This is part of our virtual office series! Read How to Hire and Retain Remote Employees.
The future of business is upon us. Since COVID-19 struck back in 2020, the remote office shift has increased, thanks to many companies seeing its value. In the modern business world, physical office space is no longer needed.
With that being said, we also know remote work, albeit a tempting offer, simply will not work with certain companies, especially some small businesses. On the other hand, specific industries may need to be made aware of the potential benefits a remote office can offer (or even a hybrid schedule). With technological advances, more businesses are moving to a virtual office model, which could be an excellent fit for your business if implemented correctly.
But is a virtual office really right for your business? Let’s examine the pros and cons to help you decide. We’ll also go over the concept of hybrid schedules and how that could work.
The Pros of a Virtual Office
1. You can save money on rent, utilities, and other overhead costs.
For many business owners, this is a huge relief and motivator to switch to a virtual office. With a virtual office, you can eliminate the need for a physical space, which means no expensive rent or utilities. If your business is primarily online, there’s no need to keep an office space – especially since most everyone has internet at home and computer access.
2. You can attract top talent from anywhere in the world.
When you’re not tied down to one location, you can open up your hiring pool to talented workers from around the globe. This is especially beneficial if you’re looking for niche skill sets or diverse perspectives.
Workers are also more likely to be attracted to companies that offer remote work options. Flexibility is becoming a hugely influential factor – this survey stated that 86% of employees felt it was “important or very important” to have control over their schedule. This brings us to…
3. You can have a more flexible work schedule.
Since there’s no need to commute to an office, virtual employees can have a more flexible work schedule. This can mean starting and ending the workday earlier or later, depending on what works better for them. And since there are no set office hours, employees have more freedom and flexibility when taking time off.
These benefits can lead to a lower turnover rate, and help grow your business since happier employees = a more dedicated staff who put their best foot forward. More satisfied employees make all the difference in your company’s overall success.
4. You can improve work-life balance.
The virtual office often creates a better work-life balance for employees and owners. Since they don’t have to commute, they have more time for themselves and their families. And since they can create their schedules, they can better manage their time and responsibilities outside work.
When employees can better manage their work-life balance, stress and burnout become less chronic and much easier to tackle.
5. You can promote a greener workplace.
By eliminating the need for commuting, virtual offices can help reduce your company’s carbon footprint. In fact, remote work can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of taking 96 million cars off the road. And since virtual offices don’t require as much energy to maintain, they’re also more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
We’re constantly hounded by news reports and scientists to start taking better care of our planet, so this is a great way to make a slight difference. Earth will thank you, and so will your employees (no more hour-long traffic on the home commute!)
6. You can use the latest technology to be more productive and efficient.
When you have a virtual office, you can take advantage of the latest tools and technologies to help improve communication and collaboration among employees. Services like Slack, Zoom, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams make it easy for employees to connect and work together, no matter where they are.
Just because you’re not in the same room doesn’t mean the office structure will break down. Regular video meetings and virtual chats will help you stay in touch with your teams all day.
7. You can scale your business up or down without worrying about excess office space.
Renting or leasing office space can be an enormous financial burden for small businesses. You can save money on these costs with a virtual office and only pay for the necessary virtual services. This makes it much easier to scale your business up or down as needed without worrying about whether you have too much or too little office space. Win, win!
8. You can focus on your core business goals without being distracted by day-to-day office management tasks.
When you have a virtual office, you can outsource many day-to-day tasks that come with maintaining a physical office. This includes ordering supplies, managing IT issues, and scheduling repairs to name a few. This way, you can focus on your core business goals without being distracted by these administrative tasks.
Outsourcing these services also means you’ll have access to experts who can help keep your virtual office running smoothly. This can save you time and money in the long run.
9. You can still have a professional business address without needing physical office space.
This is a concern for many business owners. Becoming a virtual office sounds like throwing away your physical location, which is scary for those who have always operated in a particular area. However, a virtual office provider can get you a professional business address, which can be used for your website, business cards, and marketing materials. This way, you can still maintain a professional image without needing physical office space.
Plus, many virtual office providers offer mail forwarding services. This means you can have your mail sent to your virtual office address, and it will be forwarded to your home or wherever else you need it to go. See? We really are living in the future.
Lastly, if you choose to have a co-working space, you can use that as your physical address.
10. You can still use co-working spaces for meetings or events instead of maintaining your own space.
This is a great option for those who want to keep their virtual office but still have access to meeting space when they need it. Co-working spaces offer flexible, short-term leases that can be used for meetings, events, or even as temporary physical office space.
And since co-working spaces are often located in popular areas with lots of foot traffic, this can be a great way to get your business name out there and attract new customers.
The Cons of a Virtual Office
Of course, you should consider some drawbacks to having a virtual office before switching.
1. You may feel isolated from your team.
If you’re not used to working remotely, adjusting to being away from your team can be challenging. You may feel isolated from the company’s culture and miss out on essential bonding experiences with your co-workers. This is why it’s essential to make an effort to stay connected with your team, whether that’s through regular video meetings, virtual happy hours, or even just sending funny memes back and forth.
Strong management skills are key here, so you’ll need to make sure you can adjust to remote life while also helping keep your teams functioning as they should.
2. You may have a harder time staying focused on work.
When you work from home, getting distracted by your family, your pets, or your favorite TV show playing in the background can be easy. This can make it challenging to stay focused on work and be as productive as you would like.
If this concerns you, here is our suggestion: Create a dedicated workspace in your home that’s separate from the rest of your living space. This will help you mentally transition into “work mode” when sitting at your desk. Be sure to pass this information on to your employees too!
3. You may have difficulty building credibility with clients or customers.
Virtual offices can be a great way to keep costs low while maintaining a professional image if you’re just starting out or need to save money. However, if you’re trying to build credibility with high-end clients or customers, they may prefer to work with a company that has a physical office space.
There are ways around this, though. For example, you can use your co-work space office address (or one from a virtual office provider) on your website and marketing materials. Host necessary meetings at the co-working space. You could also rent conference rooms at hotels. This way, you can still be professional and credible without breaking the bank.
4. You may miss out on networking opportunities by not having a physical presence in your industry.
If you don’t have a physical office, attending industry events and networking with other professionals in your field can be difficult. This is another area where co-working spaces come in handy. Many of them host networking events you can attend, which can help offset the lost opportunities from not having a physical space.
LinkedIn is also a great way to stay connected within your industry. You could also join a networking group. Read Pick the Networking Group That Works For You.
5. You may need to put in extra effort to create and maintain company culture.
When you don’t have a physical office, creating and maintaining company culture can take more effort since employees are remote. You’ll need to get creative here!
Try hosting virtual happy hours, holiday parties, or company retreats (if everyone is in the same time zone). You could also consider doing team-building exercises, sending employees birthday cards, or other thoughtful gestures.
6. Your employees may miss out on collaboration opportunities by not working close to one another.
If your employees are remote, they may miss out on the creative collaboration that can happen when people work closely together. If you think this could be an issue for your team, consider using video conferencing or chat software to encourage collaboration and idea sharing.
Some of our favorites include: Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and monday.com!
7. You’ll need to ensure everyone has the right equipment and internet connection.
Working remotely requires each employee to have a computer and a strong internet connection. This can pose a problem if someone doesn’t have access to reliable technology or lives in an area with spotty internet service.
Before switching to a virtual office, ensure everyone on your team has the necessary equipment and internet speed. If not, you may want to invest in some upgrades or consider keeping a few employees in a physical office space.
What about a hybrid schedule?
If you’re unsure if a virtual office suits your team, consider starting with a hybrid schedule. This means some employees come into the office part-time while others work remotely full-time.
You can use this schedule to see how your team functions with remote workers and make changes as needed. For example, you may find that specific roles work better in an office setting while others are more productive at home.
Here are some interesting hybrid schedule stats, courtesy of Zippia.com:
- 44% of U.S. employees prefer a hybrid work model, compared to 51% of employers.
- 63% of high-growth companies use a “productivity anywhere” hybrid work model.
- 55% of employees want to remotely work at least three days a week.
The bottom line
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to whether or not a virtual office is suitable for your team, and it depends on many factors, including your industry, company size, budget, and employees’ needs.
If you’re not sure a virtual office is suitable for your team, that’s OK. There’s no need to rush into anything. You can always start with a few remote workers and see how it goes. Or, if you have the space, you can set up a hybrid office, with some employees working remotely and others coming into the office a few days a week. The important thing is to find what works best for your team.
Is a virtual office suitable for your team? Let us know in the comments!
Is there anything we missed? Let us know in the comments too!
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more updates to our virtual office blog series! Contact us to see how we can help your business.