It sounds basic, but the first step in setting up a technology solution for working with offsite employees is to figure out just what you need to do with your extended work force. Most growing businesses with multiple work sites will have two particular needs at the top of their list: the ability for employees to talk with each other on a minute-by-minute basis and the ability to have access to files away from the office. To add to the challenge, these needs have to be met at a price point that won't strain the budget.

Meeting these requirements doesn't require deep secrets or complex technology. Basically, it's about e-mail, telephones and IM. For e-mail, outsourcing can provide extra features, higher security and web access. For IM, you can use the many free solutions offered online. And if you want access to customers no matter what IM platform they're using, try chat clients like Trillian that allow you to cross platforms. And for that pesky file-sharing problem? Look for in-house servers that offer secure web access and online file sharing.