Workforce trends are heading in a digital direction and virtual offices are no exception. Virtual offices give us the flexibility to work wherever we want while allowing us to save on the costs associated with maintaining a physical location (not to mention, they let us avoid long commutes so we can sleep in a little longer).
In many ways, virtual offices have improved the way we work, but like everything else in life, nothing can be 100% perfect. In this article we will break down the advantages and disadvantages of virtual offices, so you can decide for yourself if it’s right for you.
Advantages of a Virtual Office for a Small Business
Businesses that don’t have a physical location still need to maintain a degree of professionalism with their business address in order to stay competitive. This professionalism can not be easily achieved by letting your clients and potential customers know that you work from your kitchen table or a small computer desk in your basement. And the only thing worse than using your home address as your business address is using a post office box. When potential clients see these types of addresses they may start feeling concerned about your legitimacy.
In addition to turning away potential clients with a home address or P.O box, Google also does not take too well to these addresses. It prefers to see virtual offices used in the address section of your Google My Business listing.
Telsec’s virtual office provides you with a prestigious address in Toronto’s Financial District, that will elevate your business’s image and let clients know you take your work seriously.
2. Save Money
The second (and just as important) advantage is the enormous cost saving of not having to pay rent for physical office space; as well as the other costs associated with a traditional office such as having to furnish it, and purchase office equipment and telephone systems. Having a virtual office at an office business center not only saves you money on office expenses but also saves you time and money on commuting into an office every weekday. Think of the cost of your time! If you spend 2 hours a day commuting, then that represents 10 hours a week that you could have been working on your business and earning money.
3. Reduced Risk
The third biggest advantage of having a virtual office is the reduced risk of operating your small business or start-up. Not having to make all of the capital expenditures on furnishings and office equipment means that you do not have all your resources tied up – and therefore you have fewer non-operational-related liabilities.
This lower risk may also be helpful if your small business wants to diversify or expand to other markets. You can easily set up another inexpensive virtual office solution in another market and appear to have a physical presence in that marketplace.
Another advantage of a virtual office is that you have the flexibility to work when it is convenient for you, wherever you are. You are also able to perform your normal work duties from your home, your shop, or on the road without being confined to a single office all day. This is especially true if you are using a VoIP virtual office solution that gives you an extension that can be reached anywhere in the world.
When you have your virtual office at an office business center like Telsec, you have the flexibility of accessing boardrooms and meeting rooms if you ever need to meet with clients or colleagues in person. You also have access to the photocopiers at a very low cost per copy as well as incoming faxes for free.
5. Mail Service
Virtual office clients have the advantage of using Telsec’s mail service program. This program provides you with a professional address (18 King Street East) to give your clients when they need to send you mail. Once the mail has been sent, we will redirect both domestic and international mail and faxes to your home address, or any other address of your choice.
6. Telephone Message and Mail Service
With virtual offices, you have the option of incorporating telephone answering services. Here you will receive a professional and personalized digital telephone answering service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have unlimited incoming calls.
By having a dedicated business phone number, you can separate your personal and professional calls without needing a physical office landline. You will also ensure that all your important business calls are always answered.
Perceived Disadvantages of Virtual Offices
1. Needing a Physical Location to Complete Work
Businesses that use virtual offices have their employees performing duties from an assortment of locations. Essentially, there is no home-based office for employees to report to or meet with colleagues and clients. So, for businesses that need a physical space and daily physical interactions to get the work done, a virtual office may not be the best solution.
2. Lack of In-Person Social Interaction
Some believe that a disadvantage to working from a virtual office is the lack of social interaction between employees. While some will easily discount this disadvantage, it can be especially difficult for extroverts who thrive on human interaction. This is because, with a virtual office situation, human interaction is hard to come by – unless the employee is stepping out to work from a local library or a coffee shop to get that social interaction.
3. Lack of Motivation
Another perceived disadvantage of working from a virtual office is the distractions and lack of motivation; as this can sometimes cause morale and productivity to decline. For a person who has self-discipline issues and works best being consistently supervised, a virtual office arrangement can cause a lack of motivation.
Communication problems between employees can also be seen as a disadvantage of a virtual office. Communicating via email, texting, social media or even teleconferencing is just not the same as in-person conversations. This is because, more often than not, we might miss the subtle non-verbal clues in written communications. This can lead to poor communication or misinterpretation of one’s comments or notes – and can sometimes slow down interactions that could have been more easily communicated via a quick telephone call. But once employees are aware of these problems (or at least get used to non-verbal communication) this will become less of an issue.
Measures of an Effective Virtual Office & Working in a Virtual Team
Maintaining best practices will help you minimize the disadvantages of virtual offices. Good communication plays a vital role in keeping your employees engaged and motivated, especially in virtual team settings. To get over the roadblock of not being with team members in person, it is important to ensure you are recognizing good work, developing trust, honesty, and transparency with all employees, as well as encouraging constant communication.
Fortunately, there are many tools and strategies that you can use to work successfully in a virtual team and tackle these challenges head-on. Using virtual meeting rooms, and having consistent check-ins will not only help you avoid any misunderstandings, but will also increase your productivity.
When you work in a virtual team, it’s important to make an extra effort with relationships. Though it may take some time and resources, companies need to assess their virtual culture and implement strategies to make the culture more fun, inclusive, and enjoyable. An important part of establishing relationships with teammates is helping to build and maintain trust. Clearly communicate what is expected from your team. Give them the tools they need to succeed and make sure that you are doing everything you can to help them thrive.
Multiple Services to Choose From
Virtual offices have evolved with business requirements in mind by having a variety of services to choose from, including on-site conference rooms, meeting rooms, training rooms, and more. Virtual offices combine the features of traditional office spaces and private mailboxes to create something that will promote business growth even further.
Virtual offices are a great way to appear more established, which can be essential when a business is looking to create a solid professional reputation among clients, colleagues, and customers. Whether it’s just you or you have a team of employees, virtual offices give you the flexibility and professionalism you need to succeed.
Some virtual office services are a lot better than others, so make sure you thoroughly research your options first and try before you buy.
Some people are now calling virtual offices their cloud offices because they are also operating their files and software through cloud servers. Learn more about cloud storage solutions on this blog.