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Are You Making Major Mistakes With Your Virtual Office Workers?


Virtual Offices Help Spur Small Business Growth

IRVINE—Virtual offices, along with other on-demand workspace facilities, are the cool kids on the office space block. Small business owners are leveraging alternative workplace strategies to speed up growth plans.

"Increased market awareness and evolving business models are driving high demand for virtual office services," says Martin Senn, COO of Davinci Virtual Office Solutions, a global provider of virtual offices and meeting space. "New sign-ups grew more than 50 percent in 2011, and the first quarter of 2012 suggests comparable growth going forward."

Confidence in the economy may be slowly recovering, but it’s still at its near-historic lows, according to the Small-Business Optimism Index produced by the National Federation of Independent Businesses. The good news: the report reveals that innovative entrepreneurs believe that now is a great time to expand and gain market share.

This mix of economic sentiments and the need for truly flexible work environments are fueling the growth in the alternative workspace or so-called workspace-as-a-service industry, which has seen occupancy levels improve, according to the Global Workspace Association (GWA). The GWA represents hundreds of business-center operators and alternative workspace providers globally.

"Technology advancements, the omnipresence of the online market place and mobility over the past decade have permanently altered the way small businesses operate," says John Jordan, president of the GWA. "Evolving workforce and meeting-place considerations driven by the need for agility and financial flexibility are steering more small-business owners away from long-term fixed costs for office space and operational infrastructure."

GWA members reported strong growth in virtual office services and meeting space reservations, which have particular appeal to mobile and cost-conscious small-business owners requiring physical business addresses, phone and mail services, and on-demand office and meeting-room space. Based on the GWA's most recent survey, year-over-year virtual-office revenue increased by 13.8 percent as a category. Meeting room and day room revenues nearly doubled in the same period.

Every Career Challenge Is Tough. Can Virtual Offices Make it Easier?

LOS ANGELES-Are you facing a challenge in your career that seems insurmountable? Are you unsure how to handle it? Do you wish that overcoming your challenge was easier? Even if you work in a virtual office—away from the office politics and distractions—you are still bound to face career challenges.

“Many people I speak to are struggling in their career and my heart goes out to them. I know they want more and want things to be different. Is there a magic pill that will save them? No. Is there a way out? Yes,” says Deborah Brown-Volkman, president of Surpass Your Dreams. “It's called hard work. But hard work is called hard for a reason. It means career transformation is not going to be easy. The good news is hard work will provide real results.”

So how can an alone but never isolated virtual office worker begin? Brown-Volkman suggests putting one foot in front of the other. Here are four steps for virtual office workers in need of some advice.

1. Expect To Be Uncomfortable
You might be comfortable working from your virtual office space, but you have to expect to be uncomfortable if you are going to reach for your goals. Brown-Volkman says discomfort means you are being challenged and are growing.

2. Embrace Your Challenge
Yes, you’ll face challenges even from your virtual office. Brown-Volkman says the pain your challenge produces tells you that something is not working. Facing what needs to be faced will bring you relief and freedom. Running will not.

3. Be Open
Are you attached to what happens next? Since you are working from a virtual office, chances are you are more flexible than most. Brown-Volkman says sometimes you have to let go of the ending.

4. Remember That Things Get Easier Over Time
What knocks you off your feet in the beginning becomes more manageable as you go through the process, Brown-Volkman says. Get ready to find a new groove and a new routine.

Virtual offices are a good option for people in career transition. Maybe you are a bootstrapping entrepreneur or a fledgling small business owner. A virtual office can take some of the pressure off your transition. Embrace them.

Virtual Offices Help Career-Minded Women Balance Family Life

NEW YORK--Young women now surpass young men in the importance they put on having a high-paying career, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center. On the other hand, marriage and parenthood also rank high on the list of priorities.

“For both men and women, being a good parent and having a successful marriage remain much more important than career success,” Pew writes in its report. Telecommuting at least part time from a virtual office can help women—and men—have the best of both worlds.

According to the Pew report, women in today’s workforce who do marry and have children are not necessarily leaving their careers to follow their familial dreams. Indeed, the modern woman often balances her career with her husband and children. Nearly half (48%) of married couples in 2010 consisted of two breadwinners. The share of dual-employed couples was slightly higher in 1997 (53%). Back in 1975, however, the share of families with both a husband and wife in the labor force was only 34%. In recent years, virtual offices have empowered more people and age groups to enter or reenter the workforce.

Generally, Pew reports, the public supports more active roles for women in the workplace. A September 2011 Pew Research poll found that 73% of Americans feel that the trend toward more women in the workforce has been a change for the better in our society. What’s more, an October 2010 Pew Research poll found 62% of the general public feels that a marriage where the husband and wife share the responsibilities of work and children is more satisfying than a more traditional marriage with a male breadwinner.

However, Pew adds, the public remains conflicted about the impact these changes have had on young children. When asked whether the trend toward more mothers of young children working outside the home is a good thing or a bad thing for society, only 21 percent of Americans said it is a good thing. Some 37 percent said this is a bad thing for society, and roughly the same share (38%) said it hasn’t made a difference.

Virtual offices are no panacea for good parenting. But virtual office space can promote stronger work-life balance, as well as concepts like workshifting and Results Only Work Environments that leave more room for parenting. Virtual offices allow parents to be home in the morning to drive the kids to school, crank up the productivity during the day while the children are gone by eliminating the distractions that often go along with a traditional office space, and be there to pick the kids up after school and make them a snack. Virtual offices also allow parents to be home for kids when they are sick, run to recitals and PTA meetings during the day and other parental activities.

Again, virtual offices aren’t the end-all answer to work-life balance and good parenting. But virtual offices are certainly a tool in the hands of a strong parent with a balanced life.

Could Virtual Offices Stem the Tide of Job Changers?