For many entrepreneurs and startups, working from your home office is just the way you get business done. But virtual offices are quickly becoming a viable alternative; with locations becoming more widespread, and offering many of the benefits of a physical office space without the high price tag, entrepreneurs are transitioning to them in droves. A virtual office may not be for everyone, however, so here are some of the the pros and cons of a virtual office vs. home office, and why a virtual office is usually the smarter choice.
What is a Virtual Office?
With the rise of telecommuting and work-from-home jobs, practically everyone now is familiar with the home office. It’s a fairly simple concept: rather than driving into the office to work with the team, you dedicate a part of your home to your professional life, and you connect with your team via email, instant messaging, video calls, and so on.
A virtual office is the best of both worlds. It offers you the freedom to use office space without being tethered to it. In a traditional office, you’re paying for everything—the lease, the power bill, the heating, the internet, the phone and fax lines, the furniture. Meanwhile, working in a home office lacks a certain feeling of legitimacy, and customers can’t visit you at your place of business, or send you mail very easily.
With a virtual office, you get access to offices that are furnished with desks, chairs, internet, office equipment, or fully serviced meeting rooms and most importantly - a physical address that can receive mail and that you can use as your location of business. The space is rented out on an “as needed” basis—to small businesses, entrepreneurs, consultants, and anyone else who don’t need a full-time, dedicated office space.
Renters only pay for what they use; office space can often be rented in increments as small as an hour, and as large as a month. They rent conference rooms when they need a larger meeting space. They use the internet provided by the virtual office. They have a secure location for mail to be delivered, and a unique address they can put on business cards that helps them apply for professional licenses and get listed on business directories. Many virtual offices even have live receptionists (should be “lobby greeters” or “reception staff”) who can greet clients, take calls, and forward communications on to the renter’s cell phone.
With a virtual office, you don’t have to use permanent office space if you don’t need to, and you don’t pay for what you don’t use. Work from home, or anywhere in the world, and only come to the office location when you really need to. Let the receptionist field calls for you, and either take messages or forward the calls on to you. For businesses or telecommuters who need a physical address, but don’t need to use it everyday, it can be the perfect solution.
In fact, people working remotely is on the rise, and they’re working from home for longer periods of time—a 2017 Gallup survey revealed that 31% of remote workers work out of the office for 3-4 days a week. The survey also found that this group of people (those who were only in the office 1 or 2 days out of the week, as opposed to in the office all week or working completely remotely) reported the highest rates of engagement with their jobs. According to Gallup, the “sweet spot” is when employees do most of their work remotely, and come into the office only once or twice a week.
The Pros & Cons of Virtual Offices
Now let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using a virtual office, then compare it to using a home office.
Virtual Office Pros
• Virtual business address: virtual offices offer you the physical address you need to legitimize your business, secure licenses and registration for professional organizations, and put yourself in business listings.
• Prestige: virtual offices are frequently located in upscale areas, meaning you don’t have to feel embarrassed about having a rundown office in a sketchy neighborhood, or about inviting clients to your home address.
• Virtual Mailing Address: virtual offices offer you a professional, safe location for mail and parcels to be dropped off and signed for; for forms and documents, mail can even be scanned and uploaded to the cloud by the live receptionist, making them accessible no matter where you are when it arrives.
• Office space on-demand: access to work and meeting space on-demand—fully equipped and serviced, professional workspace that you only pay for when you use it, not when you don’t.
• Virtual assistant: some virtual office services come with a virtual assistant; it’s like having a receptionist who works just for you, managing calls and day-to-day tasks, all without having to hire someone or provide them office space.
• Market presence: virtual offices can help you establish a foothold in new markets, giving you a local address and phone number, without having to buy or rent a physical location full-time.
• Use as much as you need: your needs for physical space may expand and contract over time, and a virtual office is perfect for that; use as much as you need, for as long as you need it, and scale up or down as the situation requires—all while only paying for what you use.
• Easy set-up: you don’t have to remodel a space, buy furniture, or set up utilities—all of that is taken care of for you.
• Less expensive: using a virtual office means no long-term lease, no expensive overhead, no oversized rent bill—you only pay a usage fee for the space you need.
Virtual Office Cons
• More expensive than a home office, but still much more affordable than leasing or buying office space.
• Some businesses have to have a dedicated space, like auto repair shops, medical clinics, and larger companies.
• Not every business needs office space outside the home; some are 100% virtual, and never deal with clients or customers directly.
The Pros & Cons of Home Offices
Working entirely from a home office has its own benefits and drawbacks. Here are a few of the pros and cons of setting up shop in your living room or garage.
Home Office Pros
• Low cost: you’re already paying for the place.
• Schedule flexibility: you don’t have to compete with anyone for available space.
• No commute.
• No shirt, no shoes, no problem.
• The comforts of home.
• It’s your space, you can do what you want with it.
• Ability to collaborate virtually with partners, freelancers, clients, employees, etc.
Home Office Cons
• Can cause distractions (family, pets, TV, the list goes on).
• Unprofessional in many circumstances.
• No private life/professional life segregation.
• Unsafe—in some circumstances—to give out your office address.
• Harder to get business listings, licensing, etc.
• Limited space to grow.
Questions to Ask Yourself
As you consider the pros and cons of using virtual office space or sticking with a home office, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
• Is staying in your home office part of your long-term plan?
• Do you need to rent out office space to conduct business in any way?
• How often do I need to have access to professional office space to entertain clients or present to investors?
• Do I prefer to keep my professional life separate from my personal life?
• Is there enough room at your home office to facilitate growth?
• What are your competitors doing?
• Are the services you offer 100% “virtual?” Or do they require at least some use of office space?
For most, the benefits of meeting and workspace on-demand that is equipped for the purpose and the amenities of a virtual office make it a clear choice—it’s time to grow out of your home office.
If you think a virtual office might be a perfect fit for your business, and you want to learn more about how it works, visit Davinci Virtual Office Solutions. We have 1,500 virtual office locations and 5,000 on-demand meeting and workspaces around the globe, conveniently located to meet your needs.
Contact us today, and start the process of advancing your business to the next level.