One of the challenges we have to deal with in a virtual office environment is how to handle incoming snail mail. We receive snail mail for all sorts of stuff:
- Checks from customers
- Bills from credit cards and vendors we work with
- Bank statements
Originally, we had all this snail mail sent to my apartment here in San Francisco, but recently the influx of mail started to become overwhelming. Fortunately, about a year ago we signed up for a nifty remote mail service called Earth Class Mail.
What is a remote mail service? The basic idea is that it's a service which scans all of your physical snail mail and makes it available online. The process looks something like this:
- Mail is received by secure mail handling facility
- Depending on the addressee, the mail is sorted into the correct virtual mailbox automatically
- An email is sent to notify the recipient mail has arrived
- Mail facility scans the item
- Recipient reads the mail
We get several benefits from handling our mail this way:
- Mail is automatically sorted - nobody has to spend time sorting the mail that comes in, and this saves us time.
- The intended recipient knows that the mail came in right away via email
- Snail mail can be read from anywhere - Since all the mail is scanned and online, we can read the mail from anyplace we can access the internet
- All mail is archived and easily accessible online anytime we need it
- If I ever move, we wont have to spend a bunch of time notifying our customers of our new address since our mailing address doesn't need to change.
As a small business owner, I've benefited the most from this system. I used to spend a few hours a week dealing with mail, keeping it organized, and depositing checks as they came in. Now, we've been able to delegate these tasks in an efficient manner without loosing physical control of the mail itself.