The Virtual Office idea came from a combination of technological innovation and the Information age. The concept of virtual office services has roots in the Industrial age where parallels to current work styles, specifically working from home, have been drawn.
The virtual office concept is an evolution of the traditional executive suite. As an executive suite lease became increasingly impractical for certain types and stages of business, it naturally opened the door to a virtual office concept.
What is a Virtual Office
A virtual office can be defined as a workplace or workspace which geographically separate from the main office but is linked through the use of telecommunications technology.
What is the Virtual Office Services
Virtual office services enable employees and business owners to work remotely by providing a range of business functions accessible through the internet. It also enables organizations to create and maintain a presence in a desirable location without the need to pay rent for an actual space.
Virtual office infrastructure may include a variety of physical locations and services, as well as digital services. The infrastructure is shared across individuals and entities allowing resources to be utilized more efficiently. This allows users the flexibility of only renting or using the services they need.
- A business address
- Virtual Mailing address(receive, pick up and/or forwarding)
- Conference rooms
- Desk space and private offices
- Printing and related services such as copying, binding, faxing, scanning, laminating, and shredding.
- Receptionist services and answering services
- Storage space
- Notary services
- Registered agent corporate services
- A phone number
- Online phone system (VoIP)
- Virtual assistants
- Website domains and email
- Instant Message, chat and other web-based RTC platforms
- Video conferencing, including webinar-hosting or other screen-sharing platforms
- Online digital storage
- Cloud-based applications (e.g. Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides or Office 365)
- On-demand video talking (ZOOM video, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, etc.
Why Do We Need Virtual Office Services
There are a variety of reasons, why we need Virtual Office services. Here are a few of the advantages and disadvantages of virtual offices.
Virtual offices allow businesses to significantly lower their overhead and allocate funds to other areas that may require stimulation. With prices well below those of brick-and-mortar offices (as is evident from the experiences of many entrepreneurs, thousands of dollars can be easily saved by replacing regular office space with virtual offices). They represent the ideal option for companies that are trying to make their presence felt in quite a few places at the same time.
Requires Less Management
The second greatest advantage of virtual offices is the lack of management needed. Regular offices have to be managed on a regular basis; a virtual office needs little management, simply the right tools for everyone involved. Employees also have greater flexibility to develop their workflow and productivity habits, which can lead to increased creativity and innovation.
A white paper published by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology found that in a survey of telecommuters, participants said that working remotely significantly increased job satisfaction and relationships with supervisors, and significantly lowered work-related stress.
This is because, in the Virtual office Management system, the employees have the freedom to manage themselves, which can have major benefits if you have the right team.
Less opportunity for office conflict
Even the most amicable offices have their issues. It’s difficult to gather a group of people with differing personalities and not experience some conflicts or disagreements. Virtual offices allow companies to continue to be productive without creating an environment where personalities may clash. And communication doesn’t suffer – teams can always be brought together via messaging or video conferencing apps when a question or issue comes up that requires communication with the whole team.
However, there are few disadvantages of Virtual office spaces too.
Lack of Physical Space
The lack of physical space is naturally the most important one, and it is something that business owners have to include in their business plan. If space is something that will be needed later on, virtual offices might not be worth the upfront cost savings.
Potential for decreased productivity
Although a virtual office may boost worker productivity, there is the potential for slacking. Many employees need the structure and discipline that a physical office provides to do their best work. Communications may suffer if team members are emailing each other back and forth rather than having a direct conversation.
How do we deliver Virtual Office Services?
Here is what some of the Best Virtual Office companies do to offer the best services to their clients.
Set up a Virtual Business office.
After booking your virtual office address, you now have to focus on getting the most out of your virtual workspace. Sure, you’ve saved considerable costs by going for a virtual office suite than leasing out a commercial office space but that doesn’t mean you can afford to ignore opportunities to double your investment.
To do that you need to:
- Take advantage of the in-house mail services: Have all of your mail sent to your virtual location.
- Use professional answering services after getting a local number. Deploy telephone services so you can focus on other important business matters. Plus, having someone else answer the phone looks good for your business, too.
- Maximize the features and amenities that come with your virtual office: Office equipment doesn’t come cheap. If you choose the right virtual office, you don’t have to worry about buying a printer, copier, the best Internet plan, and so on. These features already come with your virtual office rental fee.
- Attend networking events: We like to believe that no business is an island. This is why you must host monthly networking events that connect entrepreneurs and experts (e.g. accountants and lawyers) with each other.
- Set meetings with clients or investors without paying for conference room rentals: If you’re still paying for conference room rentals, you need to switch to a virtual office location that has fully furnished meeting rooms that you can use for free.
If your work involves traveling to client locations or other places away from your home base, you should probably consider buying a laptop computer rather than a desktop system.
If always working from the keyboard and small screen of a laptop doesn’t appeal to you, there are other solutions. To make using your laptop more efficient in your home office, a docking station can be set up that you can simply plug your laptop into.
Docking stations make it easy to have a standard monitor, keyboard and mouse, printer, fax machine, scanner, and other peripherals always hooked and ready to use. By plugging your laptop into the docking station, you are able to use it just like a standard desktop system, and you won’t have to worry about transferring or syncing files to another computer.
Virtual Office Software
On the software side of things, there are several options for you to consider. If you work independently and do not have others that you need to coordinate with then fulfilling your software requirements is not so difficult. Here are some categories of software you may need along with links to some of the most popular packages:
- An e-mail program — You can use the e-mail program that your ISP provides, but programs such as Microsoft Outlook Express or Eudora will give you good e-mail functions and you won’t have to change programs if you change ISPs.
- A word processor — Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, and Lotus Word Pro
- Spreadsheet and database programs — Microsoft Excel, Lotus 1-2-3, Intuit QuickBase
- Presentation software — Microsoft Powerpoint or Astound.
- Virus protection software — McAfee, or Norton Antivirus
- A utility program for computer maintenance — Symantec Norton Utilities, McAfee, or TechTool Pro.
- Portable Document Format (PDF) reader software – Adobe Acrobat Reader– This software is very helpful for reviewing formatted documents such as brochure layouts from outside designers or co-workers.
- Graphics and/or image editing tool — CorelDraw, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Macromedia Freehand, Deneba Canvas(Image editing software may also accompany your scanner.)
- Internet browsers — Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer
Group software needs
If you are working with others, and have the need to coordinate scheduling, access central files, maintain a contact manager, meet in chat rooms, etc. then you have more of a challenge. There are programs available, such as Lotus Notes or Novell Group-wise, that provide these types of features as a software solution. These solutions may require quite a good bit of computer knowledge and an IT person to manage the system.
The use of a virtual office 100% depends on your business type and so you should be sure to evaluate the pros and cons specific to you and your needs as a business.
So if you have decided that you need to be in the hustle and bustle, near the action in the heart of a city then you can leverage a combination of in-situation team and virtual assistants working around the world.
Set up Virtual Teams
A Virtual Team is a group of individuals who works across time, space, and organizational boundaries with links strengthened by webs of communication technology.
Members of virtual teams communicate electronically and may never meet face to face.
Virtual teams are made possible by the proliferation of the internet and world wide web technology that has significantly increased the scope of off-site communication.
Virtual teams allow companies to procure the best talent without geographical restrictions.
The advantages and disadvantages of virtual teams are given below:
- Increased Productivity: 24 hours of work opportunity.
- Extended Market Opportunity: With work teams located in different parts of the world, organizations are able to establish their presence with customers worldwide.
- Knowledge Transfer: Utilizing people with different types of knowledge spread out across the globe can be very beneficial to ant organization.
- Communication deficiency: Virtual Team suffers from a lack of efficiency in communication, partly due to constraints in virtual communication mediums.
- Poor leadership & management: Poor leadership can result in the failure of any team, whether virtual or not. However, it becomes more prominent in virtual teams.
- Incompetent team members: Virtual teams should consist of competent and experienced team members due to the different factors which can overtly affect the timing and completion date of a project.
There are so many combinations that might work for you, and each business is unique.
Here are your options in short:
- Find more remote office space and use this as your business address. This might work for companies that are logistically and operationally heavy and require warehousing and access to transport links.
- Find more remote office space and use a Virtual Office. This is likely to suit service professionals who want to live in the countryside or near the sea . They can easily commute for relevant meetings.
- Rent the desk space in your city that you need, and work with remote Virtual Assistants from around the world. This will bring your staffing costs down but still get your admin done. This is likely the solution for young businesses and startups.
- Rent a private office, install a slide and a trampoline, employ a full in-house team, and have full team collaboration. This is really only the option for successful startups and well-established businesses with solid cash flow tor funding.