Solopreneurs, business start-ups, and companies looking for a quick and easy way to expand into new locations often begin with virtual office spaces. But just because they’re quick and easy doesn’t mean they’re right for everyone. Here are some of the pros and cons of a virtual office, to help you decide if going cybernetic is the right choice for your business.
What Are Virtual Offices?
Virtual offices give you a physical address presence without you actually being there. They’re usually located in highly desirable and high-cost areas such as San Francisco or Miami. With a virtual office you can have a high-profile business address at a fraction of the cost of leasing traditional office space or even a coworking space in that same area.
There are virtual office locations throughout the U.S. and around the world. They’re a perfect choice for business owners who need a home base while traveling. Virtual offices also make it easy to tap into top talent from anywhere in the world while letting employees work remotely.
How Do Virtual Offices Work?
The internet is key to creating a platform that makes virtual offices work:
- Cloud-based solutions such as virtual desktops let businesses and their employees work from any location, anywhere, and at any time.
- Software and services such as Skype, Dropbox, and WhatsApp Business make it easy for staff and clients to effortlessly collaborate without being in the same space or country.
- Global high-speed internet is now available in almost every part of the world, allowing staff from far-flung places like Dallas, São Paulo, and Singapore to work together virtually online.
What Services Do Virtual Offices Provide?
With this internet-based platform as a foundation, virtual offices give users access to a wide range of services:
- Physical, prestigious business address vs. a P.O. Box or residence.
- Professional front office services such as a live receptionist, answering service, and voicemail.
- State-of-the-art meeting rooms and conference facilities paid for as needed.
- Mail receiving, scanning, and uploading for correspondence that can’t be emailed.
Pros Of Having A Virtual Office Location
The top five advantages of having a virtual office location are:
- Overhead spending is reduced by not having a physical space that needs to be furnished, decorated, and maintained on a long term lease.
- Tasks can be affordably outsourced by using virtual assistants.
- Recruiting top talent from anywhere in the world makes it easy for businesses with a global perspective to diversify.
- Staff can work when they want and where they want, because not everyone functions on a 9 to 5 work schedule.
- Commuting? Forget about it. The flexibility of virtual offices turns time wasted commuting into extra productive hours each day.
Cons Of Having A Virtual Office Location
Virtual office space isn’t the right choice for every business. Drawbacks include:
- Staff working in different times zones can make management and real-time collaboration a challenge.
- Creating a company culture is much more difficult, tho far from impossible, when people aren’t face-to-face.
- Physical access to virtual offices might be limited, so arriving in Manhattan on the red-eye flight from London could mean hanging out in the coffee shop down the street until the office opens.
- Working from home isn’t for everybody – while being remote sounds good, many people are their most productive when they’re in a more traditional office setting.
How To Decide Between A Virtual Office And A Traditional Office
If your business runs entirely online then choosing a virtual office might make sense. However, sometimes business owners feel that not having a physical location creates a stigma with both clients and staff.
Here are things to consider when deciding between a virtual office and a traditional office.
- Pros: Cost-effective, optimum flexibility, no wasted commuting time, tap into global talent, and easier on the environment.
- Cons: No physical location, if the internet goes down your business is down too, and lack of social contact that can help to make work enjoyable.
- Pros: Physical location can create more credibility and customer trust, easier to arrange meetings in your own space, create a company culture and business brand identity.
- Cons: Location might not be easily accessible to everyone, costs of leasing traditional office space keep rising, and negative office politics can flourish when people are face-to-face – creating yet another management headache.
What To Ask Before Choosing A Virtual Office
Still undecided? Here are six questions to ask before choosing a virtual office:
- Which is the best match for your company’s needs – virtual, coworking office, or traditional space?
- Are there different virtual office providers to choose from in your market area?
- Is your virtual office flexible enough to adapt as your business grows?
- Does a virtual office offer the customer service and support features your firm requires?
- Where is the virtual office physically located, and does that location match the image of your business?
- Will the virtual office provider offer different pricing tiers for different levels of service?
The Bottom Line On Pros And Cons Of A Virtual Office
Virtual offices are a great way to save money, expand into new markets with a physical address, and tap into top talent from around the world. Granted, some businesses still might need traditional office space, but in today’s rapidly evolving global economy, many companies are discovering that virtual office solutions offer the customer service and convenience to help their business prosper.