Why Virtual Offices with a Live Receptionist Are Relevant Moving Forward
Innovation During Pandemic Was a Competitive Differentiator
Every solopreneur and business face competitive pressures—and they have only gotten more extreme as a result of the pandemic. Those that focused on innovation during the pandemic likely saw returns. During the 2008-09 Great Recession, companies that prioritized breakthrough innovation outperformed peers by 10% during the recession and by 30% five years later. The long-term benefits of doubling down during an economic downturn is applicable for businesses of all sizes.
One would assume that lessons learned from nearly 15 years ago would have been heeded when the pandemic took hold. However, in a study it conducted, McKinsey found that one-third of executives slowed investments in innovation and turned to cost-cutting measures during the pandemic. What do you bet that many of them fall into the “outperformed peer” category during and after the pandemic?
Workplace Innovation: Competitive Differentiator
An area of innovation that some see as a competitive differentiator is the evolution of the workplace. Businesses that resisted virtually any work from home or remote scenarios for their workers before the pandemic found themselves in a situation where most—if not all—of their workforce was working from home offices. Many of their fears about workers shirking their responsibilities and workforce productivity decreasing were quickly deconstructed. Workers assumed greater responsibility, logging more hours than before the pandemic while increasing their productivity.
A recent study conducted by the University of Southampton found that productivity for nearly 9 out of 10 workers either stayed the same or improved during work from home. This coincides with other studies conducted during the pandemic. For example, a report in the Economist late last year found that those working from home logged an average of 30 minutes more per day as compared to before the pandemic.
Workforce Set on Workplace Flexibility
A recent study by the Wall Street Journal found that only a very small fraction of the workforce is willing to return to a work-from-office-only workplace environment. Workers want to throw away the old for something new, and the gap between what workers want their work lives to look like and what their bosses think is significant in some cases (e.g., Apple and its workers). Parents and adults who care for aging parents learned what workplace flexibility looks like during the pandemic, and they liked what they saw. The was true when workers examined quality-of-life and health issues.
The majority of businesses are opting for some form a remote workplace as they emerge from the pandemic. PwC, for example, announced last week that their workforce of 40,000 in the U.S. can work remote. Those that elect to mandate work from a permanent workspace eight hours a day, five days a week will experience a talent drain and diminished workforce productivity, in addition to finding it increasingly difficult to recruit top talent. This will be true in areas with a high cost of living such as New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Northern Virginia. Additionally, workspace is expensive, as much as 20,000 a year per worker in some of the highest cost areas of the country, and this capital expenditure also has a long-term impact on organizations.
Reasons to Use a Virtual Office and Virtual Receptionist
Countless articles, reports, and blog posts have been published containing strategies and tips on what organizations can do to optimize remote work. These proliferated during the past 18 months. Two areas of innovation that organizations need to explore are virtual offices and virtual (or live) receptionists. Solopreneurs and businesses were using them in growing numbers before the pandemic, and the numbers doing so have only increased since. There are a number of reasons to do so. Following are some of the more prevalent ones:
Make First Impressions Count
A professional business address is important for solopreneurs and businesses that want to make a great first impression. Listing a home address for your business can create a negative perception for new prospects or even existing customers. Having a virtual office address in a location, including a lobby listing, that garners respect can get a new client relationship off to a great start.
When You Cannot or Do Not Want to Use a Home Address
Using a home address can create legal and compliance issues. For some homeowners associations (HOA) and rental properties, listing a home address for a business may be prohibited. One alternative is to use a PO Box. But prospects and clients often want to see an actual physical address associated with a business. Plus, in the case of a registered limited liability company (LLC), an actual physical address must be included with the filing. A home address, if used, will be listed in public documents as the address of a company’s registered agent. A virtual office address is a great alternative and enables LLC companies to avoid publishing their home address or hiring an expensive third party as a registered agent.
Leverage Coworking Space and Rented Meeting Rooms
Virtual office solutions like those from Davinci Virtual Offices also come with coworking space and meeting room options that can be rented on demand by the hour, half-day, full day, or week. Many businesses are embracing hybrid workplace arrangements where workers spend one or two days in a coworking space collaborating and the remaining days a week working remotely. Paying for expensive permanent workspace doesn’t make sense, and businesses (and solopreneurs) are turning to on-demand workspace and meeting rooms like Davinci Meeting Rooms instead.
Get a Local Phone Number
For solopreneurs and businesses operating in multiple locations, a virtual office offers them the ability to secure a local number recognized by prospects and clients. Some virtual offices come with auto-receptionist services that include customizable greetings, voicemail management, web-based and mobile app management, among other features.
Live Call, Email, and Text Answering and Routing
Solopreneurs and professionals are busy and not always able to answer incoming calls, emails, and texts. Unfortunately, prospects and customers want to engage with someone live in their first attempt and being made to wait minutes, hours, or even days for a response can be deleterious. Customer satisfaction and loyalty rates plummet and customers go elsewhere with their business. Virtual (or live) receptionists such as Davinci Live Receptionists enable solopreneurs and professionals to answer incoming calls, emails, and texts. They also are able to route calls, emails, and texts to the appropriate member of the team in instances where they unable to provide the answer.
Virtual receptionists can process orders—taking payment and ensuring physical shipment in instances where a physical product needs to be mailed. These can be fielded over the phone, email, text, and even live web chat. Solopreneurs and businesses can focus on their business rather than worrying about administrative order-processing tasks.
Manage Scheduling and Outbound Calls and Emails
For solopreneurs and small businesses, projects and tasks often don’t require permanent headcount. A marketing outreach campaign, sales program, fundraising initiative, and simple scheduling activities can sap valuable time. Virtual receptionists offer a great on-demand option. They can manage calendars and schedule appointments as well as oversee outbound emails, texts, and phone calls. This affords a business flexibility and a predictable cost that is dramatically less than hiring a permanent (whether part or full time).
Oversee Administrative Tasks
Virtual receptionists can assume responsibility for administrative tasks typically overseen by an office administrator. But for solopreneurs and small businesses, it doesn’t make sense to hire a permanent administrator. On-demand administrative assistance from virtual receptionists provide the scale and flexibility—at a predictable rate—required by a solopreneur or small business.
Explore Your Virtual Office and Receptionist Options
Remote work is here to stay. Reversing the clock to pre-COVID workplace environments simply won’t happen. The genie is out of the bottle.
Over the past 18 months, solopreneurs and organizations have tapped new technologies and tuned the workflows and processes they use to work remotely. Virtual offices and virtual receptionists are resources they need to explore, assuming they haven’t already done so. They can help improve productivity, reduce cost, and even create business opportunities. Not every virtual office and virtual receptionist offering is the same. It is important to evaluate each offering to determine if they meet your business requirements.