Since the conception of businesses, the idea of working has always been inextricably linked to an actual and physical location of work, which is usually an office. This, of course, still remains the case for a lot of people today. There are a variety of reasons why businesses still operate from a central hub such as the need for visibility for managing employees and customers and the importance and need of face-to-face contact. However, times have changed considerably and there is now a greater need and demand for flexibility in working situations. Progressive management techniques and technology has contributed to the popularity and acceptance of flexible working.
These days, you can easily find a horde of emerging alternative working arrangements and business structures that are supported by numerous products and services. A virtual office is one of them.
What is a virtual office?
With virtual offices, a business can enjoy a lot of the same benefits they can get from an actual office such as a receptionist, a city address and call handling. The difference is that they don’t need physical space for doing this. The best part of virtual office services is that they enable businesses to portray a professional image, but without incurring the costs for accomplishing it such as expensive accommodation.
There are a number of packages offered by virtual office services available today like ‘address only’ packages, which give a business an address and mail forwarding facilities. Additional services are also offered for those who are remotely based or working from home such as access to meeting rooms at a reasonable price, PA services and phone call management.
Why Would You Need A Virtual Office?
Virtual offices can perform nearly all the functions that an office is supposed to perform. You are given a dedicated receptionist that greets your clients as soon as they call in. They won’t have to deal with the voicemails and machines answering their calls. Your entire communication takes place on the internet through a reliable system where any piece of the information is accessible at any given moment. Documents are sent as attachments through emails and any voicemails are converted into emails so you can perform your responsibilities from one dedicated device.
With virtual office services you get a corporate address that you can show to your clients and customers. This is a way for you to have an impression even when your business is in its early stages. You don’t have to worry about the costs of renting an office space. When you rent the office space you have to worry about the furniture and fixtures too. You have to keep replacing them over the years as they keep wearing out. Having employees means you have to take care of their refreshments as well so you can think of coffee, tea and snacks and their associated costs.
You can have a customer service and sales office at a fraction of a cost of having one in a rented space. Companies will provide you with dedicated staff that will handle calls from your customers and give them immediate replies to their queries. One of the biggest benefits having a virtual office is how you can evaluate and analyze the work of an employee. Your employees are under no pressure that you are on their heads so their work tells you about their abilities and inabilities. You judge them from their work and not their appearance or habits.
As the owner of the business you don’t have to waste your time in commuting too. The traffic jams and flat tires will not be a problem for you when you are working from home or any mobile device that you own. Having a virtual office also means that the company providing you the services is taking the burden of the costs of technology. New computers, better internet connection, printers, scanners, fax machines etc. are all afforded by the company providing you virtual office services. If you never liked office politics, you won’t have to deal with it in a virtual environment.
How Technology Helps
The whole concept of virtual offices relies on the use of the internet. Furthermore, it is about how internet is fused with other technologies to make it a consistent and effective solution to fulfill the office space needs. Internet, mobile devices and many software as well as apps have opened new possibilities in the form of virtual offices. They have allowed startups to reduce costs and offer more flexibility to their workers.
Very easily, you can set up an office in your apartment and work from there. You can even work sitting in a café enjoying a cup of coffee, as long as you have a good internet. You can even change your location every day if you want to.
Top Benefits of a virtual office
The greatest perk of owning a virtual office is that it can prove to be beneficial for everyone who is a part of it such as the employees. Some of the advantages your business can enjoy of these offices are listed below:
1. Cheaper to Operate
In most cases, operating a virtual office is much cheaper than a traditional one. There is no need to rent office space and then pay for the utilities. Likewise, there is no need for paying any maintaining fees for remodeling the building, which allows you to save plenty in terms of cost. When you have a virtual office, you can work from anywhere, whether it is from the poolside or from the public park.
Having a virtual office can be cost effective because you just have to pay for the essentials like an internet connection. Furthermore, collaborating with employees is also simple as you can use cloud-based software or video conferencing for ensuring smooth operation of the business just like you would be face-to-face.
2. Best Employees
With a physical establishment, you can just have access to a limited number of employees. This is due to the fact that you can only hire workers who live in the nearby area and can easily commute to the workplace. While you may be able to get some good employees, you may not have access to the best talent as those people may live in different parts of the world. When you have a virtual office, everything becomes a possibility, including hiring employees from other areas around the globe. This enables you to hire the most skilled individuals for various positions and do better quality work. In addition, when you have employees in different time zones and countries, you can actually have a 24-hour business and provide services to clients round the clock.
In the case of a traditional office, employees are monitored to see at what time they arrive and what time they leave. However, in a virtual office, this doesn’t make a difference anymore. Now, the key is to establish specific goals that the employees have to achieve regardless of the time they sit down to work. Employees will only be able to keep their jobs if they meet these goals. If they don’t, you can simply let them go. This gives productivity a boost because employees are aware that there will be no one around to save them.
Moreover, turnover is also reduced as people can do their jobs in peace without having to deal with any workplace drama or pressure. Apart from that, employees don’t have to spend any time in commuting to and from the workplace. This can also save time and help the workers in doing their tasks efficiently and productively.
4. Impressing Clients
There are some people who are of the opinion that having a virtual office is unprofessional because you have to find random places for meeting clients. But, this is not the case. Virtual office services usually provide you access to meeting rooms, conference rooms, a business address and all the other facilities of a physical business. This is all done at a very reasonable cost so you can still impress clients without taxing your budget excessively.
A virtual office is also a good option in regard to health. Studies have revealed that sitting at a disk for prolonged periods of time can increase your risk of death by 40%. Also, sedentary lifestyles give rise to obesity and other health problems. With a virtual office, employees can move around and aren’t tied to one spot. This is a huge advantage as it keeps them active and prevents the health problems from occurring.
These benefits of a virtual office system have convinced a lot of business to give up their physical offices. Today, there are a wide array of virtual office services you can find ranging from a virtual receptionist, telephone answering services, mail forwarding etc. A business can opt for the services it needs and run their business in an organized fashion without worrying about the costs that are associated with traditional offices. Therefore, virtual offices are becoming increasingly common and are usually the top choice of new startups and businesses that wish to compete in the market with other established and large businesses. You can take advantage of virtual office services right away and set up your operations.