The days of a bustling office floor with dozens of employees in formal wear are long gone. Traditional workplace methods have been replaced by newer, more cost-effective working methods, such as a virtual office.
A virtual office provides the functions and services of a regular office, but without a physical location. It is ideal for a fledgling business as it saves on overhead costs. This makes virtual offices popular for small businesses or start-ups. They can save expenses relating to a physical office but still get the benefits of a typical office address. So what are the other benefits?
Along with the reduction of expenses, a virtual office affords you unparalleled flexibility. With an internet connection, anywhere can be your office! Let's explore why you need a virtual office and what is required while creating a virtual office.
Why Do You Need a Virtual Office?
Due to early financial difficulties, new companies want to reduce their costs wherever they can. Office payments account for the major expense and need to be curtailed first. For instance, a coworking space in a business hub such as New York City can cost up to $500 per month.
If you prefer setting up an office space yourself, then the 3-30-300 rule is more relevant. It gives the actual cost of operating an office space. For every $3 spent on utility payments, $30 is spent on rental costs and a further $300 in payroll expenses per square foot of working space annually.
For a business struggling to find its feet in the early days, these costs can present challenges and hamper growth. Take into account a recent study that private offices remain unoccupied 77% of the time. With such a waste of resources, the case for creating a virtual office becomes even more substantial.
7 Steps to Create a Virtual Office
Now that we know why we need a virtual office let's familiarize ourselves with the 'how’. Here are a few steps:
Have a Strategy
Hire the Right People
Set up an Office Address
Set up an Office Phone
Get Necessary Tools
Have a Virtual Assistant
Stay Connected with Your Team
1. Have a Strategy
A sound strategy saves you from having to struggle later on down the road. While creating a virtual office, note down your to-do's and ensure you have the whole process planned out.Even though you are not working in a regular office space, you still need to make a strategy.
This is not too different from what you would usually have if you were working traditionally. The fundamentals of business do not change, and neither do the objectives.
Some areas which need planning are:
• Market Analysis
• Competitor Analysis
• Value Propositions
• Company Structure
• Target Market
• Marketing Strategy
• Financial Inflows
2. Hire the Right People
An idea might be borne out of a single mind, but it needs to be implemented by a team. With an unorthodox way of working, finding the right people for the job can be challenging. Some employees might take a while to adjust to the new system, while some might not adjust at all.
With a virtual office, the talent pool you can choose your team from expands significantly, perhaps even becoming global. Flexibility in work is something most employees look for, and it can entice talent to come and work for you.
3. Set Up an Office Address
Even if you are working virtually, you still need to receive mail. This mail can be official documents or client correspondence. Moreover, there can be regulatory hurdles, which might require you to have a physical office location and contact details.
Apart from the red tape, it is beneficial for a company's public image to have a professional working address. There are multiple service providers for a virtual address. They give you a physical address to receive your mail and other documents. Whenever they receive mail intended for you, you get a notification or a message from the digital mailroom.
You can then choose a further course of action regarding the package. You can have it opened and scanned and sent to you, or held, or destroyed. Now, you know how to create a virtual office address.
4. Set Up an Office Phone
Similar to an address, a phone number is something that is a must. Virtual phone systems use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, and all communication is done over the internet. With VoIP, you get a regular phone number but without having to get a physical landline.
You can use VoIP systems on your Android/iOS mobile phones or laptops and computers using Windows or Mac. This saves you from having to purchase additional hardware such as a table phone.
5. Get the Necessary Tools
It is essential that you are well equipped and prepared for running your virtual office like a well-oiled machine. For this purpose, you need some tools at hand that can help your work progress smoothly. They can be productivity software, storage services, scheduling platforms, and much more. Let's discuss an example!
Cloud storage is something that you will need if you are working out of a virtual office. Keep your data safe and secure while still being easily accessible across the business. Tools like Trello help keep the team on the same page and efficiently manage many personnel tasks. Other services also offer online invoicing tools and productivity trackers. They can help you keep track of employee working hours and time off.
6. Have a Virtual Assistant
A virtual assistant helps you delegate non-critical tasks and save time for important matters. These tasks can be related to human resources, task scheduling, or other organizational activities. Virtual Assistants can specialize in one specific area or take everything under their umbrella.
Whatever the case may be, they can prove to be invaluable in reducing your workload, leaving you to focus on the big picture.
7. Stay Connected
Working in a virtual office, while having its benefits, also poses a set of challenges. You need to be in touch with your team, know what they are up to, coordinate on urgent matters, and generally be on the same page. This can be difficult while working from multiple locations, and that is why effective communication is critical.
To remove any potential misunderstandings, you can use tools like Slack and Zoom for your virtual team. They allow you to be in touch with your employees constantly. You can also use productivity management tools to coordinate work across a team efficiently.
Virtual offices provide flexibility, adaptability, and scalability. All these factors are significant for an up-and-coming business and serve as a driver for growth. It is better to stay up to date with a virtual office's requirements and know which tools to use. You can rest easy and have complete confidence that your virtual office will be effective.