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Office Space

Your Guide to Creating an Effective Virtual Workspace

How can you create an effective virtual workspace you may ask? To get it right, there are a few factors to understand first. Read on.

 

The pandemic has paved the way for a “new normal” in the workspace: remote teams, hybrid teams, and workspaces composed of multiple people working from across the world within a closed virtual ecosystem. While millions have returned to working in offices, millions more are still working from home – and many of them are open to the idea of a long-term departure from traditional office life.

 

Throughout the pandemic, we have battled with the problems and inefficiencies of remote work, worried about the long-term implications to personal productivity and health, and discussed the impact of social isolation in a fully remote work setting.

 

Addressing the Issues of a Virtual Workspace

 

If you want to go fully virtual in your own business, employing the right strategies is key. You can:

 

      • Encourage and support employees as they create their own schedules to improve work-life balance.
      • Provide the option to work from nearby coworking stations rather than building a home office or taking the longer commute to work.
      • Continue to build up team culture and cohesion through virtual activities.

 

What Defines a Virtual Workspace?

 

Put simply, a virtual workspace is any set of configurations that allow a team to work and interact remotely – wherein every member of the team is working from their own station, in a place of their own choosing, collaborating either within the same timeslot or in multiple shifts (depending on where team members are located) via the Internet.

 

You could collaborate via fax and phone, but any efficient virtual workspace is going to exist almost exclusively through cloud-based collaborative software, TeamViewer, conferencing software like Teams or Zoom, and one or multiple team-based chatting applications.

 

Virtual workspaces are nothing new. They have been around (successfully) before the pandemic, although there has not been a single global event as pressing in the matter of digitalization than the COVID outbreak, and the way it necessitated social distancing.

 

In fact, even long before COVID, successful and large companies like WordPress operated fully remotely, without a central office of any kind. Everyone works from wherever they wish, wherever in the world they may be, collaborating solely via the net.

 

As a result of the pandemic, many tech companies were forced to subscribe to the same ethos, and some of them have taken it to heart.

 

There are challenges to overcome – not least of which include trying to cope with the stress and isolation of a fully remote workstyle while in the midst of a pandemic which, for a time, prohibited social gatherings – yet the longer lockdowns and quarantine measures pushed companies into investing in their digital infrastructure and virtual communication skills, the more teams have begun to toy with the idea of going and staying virtual for the long-term.

 

Understanding Virtual Workspaces

 

The biggest benefit of a virtual workspace is the total lack of a space-based constraint. If you are setting up a headquarter for your company and want your team to operate physically within one location, you need that location to be central to each team member’s home, while continuing to source talent from the same city and surrounding areas.

 

You can still collaborate with teams outside of your area and outsource work to teams as far as the other side of the planet, but your team needs a space they can work from together.

 

A virtual workspace means completely leaving behind the constraint of an office and allowing everyone to work from anywhere – so long as they have a stable internet connection and can agree upon a time when they’re available to collaborate live. This is a huge benefit to anyone struggling to commute to work.

 

Many companies even function despite incongruent time zones, by organizing meetings and brainstorming sessions at hours when everyone is awake and letting everyone do the solo tasks assigned to them during the rest of the day, when only half or a quarter of the team might be online at the same time.

 

Virtual workspaces are also far cheaper to set up than a main office. Your team members may or may not have most of the tools they need to get started, and at most, you’re looking at helping them finance a single workstation, or a laptop and a coworking space subscription. No maintenance costs, long-term lease anxieties, or the hefty overhead of setting up a fresh office.

 

While worker oversight certainly drops when introducing a virtual setup, team managers might be surprised at how much more productive many people become when left to their own devices and presented with a simple deadline or daily task structure.

 

Virtual workspace managers require a completely different skillset from the typical office manager, and it becomes their job to coordinate tasks, check in on individual team members, wrangle the crew together for meetings and occasional group calls, and organize online teambuilding events (such as game night, a Friday lunch/dinner call, or the annual real-life meetup).

 

Melding the Real and the Virtual Through Coworking

 

Not everyone can work from home. Some of us still need the atmosphere of an office to get into the right headspace to work – even if only because we associate home with comfort and relaxation, and struggle to find the right mindset to be productive without a dedicated home office.

 

This is where the middle way becomes apparent. Rather than commuting to a head office multiple miles away, virtual workspaces enable team members to collaborate while working from the nearest coworking space, giving them not only all the benefits of working in a remote team, but also the benefits of working in a productive office environment, one saturated by varied talents from different companies and industries, with no shortage of collaborative and networking opportunities.

 

Coworking spaces can become a critical puzzle piece in a lot of companies trying to make the transition to fully remote work, or startups that are expecting a boom in business, yet are apprehensive about investing in an office space of their own and want to pool talent from regions all across the globe.

 

If you want your business to go fully virtual, you will find that we’ve reached the point where there is no shortage of tools to help you do so.

 

Whether you go with Teams or Zoom, rely on Google Docs or a use a different set of collaborative software, or work via your own in-house solution, what matters is understanding that you must address everyone’s individual challenges along the way, and encourage your team members to bring their best to the table in return.

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Business Trends

Can a Virtual Office Address Be Used as a Legal Business Address?

Can using a virtual office address be beneficial for business growth? Find out all you need to know plus more below!

 

With COVID increasingly popularizing the business model of fully remote or hybrid work teams, it’s becoming harder and harder to justify the cost and upkeep of commercial real estate – but that doesn’t mean companies, whether big or small, can rely entirely on personal addresses or PO boxes as a legal business address.

 

Virtual offices represent a huge boon to businesses who can’t afford to lease a commercial space of their own, or function mostly remote, and see no benefit in investing a large portion of their working capital into a physical office only a handful of team members might be able to commute to, if at all.

 

But do virtual offices fulfill the requirements of a legal business address? In most cases, yes.

 

However, there are a few issues to discuss, and misconceptions to clear up.

 

The Merits of a Virtual Office

 

First, let’s tackle what a virtual office actually represents. In many cases, the name itself gives away the fact that the office does not exist in the same capacity that most conventional offices do.

 

However, virtual offices do share a real-life physical location, often in a commercial building within a business district or business park of some sort. Virtual offices often share the same street name with the offices of large financial institutions, banks, insurance companies, and broker firms.

 

Their business model relies on providing clients access to that name as a legal address, without requiring anywhere near the same financial investment usually needed to work at that address.

 

Virtual offices can be considered a legal business address. This is especially important when establishing a limited liability company, or an LLC. You can declare a virtual office as your business’ legal address in your Articles of Organization, a requirement for filing the paperwork as an LLC.

 

However, all LLCs and corporations are required to have a registered agent. These are required to be available to visit and talk to at a physical address during business hours. One solution is to hire a law firm to act as your registered agent. This way, you can still avoid keeping your personal information in the documents for your LLC. Some virtual office companies also provide registered agent services, to solve this problem entirely in-house.

 

What Are Virtual Offices Like?

 

If someone were to visit a virtual office, they would find most of the amenities that you would usually expect to see at an office. However, instead of being staffed by the employees of the companies that use said virtual office as their official location, virtual offices are staffed by receptionists and correspondence staff who receive and relay messages and packages for multiple companies.

 

For all intents and purposes, a virtual office serves the function of a front desk and call center for all the companies it hosts.

 

This does have a few drawbacks. For one, clients expecting to visit an office might be disappointed at the fact that the company they’re paying a visit to is a subtenant, so to speak. This is where a coworking space can come into handy.

 

Coworking Spaces as Virtual Offices

 

Coworking spaces are not virtual offices. But they can be. Coworking spaces rent their floor space and divided sections (such as meeting rooms and certain shared amenities) to a number of clients, including individual freelancers and contractors, as well as corporate satellite teams.

 

A coworking space may also offer virtual office services and may further allow client companies to make use of the space’s meeting room to receive and host clients, as well as use the space for in-person onboarding.

 

Why Not Use a PO Box?

 

PO boxes are a simpler and cheaper option for receiving and redirecting correspondence, but you also get what you pay for. A PO box is nothing more than a post office box that receives mail for you, and that’s about it. There is no physical location, no business address to speak of no office space for an LLC to claim as their legal business address, and certainly no space for a registered agent.

 

PO boxes can be used to receive fan mail and even certain important business correspondence when working as an entertainer from home, a career many have successfully started during the lockdown. This way, you can avoid putting out your personal address when wishing to receive messages and packages. However, for a company or remote team, a virtual office represents a much more practical solution.

 

Virtual Offices Vs. Home Offices

 

If privacy isn’t a concern for you, then there are a number of other reasons why registering your home address as your business address might get you in trouble.

 

These include loss of LLC and corporation rights, because LLCs and corporations are generally structured to provide limited liability. This requires at least a degree of separation between the professional and the personal. Naming your home your business address gets in the way of that.

 

You need also consider your Homeowners Association and your local zoning laws. Some residential areas and landlords prohibit home offices or might have a problem with you declaring a portion of your home a commercial area.

 

If you name your home as a business address, you should also prepare to receive a lot of correspondence and several in-person meetings.

 

Getting a Space of Your Own

 

Of course, simply getting a commercial space of your own is certainly easier said than done.

 

We have already mentioned some of the challenges in your way, including lack of access to the necessary funds, as well as maintenance fees, upkeep responsibilities, the additional cost of setting up the office, getting all the equipment together, and much more.

 

If you do find an office space you can afford, chances are it won’t be in an area you’re comfortable presenting your brand in, or it will have a number of potentially unwanted qualities to make up for its low price, such as incredibly little floor space.

 

Partnering with the Right Space

 

If you are in a position where you cannot afford the right address, then a virtual office might be a better solution for you. By working with a coworking space, you can even get the benefit of using an actual real office location for onboarding and client hosting, and much more.

Categories
Office Space

What is a Virtual Office and Why You Need It Today

What is a virtual office? It actually can be many different things! But what’s more important to think about is why you need it today. Read further for all the details.

 

For many companies, return-to-work plans are either already set in motion or have been drafted and prepared for the near future. Yet despite an optimistic outlook, many continue to be worried about the post-pandemic world we are striving towards – especially with regards to how far away that world really is.

 

Contingencies and future-proof office ideas have become more than just a luxury. Even as we begin to move away from what was once the “new normal,” it’s clear as ever that the office environment of the near future won’t be as it was just a year or two ago. Businesses will continue to trend towards hybrid setups or embrace remote work more than ever.

 

Yet not every business function can survive entirely over the internet, and there are still many processes we simply need an address and physical location for. That is where the virtual office enters the picture for largely remote businesses.

 

What is a Virtual Office?

 

A virtual office can easily be misunderstood as an office that only exists in the virtual space – i.e., the digital space – but this is not the case at all.

 

Instead, virtual offices serve as physical addresses and commercial spaces for companies that otherwise operate entirely within a remote workplace setting, utilizing said commercial space only for the bare necessities that require a real location.

 

These bare necessities can include having a landline to answer, an address to give out separate from an employee or manager’s home address, having a real commercial location to host important client meetings, process and onboard new hires, and receive and forward packages and mail.

 

Virtual offices are staffed by a skeleton of office support staff, who receive and redirect phone calls and messages, act as receptionists to surprise visitors, forward all incoming communications, and manage other essential tasks while the actual function of business occurs entirely remotely.

 

Some Processes Need an Address

 

Remote-only businesses are not a novel idea, and they’ve exploded in popularity since the coronavirus crisis began. However, there are certain things we can’t avoid when running a business, such as having face-to-face meetings with important clients and helping organize alternatives for employees who struggle to stay productive while working from home.

 

Getting an office of your own would defeat the purpose of a lightweight virtual office. That is where a coworking space comes into play.

 

Coworking spaces can act as an ideal virtual office to receive and forward packages, receive clients, provide a physical space for the onboarding process, and act as an address and phone number for clients to contact.

 

Coworking spaces offer short-term contracts that are easily canceled while providing all the amenities you would need to host and impress clients and new hires. In addition, they take away the busy work and stress of owning and managing your own commercial space, giving you an all-in-one package.

 

Geolocation and SEO

 

Another important reason to consider a virtual office is the benefit of existing in the real world, having a physical location for customers and clients to find and visit. Not only does that help inspire trust and give customers and clients the feeling that your business is tangible, but it also provides a tremendous boost in local clientele via simple search engine optimization.

 

Having a strong local presence, in the form of an address in a prime location and a local area code phone number, can greatly improve your chances of beating your competition to the punch when it comes to search engine rankings. Search engines like Google prioritize local results when suggesting businesses and services, which can give you the edge you need to outrank your competitors.

 

Separating the Professional from the Personal

 

Physical addresses are a must at some point – and giving out your own address to receive mail or packages isn’t always the safest or most professional option. A virtual office can act as a commercial and impersonal space to receive and forward packages, so your home address needn’t ever be revealed in conjunction with your work, letting you keep some much-needed privacy.

 

Virtual Offices for Onboarding and Client Meetings

 

The onboarding process can be done virtually, yet there are certain benefits to a face-to-face onboarding process that simply cannot be replicated over video calls and screen sharing. Making sure new hires are properly and personally received by the company is important when wanting to land a good first impression.

 

When you find and want to keep good talent, you need to make sure they understand they’re appreciated, and have become part of a real-life team that does exist, and even meets from time to time. Remote onboarding can work, but not as well as the real thing.

 

A virtual coworking office can act as both a space to receive clients and as a training room for new hires to be integrated into their workflow before they transition into remote work or continue from a space they are more comfortable with.

 

Package Receiving and Sending

 

Not to be understated is the simple benefit of having an address to receive and forward packages and mail, at a greater capacity than a simple P.O. Box. A virtual office gives the impression that your business has an established local presence and inspires greater trust in local clients.

 

Certain coworking spaces offer services such as package receiving and forwarding as part of their offering. This means you can set up a virtual office to host clients and new hires and rely on the coworking staff to receive and send packages to your home address. The benefits of staying remote, as well as the benefits of having a commercial address of your own.

 

The Benefits of a Virtual Office During COVID

 

The coronavirus crisis is an ongoing one, and as such, maintaining and visiting real office spaces isn’t in the cards for everyone.

 

By maintaining a skeleton crew, a virtual office can remain a safe space to work in for the staff dedicated to receiving and forwarding clients and communications, so you can rest easy knowing your business wouldn’t have to risk operating at the expense of anyone’s health or safety.