages. If you are considering this option, you should look into providers that offer wifi calling and messaging abilities. This feature will see you avoid incurring roaming charges as long as your device is only connected to wifi networks while you use it.


It is easy to overlook banking, but this is crucial as I am certain no business will be complete without the ability to collect payments from clients and customers. When choosing a bank you will need to consider the following especially if you will be working from a different country:
  • Ability to deposit cheques remotely through apps
  • Ability to transfer funds as needed between countries
  • Ability to accept credit card payments
  • Ability to accept wire payments and send wires
The Taiwan banking system is extremely antiquated with a lot of barriers. Even HSBC which is considered by far to be the most international bank of all does not operate in Taiwan as it does elsewhere.

The items listed above are in my opinion the minimum any business will require to function securely and remotely creating a trustworthy presence.

The second post will focus on how to move everything into the cloud and create additional layers of protection for yourself, your clients and customers.

Part 2 - how to create a fully virtual environment can be found here
Part 3 - security and privacy can be found here


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