In a digital era where the global coronavirus pandemic put limits dramatically on our ability to have face to face interaction, many business owners are seeking virtual solutions for their companies. This is the main reason why an increasing number of entrepreneurs are considering virtual offices as a valuable alternative to brick and mortar offices.
If you landed on this page, you are more likely to be the owner of a small to mid-size company or a freelancer. No matter what journey you are on, I know that the path ahead of you can sometimes seem foggy and difficult, as every start-up has challenges to overcome.
This is why I hope that this article can help you. The paragraphs you are about to read are not just about the advantages that might make a virtual office worth it but you will also learn how to consider and assess the options available before deciding whether it is worth investing in a virtual office or not. (Just a small tip – You can use the same formula to evaluate options that arise in your personal life.)
Table of contents:
I’ll do my best to avoid those boring definitions that I guess you already found on the Internet when you asked Google “what is a virtual office?”.
Essentially, a virtual office provides your business with a range of services. These services offer you the same benefits as a brick and mortar office without actually renting or buying a physical workspace.
Since a virtual office can offer you the same benefits as a physical office, you can think of it as an ordinary workspace but in a virtual format – hence the name ‘virtual office’.
Although it might seem surprising, virtual offices are not a modern and innovative concept. They date back to the 1970s. According to Wikipedia, in 1962 the first known serviced office company – OmniOffices Group was created. Four years later, in 1966, Fegen Law Suites, a company located in California, was renting out serviced offices and executive suites. The company was also offering an “off-site tenant program” to attorneys who needed office services.
Nowadays, a virtual office package can include various services such as virtual address, secure business mailbox, permanent landline number, post handling and mail forwarding, boardrooms and meeting rooms, and other auxiliary services.
In a few words, a virtual office allows you to work from anywhere and yet it gives your business a professional appearance. You are free to work while laying on the sofa in your house while dressed in your pyjamas and surrounded by cats (Please don’t close this page if you’re a dog lover. I am just fond of feline’s independent nature).
Nevertheless, your customers will have the impression that you are working at a desk while wearing a perfectly ironed shirt and a tie. Does this affect the quality of your work? Of course it doesn’t, it just makes you a happier person in general.
Now let’s see all the advantages that a virtual office can bring to your company and how it can enhance your businesses growth and efficiency:
- Makes your business appear more professional and trustworthy
Yes, I know I already mentioned this benefit in the first section but I prefer to do it twice since this is one of the most important advantages of a virtual office.
Having a virtual address and a conference room where you can meet your clients for the first time will give your business a more credible and legitimate image. However, keep in mind that the rentable meeting rooms are not included in all virtual office packages.
A prestigious virtual address will increase your businesses reputation (A friendly piece of advice from my own experience – If you are having a lot of zoom calls and want to ensure you keep your good reputation, please make sure you lock all your cats in a room before having a video conference with one of your clients. Trust me, it is not a good look when they start fighting with each other – this could be the same for dogs, cats and potentially even children.)
And last but not least, your reputation will increase because the virtual addresses included in any virtual office package will improve your company’s SEO performance in local search results.
- Saves you money
This one is perhaps the most obvious. Your business won’t have to face high set-up costs or overhead costs. You will not have to pay the expenses that a physical office involves; such as bond, rent, furniture, equipment, janitors, IT services, parking passes, etc.
Moreover, you won’t have to spend money anymore for office attire – besides on those days when you decide to meet your prospects or clients face-to-face. (And, pyjamas are cheaper and more comfortable too).
- Unlimited access to top talent
Unlike traditional offices where your business starts to grow with the dependance on staff being physically co-located, having a virtual and remote mindset from the start will mean that you are able to utilise talent from anywhere. You are free to find everywhere around the world the finest talent that you believe will help grow your business and make it the success you hope it can be.
An obvious point is that many start-ups make the most of team members out of countries such as the Philippines, India, etc for the cost saving benefits and that is available for you as well.
- Provides support for scaling
As you scale, you can access a wider range of services (the ones that I was talking about at the beginning of this article).
For example, if your company starts to grow and you won’t be able to answer all the phone calls anymore, the virtual receptionist provided by the virtual office will answer these calls for you and allow you to focus on your business without having to hire a new team member.
Besides, with a virtual office you will never have to worry about relocation as your business expands.
- Saves you and your team time
A virtual office means no commuting. No travel or traffic. This means that you are going to save precious time (I would personally use it to train my naughty cats).
Moreover, there are other ways a virtual office can save you and your team time. For example, you won’t waste time hiring and training a new receptionist or driving to the post office to get your physical mail (remember that virtual offices can offer you mail-forwarding services) – of course, unless traffic jams allow you to achieve a sense of mindfulness and to have a zen attitude. However, something tells me that traffic jams do not help you increase your peace of mind. Am I right?
- Increased productivity
Remote work can have a positive influence on employees and yourself. According to an IBM study, teleworkers believe their workplace is more innovative and are happier about job prospects and performance management. If you ask yourself why a remote job can make them feel excited, remember that if you do not like to experience a white-knuckle drive during stormy weather or heavy snowfall, the same is valid for your employees.
Therefore, a flexible work environment will make your employees happier. If they are happier they are more efficient. Besides this, remote work reduces distraction and they will put more focus on their tasks.
You and your employees can work from multiple locations and live a healthy work-life balance. Remote work allows you to have more flexibility in your schedule or to work hours that suit your personality.
Are you a night owl? If yes, do you know what it means to get up at dawn, dress a wrinkled shirt, put on two completely different shoes and get out in a hurry hoping that for the first time you won’t spill on your shirt the coffee you grab while driving? (please don’t do that, an unironed shirt full of coffee stains won’t help you maintain a good reputation). Having flexible work means that you are free to get up whenever you want, grab your coffee whenever you want and work whenever you want. Is there anything better than this?
I am not here to tell you that if you don’t choose a virtual office your start-up has no chance to grow. The only purpose of this article is to reveal to you the advantages that make a virtual office worth it (and that I personally consider powerful enough).
But the choice is up to you.
For example, you are free to use your home address as a virtual address. No-one will stop you and there are no problems with it. It just depends on whether it bothers you or not that everyone will know where you and your family live.
So, how can you find out if a virtual office fits your business?
The best advice I can give you is to prepare a five steps strategy in order to evaluate the options you have.
- Identify what are you looking to gain from an office
Think about why you are looking for a virtual office in the first place. Are you looking to have it generate leads and sales? (eg, it needs to bring in more revenue that it costs you). Are you wanting to use it to boost your perception in a better address than your current place of residence? (eg, it’s an operating expense that needs to have an appearance that aligns to your business). Are you wanting somewhere to regularly meet new prospects face-to-face at the same address that is on your business card? (eg, you need a space where you can use their address and have meeting rooms). And, do you need to access your mail after hours? (eg, a place that is open Monday to Friday 9-5pm might not suit your needs). You need to answer all these questions first.
- Identify your options
What other choices do you have apart from a virtual office? A physical office? Coworking space? A serviced office? Or a home office? I won’t give you a long speech about the main differences between these working spaces, but you can read here if you are interested to learn more about this topic.
Ensure that the option you chose achieves all of the outcomes you are looking to gain from an office and address.
- Make a shortlist
Reduce all the options you have to a shortlist. For example, If you consider that a brick and mortar office is way too expensive for your budget, just cut it from the list.
- Analyse your options
At this point, I would suggest you to:
- Apply the cost-benefit analysis – For example, check by yourself to see if all the advantages of a virtual office that I mentioned above can outweigh the costs.
- Do a risk analysis – Try to identify the potential issues that could negatively impact the development of your business.
- Make your choice
Decide if a virtual office (or any other kind of office) worth it and can help you grow and expand your business.
Finally, I will give you a straightforward answer to your question, based on the analysis above – Yes, in most scenarios virtual offices are well worth the investment. I do believe this due to the huge gap between the low-costs they involve and the high benefits they bring to your business.
Even so, do your own analysis.
Remember that the most important advantages of a virtual office are: giving a professional image to your business, saving your business time and money, unlimited access to top talent, providing support for scaling, flexibility, and more productivity.
Virtual offices are practical and affordable especially for freelancers, start-ups, and small to mid-size companies. They can actually guarantee an easier way to success, with little to no overheads.
So why not to give it a try? (And hopefully when you do, you will also include B2B HQ in your shortlist)