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With increasing numbers of people working remotely, you have probably heard the term “virtual office.”
But what is a virtual office? Would it benefit you and your business?
Read this guide to find out what a virtual office is and how it could take your remote work to the next level.
What is a Virtual Office?
With a virtual office, the business owner pays for use of a physical address and services such as a receptionist, call forwarding, and meeting rooms on an as-needed or recurring basis. Providers offer a range of options that can be customized based on a business’s needs.
A virtual office gives businesses the flexibility to let their employees work remotely while still maintaining the benefits of a physical address and office-related services. They reduce costs and can help strengthen a business’s profile.
Virtual offices have been especially popular with start-ups and small businesses. Some of the top industries using virtual offices are financial, legal, consulting, and technology.
People sometimes use the terms virtual office, serviced office, and coworking space interchangeably, but a virtual office fulfills a different purpose.
Businesses using a virtual office have employees working primarily remotely, and they use meeting rooms or other physical facilities only when needed. Businesses using a serviced office or coworking space work onsite daily.
Key Services a Virtual Office Provides
Here are some of the key services a virtual office will typically provide:
1. A professional business address
Offices are usually located in commercial districts of major cities. This type of virtual office address gives the businesses using it more credibility. It also creates a more professional impression for clients when they see it on a website or in official correspondence.
2. A receptionist and/or call forwarding
Many office locations have a receptionist to answer phone calls. A receptionist will also greet any clients and colleagues you have arranged to meet on site, which gives a more personal touch to a business whose interactions are usually remote.
Even if a location does not provide a live receptionist, a call forwarding system gives businesses the benefit of having an official landline phone number. Business owners can then avoid giving clients their personal cell phone number.
3. Mail handling
The office location will receive mail and hold it to be picked up. Most providers will also forward the mail to you either physically or scanned and emailed although there may be an additional fee for this service.
4. Meeting and conference space
For in-person meetings or conference calls, the virtual office will have rooms available to rent by the hour or the day.
High-speed WiFi, video conferencing capabilities, printing, and faxing are some of the technological amenities a virtual office will have.
Providers will usually group these and other virtual options together into various packages at different price points. Business owners can then choose the package that best fits their needs and budget.
Pros and Cons of Using a Virtual Office Space
What are the potential advantages and disadvantages of using a virtual office?
A virtual office gives a business several advantages.
1. Cost savings
A virtual office costs much less than leasing a traditional office, buying equipment, and hiring administrative staff.
A virtual office address in a prime location, a dedicated landline phone number, and services such as a receptionist increase the credibility of a business.
Employees can work remotely from anywhere. In addition, most virtual office providers offer month-to-month packages, so business owners can adapt quickly as their needs change.
4. Increased productivity
Research suggests that employees who work remotely may actually be more productive than those who work in a traditional office. Another study found that employees working remotely reported feeling happier and were less likely to quit.
There are also some potential challenges when using a virtual office.
1. Scheduling conflicts
Because the office space is shared, someone else may want to use a meeting room at the same time you do. Making reservations well in advance can help avoid this problem, but the need to plan far ahead reduces the amount of flexibility available to business owners.
2. Remote workforce
When employees work remotely, communication can become more difficult. Less camaraderie within the team and increased misunderstandings can result.
3. Decreased productivity
Working remotely can increase productivity, but not in all circumstances. Some employees need the discipline of a physical office to remain focused and productive. The business owner may also have more difficulty telling if everything is running smoothly with a remote workforce. Technical problems can interrupt the work flow as well.
All of these possible disadvantages have solutions though.
Planning ahead for conference room use can help avoid scheduling conflicts. Holding regular team meetings and encouraging remote interactions among employees can promote better communication and build morale. Consistent check-ins with employees can help to minimize losses in productivity.
The virtual office experience is customizable, so business owners can evaluate what impact the potential advantages and disadvantages may have and plan accordingly.
Is a Virtual Office Right for Your Business?
Now that we’ve answered the question What is a virtual office?, it’s time to decide if a virtual office is right for you.
A virtual office address, dedicated phone number, and receptionist will improve the image you present to your clients. You will save money compared to a traditional office setting. Potential problems resulting from shared workspace and a remote workforce can be solved with strategies for communication, accountability, and team building.
A range of providers offers virtual offices around the world. To better understand your options, look at companies with a presence in the location(s) that will be the most beneficial for your business. Then you can compare the services they offer and find a package that meets your needs.
If you want to maximize the benefits of working remotely, a virtual office might be the perfect solution. Now the only question is, Why don’t you have one yet?