Davinci Virtual Blog



Mobile Workforce Meets Virtual Office Space

IRVINE, CA—In case you were wondering just how popular virtual offices really are, the Global Workspace Association has some new stats that offer keen insights.

According to the Global Workspace Association, virtual office revenue in 2011 increased by 8.2 percent year over year. Virtual offices also accounted for 9.5 percent of U.S. office business centers' total revenues. Meanwhile, meeting rooms also grew in popularity in 2011. Meeting rooms revenue rose 10.5 percent year over year.

"Today's workforce is increasingly independent and mobile, and companies continue to pursue cost-containing office arrangements that improve their bottom line," says John Jordan, Global Workspace Association president. "We are entering a new era in which convenience and savings are no longer opposing forces. With a few clicks, the virtual office—complete with a receptionist, physical street address, meeting-room availability and other amenities—is available when and where needed."

It’s not just the Global Workspace Association data that bodes well for virtual offices, either. IDC and Cisco are pushing out numbers that offer clues into why virtual offices are gaining so much momentum.

First, the IDC numbers. The world's mobile worker population will total more than 1.3 billion, more than 37 percent of the total workforce, IDC reports. In the Americas alone, the number of mobile workers is expected to grow to more than 212 million, up from 182.5 million in 2010.

However, the Asia/Pacific region will see the largest increase. The mobile workforce in that region will grow from 601.7 million in 2010 to 838.7 million in 2015. As for the Cisco data, the networking giant predicts that from 2011 to 2016 global mobile data traffic will grow three times faster than fixed IP traffic.

The mobile workforce and virtual offices are colliding. Not every virtual office worker is mobile but every mobile worker spends at least part of their time working virtually. The virtual office could be on the home front or in a day office in a business center. Either way, the Global Workspace Association’s numbers don’t lie. Business centers—and the virtual offices and meeting rooms within them—are seeing more revenues with the rise of alternative workplace strategies.

Social Media Helps Virtual Office Workers Connect With Colleagues

TORONTO—Do you see social media as as a way to build camaraderie with colleagues in the workplace? Forty-four percent of Randstad Canada’s survey participants do. When you work from a virtual office, social media can really help you connect the dotes.

Stacy Parker, executive vice president of Marketing at Randstad Canada, says social media and other initiatives have opened up a whole new world of social interaction.

“Team-building activities, open and common spaces, along with new communication channels like Intranets and social media play a big role in fostering communication and building relationships inside and outside work,” she says.

“It's clear that employees in Canada and around the world are taking advantage of these tools and opportunities to foster positive relationships and create the kind of work atmosphere that they enjoy working in.”

As Parker sees it, workplace friendships can be a good thing for a company's overall business. That includes virtual office friendships in my book. Social media can definitely help you get to know your fellow virtual office workers because you get to see their lighter side, even potentially some of their family life.

"There is no denying that workplace friendships can contribute to a positive workplace culture. It means increased productivity and creativity, heightened morale, enhanced personal performance and stronger team cohesiveness," Parker explains. "Employers who encourage a positive and collaborative workplace will gain a competitive edge when it comes to recruting top talent."

If you work in a virtual office, I think you should tap into social media channels. With Facebook and Google+, you can even segment your posts by who you want to see it. You could allow your virtual office friends to see more general posts and reserve more private issues for closer friends and family. I think building virtual office teamwork and social media sort of go hand to hand in the digital age.

Can You Make Virtual Office Friends at Work?

TORONTO—Making friends at work is very important to Canadians and could be a key factor to workplace happiness. So the question is, can you make friends from a virtual office?

According to the survey, 66 percent of Canadian employees say they have close friendships with colleagues. What’s more, 54 percent report that having pleasant colleagues is more important to them than having a good salary while 53 percent say they spend time with colleagues outside working hours. How does this apply to the virtual office workplace?

Stacy Parker, executive vice president of Marketing at Randstad Canada reinforces the fact that workers tend to be happier at their jobs when they cultivate meaningful friendships with co-workers.

"Canadians associate a good working environment with having good relationships with their colleagues,” she says. “They see these relationships not as a threat to their productivity, but rather as a key factor that influences their satisfaction at work.”

Of course, not everyone is looking for new friends, not even in a virtual office setting. Twenty-one percent of Canadian employees believe friendships with colleagues interfere with their work. That’s nearly a quarter of folks who, whether they work from a virtual office or not, prefer not to socialize.

So to answer the question, yes, you can make friends with coworkers even if you work from a virtual office. In fact, I’m living proof that you can make friends from a virtual office. I've worked from a virtual office for more than 20 years and have built many friendships over the years with coworkers who worked in other parts of the country from virtual offices or traditional offices of their own. One of my best friendships ever was developed through a virtual office relationship.

Of course, if you are among the minority who feel that friendships interfere with work, then you can certainly avoid them more easily through virtual office work.

Virtual Offices Help Drive More Women to Workforce

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA—Until companies get with the flexible work program, women will remain underrepresented among corporate and business leaders. So say the authors of a green paper from the Australian Institute of Management (AIM). It’s one more piece of evidence of the need for virtual offices.

According to the paper, flexible arrangements, which cover when, where and how women work, are integral to improving opportunities for them to advance through the leadership pipeline. And we know that virtual offices are part and parcel of flexible work arrangements.

“A major challenge to flexible work is workplace attitudes that see it as a curiosity, privilege, a nuisance or as an unnecessary cost,” says Dr. Robyn Clough, AIM’s manager of Public Policy and Thought Leadership.

As Clough sees it, too many managers believe the ideal workplace leader is someone who is able to work full time and is solely committed to their job because they are supported by someone outside of the workplace who attends to their non-work needs. Such a worker, she says, may have been the norm in the past, but this is no longer the case.”

“Work is no longer neatly contained within set hours,” she adds. “Workers have a multiplicity of non-work responsibilities and interests which they seek to balance against their work roles.”

The papers says that giving employees greater control over when, how and where they work results in “better human capital outcomes” which converts to “enhanced business outcomes” through improved productivity, finance performance and client satisfaction.

Professor Marian Baird from the Women and Work Research Group says childcare and elder care responsibilities drive many requests for flexible work arrangements, but women may also wish to study or reduce commuting time. This is one of the many benefits of virtual offices.

“Women are attracted to and remain in work that offers flexibility and recognizes their input at work,” says Baird. “They are more satisfied and more engaged in their work and that’s good for business.”

The paper calls for flexible work options to be “mainstreamed” within a framework that recognizes the business benefits of a flexible workplace which embraces the opportunities that the 21st century digital environment offers.

“Equipping managers with the necessary skills and providing them with guidance and resources so they can effectively apply those skills in a flexible work environment is an important step towards mainstreaming flexible work in Australian workplaces,” concludes Baird.

Working Mothers Get New Virtual Office Jobs Resource

BOULDER, CO—What do you get when you combine Working Mother Media and FlexJobs? More opportunities for moms to work from virtual office space.

Working Mother Media and FlexJobs just teamed up to offer professional job listings that offer flexible work options to its mommy audience. Working Mother magazine reaches over 2 million readers and is the only national magazine for career-committed mothers.

Here’s how it works: Workingmother.com users can access a Working Mother-branded site featuring FlexJobs listings. Yes, it’s just that easy.

“We are honored to partner with Working Mother on the important and widespread need for legitimate, professional flexible job opportunities,” says Sara Sutton Fell, founder and CEO of FlexJobs.

“I started FlexJobs to provide a trusted job resource for women like me, who want to continue being productive in their career while also having the flexibility to be more present for their family. Once having a baby, many women want to maintain their career while having more time to spend with their family.”

This is a potential breakthrough for mothers looking for virtual office work. That’s because FlexJobs offers the largest database of hand-screened job listings with flexible work options such as telecommuting, freelance, part-time, virtual office or alternative schedules. Jobs range from entry-level to executive, temporary to full-time, in over 50 career categories, and across the country.

“Working mothers come to our site for advice, support and information that serve their busy lives,” says Jennifer Owens, editorial director at Working Mother Media. "Now for the first time, they will be able to access jobs that will enhance work family life. FlexJobs’ reputation in the marketplace of providing vetted, high quality positions for women is a valuable opportunity for our audience.”