The concept of a permanent office space is something to which many solopreneurs and small businesses understood to be a critical component to their business. And while that may be true for some, it is no longer a valid requisite for many. The explosion of mobile devices, smart apps, and cloud services make it possible to work from virtually anywhere and at any time.
For solopreneurs and small businesses that are just launching, you may want to think twice before signing an expensive lease that locks you into a fixed location. In the case of startups that erroneously secured a permanent office space, you may want to start planning your exit strategy. Virtual office space offers most startups a more compelling office strategy than the permanent leased office space. So, why is a virtual office better? What advantages does it afford a startup?
1. Lower Cost.
Startups can spend upwards of 10% of their total budgets on office space. Your lease is just the start of the costs. You also must cover high-speed Internet, security, janitorial services, a receptionist, utilities … the list can go on and on. In the case of a virtual office, you pay for shared, on-demand office space (pay for when you need it), and you don’t need to pay for these extra expenses.
2. Great Address.
Few startups can afford permanent office space that comes with a professional address in a great location. The age-old adage, “location, location, location” extends far beyond a person’s private residence; it also applies to your office address that is closely tethered to your brand. Setting up your virtual address should be relatively easy, since virtual address services come with most virtual office solutions (or are an additional option in the case of Davinci Virtual Office Addresses and Davinci Meeting Rooms).
3. Office Greeter/Receptionist.
Hiring a full-time receptionist and office greeter is beyond the realm of possibilities for many startups. This means employees take turns juggling incoming calls and handling visitors, answering their questions, routing them to the right person within your organization, and more. This not only consumes valuable time, but these are disruptive, diminishing worker productivity. In the case of virtual offices, they come with a lobby greeter who serves as the interface for visitors. And for startups that require more than a lobby greeter, you may want to look to live receptionist services such as Davinci Live Receptionists. These on-demand live receptionist services cost a fraction of a full-time employee while making your business look and act much larger than it is.
4. Peer Startup Business Interactions.
On-demand office space—particularly coworking—affords you with a chance to network with other startups. In addition to sharing ideas and innovating, startups may find there are substantial business synergies that add value to both parties—from customer referrals to partnerships.
5. Professional Office Space.
With on-demand virtual office solutions, startups have access to highly professional office space—from day offices, to coworking space, to rented conference rooms—that comes with everything you need such as wireless internet, presentation and audio technology, food and beverage catering, and much more.
6. Attracting and Retaining Talent.
Many workers prefer flexibility when it comes to where they work. Few professionals abide by the 9-to-5 workday, and flexibility around time in the office and work ranks high on the list of priorities for many workers. Many will take a lower paying job over one with higher pay in exchange for a more flexible work model. Note: Ironically, remote coworkers were cited two-thirds of the time by employees as their favorite coworkers in a recent study.
Leases and permanent offices lock startups into contractual agreements and a finite office space. As often occurs with startups, scaling up and down isn’t an option; fixed office space results in a fixed cost and office configuration. On the one hand, as is too often the case, startups pay for unused office space. On the other hand, they also have fixed space constraints that will only scale to the boundaries of the four surrounding walls.
8. Results, Not Time in Office.
Businesses are tempted to measure performance based on time spent in the office when they maintain a permanent office environment. In those situations, some businesses may require workers to come to the office every day and to work from 9 to 5. This myopic approach kills worker productivity while obfuscating meaningful business results. (Reminds me of a Silicon Valley company that implemented a daily 9-to-5 mandatory work policy for its technology workers. They literally took “roll” every morning at 9 and every evening at 5 to confirm that their employees were at their desks working at the beginning and end of their workday. Not surprisingly, the company has huge issues when it comes to worker productivity, recruitment, and retention.)
9. Better Meetings.
Internal and external meetings have different requirements, and a one-size-fits-all meeting room doesn’t always suffice. Virtual meeting rooms come with the technologies such as web conferencing and whiteboards and business services such as catering and administrative support that can be the difference between a highly productive meeting and one that was a waste of time.
10. Easier, Faster Expansion.
When startups expand into new regions, locating and securing a permanent office space and address should be one of the last things on the mind of the business leaders. Rather, with virtual offices, startups can secure a local address and on-demand office space—including meeting rooms—quickly and easily.
11. Work-Life Balance.
Depending on where a startup is located, its employees can spend hours each day in their cars and riding trains and buses to and from the physical office location. In addition to impacting the work-life balance of each employee, which reduces their productivity and their job-hopping tendencies, a mandatory work-from-the-office policy impacts the communities in which startups are based—from environmental factors such as more pollution, to unhealthier workers who lack the time to exercise and detach themselves from work, to social issues such as traffic congestion.
Virtual offices are a true paradigm change when it comes to workspace and workstyle. Digital technologies such as mobile devices, smart apps, and cloud services make this transformation possible. For startups that embrace virtual offices, the future holds promise. For those that remain attached to the past and refuse to understand the value proposition virtual offices offer, success may be increasingly difficult to achieve.