Everything You Need to Know About Virtual Offices: Advantages, Disadvantages, and More
It’s not a secret that working under the standard office nine-to-five work schedule in a physical office setting got very difficult due to social mobility and physical limits to contain the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic. This situation led certain businesses to establish virtual offices as a survival strategy for their economies and livelihoods.
A virtual office can be a great way to get the benefits of having a physical office without renting or purchasing physical space. In this blog post, we will discuss what virtual offices are, their advantages and disadvantages and how to set one up. So if you’re interested in learning more, keep reading!
Sometimes we can think we are living in very strange times as everything we know changes every second making it difficult to establish patterns.
In fact, the contemporary world is known as Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity (VUCA), and the business sector is not an exception!
And certainly, with the COVID-19 outbreak the business environment became even more VUCA. Who was expecting that a tiny little virus would lock us in for months, anyway?
Therefore, under this scenario, virtual offices have become not only a necessity but also an opportunity for businesses to maintain some level of operation even in the most trying times. Let’s take a look at what virtual offices are and how they can help your business stay afloat during these difficult times!
What Is A Virtual Office?
According to Messenger and Gschwind (2016), the term virtual office refers to an office space that employees can access and use via Information and Communications Technology (ICTs) tools to work remotely.
A virtual office is an office without walls
A virtual workspace replicates a physical location environment by using technology to connect employees who work in different locations. It’s a way of working that is not bound by geography.
In the virtual office package, there are a lot of services provided such as:
- A virtual business postal address
- Call answering services, mailing address, mail forwarding, and virtual receptionists
- Telephone answering and video conferencing service
- Cloud services, virtual private networks (VPN), and desktop as a service (DaaS)
The Rise of Virtual Offices
Even though we could think the concept of a virtual office is very “avant-garde” it is not a new concept. It’s been around for years! The first serviced office can be traced back to 1966, when Paul Fegen founded “Fegen Lawsuits.” The company provided office space, secretarial services, and receptionists to virtual businesses.
Nevertheless, the term “virtual office” was first coined in the late 1990s by Timothy Ferris, author of The Four-Hour Work Week. In his book, Ferris described them as:
“A new way of doing business that takes advantage of the latest technologies to allow people to work, however, whenever, and wherever they want.”
The virtual workspace has grown in popularity since Ferris’s book was published. In 2006, there were an estimated 30,000 virtual workspaces worldwide, and by 2016, that number had grown to over one million.
This growth is only expected to continue! According to Maximize Market Research, in 2020, the virtual office market was worth US$ 34.77 billion, with total revenue expected to grow at a rate of 16.52 percent from 2021 to 2027, reaching nearly US$ 101.39 billion.
Just look at the graphs below. A crazy growth if you ask us!
Like everything in life, there are a few reasons for this continued growth.
- First, there’s been an increase in the number of freelancers and solopreneurs in recent years.
- Second, technology has made it easier than ever to work remotely.
- And third, the rise of the gig economy has led to a decrease in the number of full-time employees.
All of these factors have contributed to the growing popularity of virtual workspaces. These spaces have become especially popular for small businesses and startups because they are cost-effective and offer flexibility that standard office spaces cannot match.
This flexibility also refers to the opportunity to choose the type of virtual office you need, let’s address them!
Types of Virtual Offices
Three main types of virtual offices provide an array of virtual office packages. Let’s take a look at them!
Virtual Office That Provides A Business Address
This virtual office provides you with a virtual office address and sometimes also offers additional services such as mail forwarding and telephone answering services.
This type of virtual office is a good option if you need to have a physical address for your business but don’t need or want the hassle of renting an actual physical workspace.
Virtual Office That Provides A Workspace
These virtual workspaces provide you with access to a workspace, usually in the form of desks or a coworking space. This can be a good option if you need a place to work but don’t want to rent your own physical office space.
An interesting fact about coworking spaces is that according to data from the 2019 Coworker Member’s Choice Awards, 77% of coworking operators claimed they planned to expand by opening new sites, even before the coronavirus impacted the global economy!
Virtual Offices That Provide Both A Business Address And A Workspace
These virtual office services provide you with both a virtual office address and access to a physical workspace. This is a good option if you need both a physical address for your business and a place to work, but don’t want to rent an actual office space.
Advantages Of Having A Virtual Office
We have listed a few reasons why the virtual office establishment has seen incredible growth. To enrich that list, let’s breach the advantages that come with having a virtual office.
Reduced Overhead Costs
One of the biggest advantages of having a virtual workspace is that it can help you save money on overhead costs. When you have a virtual office, you don’t have to worry about things like rent, utilities, or furniture.
This can be a big advantage for small businesses and startups that are trying to keep their costs low.
Increased Flexibility and Freedom
Another big advantage of having a virtual office is that it offers increased flexibility and freedom. With a virtual office, you can work from anywhere in the world as long as you have an internet connection.
This is perfect for people who want to travel or work from home.
Improved Work-Life Balance
When you have a virtual workspace, it can be easier to achieve a work-life balance. This is because you can design your own schedule and work from anywhere.
This can be a huge advantage for people who want to have more control over their time.
Better Access to Talent
Virtual offices also give you the chance to hire employees from anywhere in the world and join a global network of professionals. This means that you can find the best talent for your business, regardless of location.
Improve Company Image
The virtual office is all about the client. The company’s image, as well as its ability to draw in clients, is what fuels the virtual office’s fire.
Clients and customers are always impressed when they see that you have a virtual workspace. Having a virtual office shows that you are professional and serious about your business.
Some other advantages are summarized down below!
Disadvantages Of Having A Virtual Office
Of course, nothing is perfect and the virtual office services have their disadvantages as well. Let’s take a look at them!
Less Structure and Support
One of the biggest disadvantages of having a virtual office is that there is less structure and support. With a virtual office, you are responsible for setting your own hours and managing your own time.
This can be difficult for some people who prefer more structure in their lives.
It Can Be Difficult to Build Relationships
When you have a virtual office, it can be difficult to build relationships with your team members or clients. This is because you’re not working in the same physical space, so it’s harder to develop personal relationships.
You May Feel Isolated
Another downside of having a virtual office is that you may feel isolated.
When you have a virtual office, it can be difficult to get the same level of personal service as a traditional office. This is because you’re not working with someone face-to-face.
How Much Does It Cost To Set Up A Virtual Office?
The cost of setting up a virtual workspace depends on the type of virtual office you choose and the virtual office package you need. For example, according to Alliance Virtual Offices, if you just need a business address, you can expect to pay around $50 per month for a basic plan depending on the city.
If you need access to a workspace, you can expect to pay around $200 per month. And if you need both a business address and access to workspace, you can expect to pay around $500 per month.
Setting Up Your Own Virtual Office
Now that we’ve gone over what virtual offices are and their advantages and disadvantages, it’s time to set up your own!
If you’re interested in setting up a virtual office for your business, there are a few things you’ll need to do:
Set Up A Strategy
Before setting up a virtual office, you need to have a strategy in place. The first step is to identify your goals. What do you hope to achieve by having a virtual office? Once you know your goals, you can start to put together a plan.
You’ll need to decide what kind of space you need, what kind of equipment you’ll need, and how you’ll manage your virtual workspace. You’ll also need to consider how to promote your virtual office and make it attractive to potential clients.
Select The Services You Need
Whether your business is run only by you or you have a larger remote working team, you need to determine your workspace needs.
Do you need meeting rooms or the ability to make phone calls? Do you need a private office to get some work done? Or do you just need a business address?
Once you know what services you need, you can start looking for virtual office providers.
Choose a Responsible Company Provider
There are many virtual office companies to choose from, so it’s important to choose one that is responsible and has a good reputation.
Do some research on the internet and read online reviews to get an idea of which providers are the best. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, contact each provider and ask questions about their services.
Claim Your Business Address
Your business address is more than just a location for your company. It’s also a representation of your brand and what you stand for.
A business address makes you highly visible and easy to find
By claiming your business address, you’re not only setting up a virtual office, but you’re also giving your customers and clients a place to find you. And because your business address is virtual, you can have it in any city or town you choose.
Get The Right Tools
You must have the right tools to manage your virtual workspace. You need to be able to communicate with your team, share files, and stay organized.
There are several communication and collaboration tools available, such as Slack, Zoom, and Google Drive.
Promote Your Virtual Office
As the internet is a vast space, you can use it to your advantage to promote your virtual workspace.
Ensure you include your virtual office address on your website and in your email signature. You can also share photos and videos of your virtual office space on social media.
Overall, virtual offices are a great way to reduce costs and increase flexibility for your business. They offer many advantages, but there are also a few disadvantages to consider.
Before setting one up, do your research on the best virtual office packages, create a strategy, and equip yourself with the right tools to ensure that your virtual office is a success. Thanks for reading! We hope this article was helpful.
So what are you waiting for? Set up your virtual office today!
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