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.