It’s not often that two of Canada’s biggest cities are inundated by rainwater in the same two-week period. But, as Calgary and Toronto have showed thus far this past July, it can happen. And if you were one of the hundreds or thousands of people whose first or second thought upon seeing the storm was “wow, I hope my office is ok”, it may finally be time for you to think about backing up your files onto a well-integrated online management system. Offices in the cloud, after all, cannot be rained upon.

Of course, you’re probably well aware that this is the case. That being said, there are tons of people out there who use an iPad in their personal life yet rely on filing cabinets for nearly all of their business needs.

Here are some practical tips for turning your office into a virtual one:

Digitize your data

Moving hundreds of files online can be time-consuming. In the last several years, however, a number of companies have emerged that will scan your files and then organize them online according to your exact specifications. Shoeboxed, for example, allows you to mail in your receipts and then sit back as they are systematically computerized for you for less than your monthly cell phone bill. Or you could use Receipt Bank, which neatly stores and pulls data from your receipts including vendor, date, sales tax, etc. simply through taking a picture of them with your smartphone or emailing a softcopy. These programs are key allies in your transition toward a virtual office set-up.

Get a cloud server

Since you may not always have access to your desktop computer, you’ll need to subscribe to a cloud-based file sharing app like Sharefile, Smartvault, Dropbox, or Box in order to manage your files from home. Cloud-based file sharing applications allow you to store files online and then view them from any computer or smartphone. In most cases, you can employ a safe and secure, online sharing application for less than $40/month per user and learn to use it fairly quickly without being overly tech-savvy. These programs can also be extremely useful for sharing documents between co-workers, or for jointly accessing them collaboratively.

Get a Portable Video Backdrop

Just because you’re working from your home office doesn’t mean you can’t provide a professional look.

If you feel your home office background is not suitable for a Skype or Gotomeeting call, pick up a portable backdrop. These can typically be found at photo stores or purchased online. A backdrop can help create a consistent look to ensure that you remain confident in your first impression with new clients.