The past year has been a wild rollercoaster ride, to say the least. It has disrupted the way we functioned. Let’s face it. Who would have thought that the masses would suddenly begin working from home?
We went from the idea of remote working being only for freelancers to a world where brands were selling clothes and furniture for home offices. Why? Because everyone, except those in essential services, was suddenly working from home!
To put things into perspective, a 2020 Global Work From Home Survey revealed that while previously 31 percent of people were working from home before the pandemic, the figure rose to a whopping 88 percent during the pandemic.
With vaccines available and the world going back to old norms, the question remains whether remote working would continue or not. However, the chances are that the number of virtual offices will rise.
If you are thinking of setting up a business in today’s landscape, having a virtual office would allow you to reap various benefits.
Virtual Offices Explained
A virtual office refers to a business having a physical address, despite its workforce being remote.
This means that you can still have a mailing address without paying the cumbersome physical rent of the place. You don’t have to bear the administrative cost either.
It is an excellent solution for entrepreneurs and small business owners who wish to look professional in front of their clients without paying additional costs.
According to Work Remote, in 2019 alone, 1519 companies were using virtual offices. It is then safe to predict that the number would have drastically increased after 2020.
Most virtual offices provide businesses with the following services:
A receptionist for arranging appointments and meetings inside or around your virtual workspace.
Mail opening and scanning services or mail delivery.
Meeting rooms for appointments with your clients and stakeholders.
Voicemail and phone answering services.
Virtual Office Benefits: Why Bother?
You might wonder, now that the world is going back to the old ways, should you bother having a virtual address or look at how you can find a physical co-working space for your team? Well, the decision is yours.
But, there are certain benefits that only a virtual working space can provide you with. It doesn’t hurt to look at them! Here are all the advantages that you shouldn’t miss out on.
Virtual offices are eco-friendly
According to Medium, during the pandemic, the greenhouse emissions went down by over 17 percent. This was because of the decrease in industrial activity as well as transportation.
Even if your business doesn’t involve an operating factory, you are still contributing to environmental degradation. How? Well, your employees use vehicles to get to the office – vehicles that give off carbon emissions.
Additionally, in your workspace, a massive quantity of paper must be used. Restore reports that the average worker uses a whopping 10,000 sheets of paper a year! Collectively, think of the level of impact you have on the environment.
Virtual spaces cut down on all of these.
Since employees connect remotely to one another, the pollution caused by vehicles is avoided. And since virtual offices use remote working tools and electronic documents, less paper is used! Not to mention that you wouldn’t have to power an additional building from electricity that is generated mainly through fossil fuels.
Easy setup process
Setting up a physical location isn’t just costly; it is also quite a hassle. Whether it be signing leases, procuring furniture, or going through a plethora of paperwork, there is just too much to be done.
But, when setting up virtual space, all you need to do is follow the steps listed below:
Select the location you want your virtual space on.
Use a service provider to find a virtual space in your desired location.
Select a service package that is best aligned with your needs.
Collect and sign required paperwork.
Open your virtual office.
The best thing about the process mentioned above is that it can be done, in its entirety, online! Not to mention that you don’t have to be limited to your country. You can open virtual offices across the world. And shutting down a space that you no longer require is just as easy.
You pay for only what you need
Small Business Administration reports that approximately 90 percent of startups fail. The biggest reason for the failure? Cash flow issues.
With such odds stacked against you, the last thing any small business or entrepreneur would want to do is add on expenses that they can do without. And this is exactly what virtual offices allow you to avoid.
As mentioned previously, there is an array of services that virtual office spaces offer their clients. But, there is no pressure to choose them all. Neither are you charged for it all from the get-go.
Instead, you get to choose what set of services you need and when. And you are only charged for a service when you use it.
For instance, if you have just started out, you might not need access to a conference room. You can choose to select a plan which doesn’t include additional services. And when you feel that your business has progressed enough to require physical space, you can change your membership plan.
Access to a larger talent pool
The key asset of a company is its employees. And sometimes, the best resources aren’t the ones that are within proximity to your business.
While previously, the idea of having people work for you across the borders was only a pipe dream, this is no longer the case. You might be tired of the saying “the world has become a global village,” but it does remain true.
In fact, according to HRDive, 74 percent of workers surveyed said that they would be willing to quit their jobs to work remotely.
When you have a virtual setup, the sky is the limit when it comes to hiring talent. In today’s world, recruiting talent from online channels and finding online courses for training them are both a piece of cake.
Hence, you can easily have the best people working for you with remote working and virtual office spaces. This is likely to help your business to thrive.
Increased workforce productivity
Virtual office spaces are synonymous with a remote workforce. Why else would you require such a solution right? This means that benefits caused by remote working can also be extended to virtual offices.
And there is ample evidence to illustrate that remote working boosts productivity.
A study conducted by Standford regarding working from home productivity revealed that among the 16,000 workers researched, productivity increased by 13 percent over 9 months upon working from home.
Another research by Business News Daily illustrated that remote employees ended up providing work equivalent to 1.4 more days than employees who worked within an office space.
Why is this so?
This is because there is significantly less distraction in remote working compared to office-based jobs. In fact, a study by Inc. suggests that people are only productive for 2 hours and 53 minutes in a 9 to 5 job! This is not the case when working from home.
Hence, from an employer’s point of view, remote working and virtual spaces are quite beneficial.
Excellent business support
While you may expect virtual offices to be at a disadvantage to physical workspaces when facilitating clients, this is not the case. This is mainly because we live in a world powered by cutting-edge technology and digital solutions.
Here are some examples of tools that come in handy to maintain business dealings while working from virtual offices.
A professional mailing address and fax service can allow virtual offices to have the same footing as physical offices. In fact, you can add original area codes for your business in different cities by setting up virtual offices in each location.
Sophisticated software can come in handy in serving customers instantaneously. This includes chatbots on websites and CRMs to boost the sales journey.
Voicemail function at the virtual office premise ensures quick communication even when an employee is not available to answer the call. You can also set up a virtual voice to automate some of the queries of customers.
Since most of your dealings would use digital solutions, it is also important here to advise caution. Ensure that you secure all tools and provide your employees with adequate training to reduce your company’s vulnerability to cybercrimes.
Avoid overhead expenses
Let’s first begin by understanding what an overhead cost is.
Overhead cost refers to any expense that cannot directly be attributed to business activity, products, or services. This includes, but is not limited to, the following costs:
Virtual spaces allow you to cut down on such overhead costs. Since employees work using their own internet and within their own houses, you don’t have to worry about bearing any utility cost. Similarly, since space does not have to be maintained, no administrative expenses are incurred either.
The money you save from the overhead expenses can then be directed towards activities that reap direct revenues. This includes expansions, inventory management, as well as marketing and sales campaigns.
Leveraging local SEO
According to HubSpot, a whopping 46 percent of Google searchers are looking for local information. Another independent study by HubSpot Marketing Statistics revealed that 72 percent of consumers that performed a local search ended up transacting from a store within a 5-mile radius.
Hence, it is safe to say that having a robust online presence is a must in today’s world. And with a virtual space, you can leverage the power of local SEO as well. This is because you can use your registered address for SEO geolocation.
This will surely allow you to take advantage of the ‘near me’ feature easily. When prospective business partners and clients seek out businesses within their area, your brand will pop up. This will improve the probability of you getting the clients.
When opting for virtual office, try to opt for a location within the city’s heart to become accessible for all. For instance, let’s say you work from a suburb. You should open the office in the nearest city to gain maximum reach.
Unexpected visitors aren’t disappointed
The biggest myth regarding virtual offices is that they don’t cater to visitors and clients. This is not true.
Let’s assume that you are a B2B company. A customer searches you up online, and thanks to your excellent search engine optimization, they found your business. They decide to come looking for your business without a prior appointment.
Do you think they will be turned away? Not at all! Thanks to the presence of a receptionist, your customer will be greeted with a well-managed office. The worse that would happen is that they would have to return after securing an appointment. But, at least they would find your business credible!
However, to ensure that your customers or business partners are dealt with nicely, you need to choose your service provider carefully.
Virtual spaces are surely trending, owing to the pandemic and the behavior of Generation Z.
Whether you are a small business that wishes to set up a virtual space for the early days or are struggling to keep up with the costs of a physical premise owing to the pandemic, there are various reasons to have a virtual office.
Get each of the nine benefits (and maybe more!) by setting up a virtual office. Direct your concern and efforts towards creating a quality product rather than managing space and enjoy a physical address just the same.
Do let us know how your virtual journey pans out.