The New Virtual Office Market: Trends, Stats, and Needs

By Martin Senn, COO, Davinci Virtual Office Solutions

Today’s companies and entrepreneurs are finding that a virtual office is the right solution for the work environments of the twenty-first century. Firms of all sizes are discovering that a virtual office setup is the ideal solution for them, offering cost-savings as well as flexibility and increased productivity. A large number of business trend analysts agree that the virtual office phenomenon is worldwide, here to stay, and that the virtual office trend will grow aggressively over the next few years.

The office business center industry is obviously well positioned to deliver an array of virtual products and services. Many operators have focused on the virtual office market for quite a few years and are driving significant revenues, but more importantly – significant margins to their bottom lines.

Additionally, office brokers are producing an increasing number of virtual office leads and specialized global virtual office companies have established themselves as viable channels and service providers.

According to the 2008 OBCAI financial study, virtual revenues represented an average of almost 7% of total revenues for highly profitable office business centers in the US. At some centers, virtual revenues even exceeded 10% of overall revenues without creating much additional overhead for the operation.  The study also showed a 7% increase in virtual revenues in 2008 compared to 2007 and identified virtual office revenues as one of the main factors that differentiate a high profit OBC (average 34% profit margin) from a middle profit OBC (average 11% profit margin). So statistically speaking, every OBC operator should embrace the virtual office business - yesterday!

As the landscape for virtual office services becomes more competitive, proactive operators will have a unique opportunity to gain additional market share by adjusting their advertising and marketing strategies for this growing market. Based on statistical data, centers will also attract more virtual office clients by offering cutting edge technologies and facilities.

Davinci Virtual Office Solutions conducted an internal survey of their virtual office clients that revealed some interesting trends and specific needs related to this increasingly popular work environment.

Virtual Work Trend: More Flexible Work Schedules        
Client Need: Extended Hours Accessibility to Facilities and Communications

Virtual Work Trend: More Flexible Work Spaces        
Client Need: Hot desks, Day Offices, Virtual Cafes, Conference Rooms

Virtual Work Trend: Very Mobile Workday              
Client Need: Location, Parking, Public Transportation, Easy Access

Virtual Work Trend: Very Time Sensitive                
Client Need: Instant Access to Services, Shorter Reservation Intervals

Virtual Work Trend: Virtual Meetings                 
Client Need: Video Conferencing, Conference Calling, Collaboration

Virtual Work Trend: Heavy Use of Internet, Email, Chat              
Client Need: Secure, Wireless Internet Access

Virtual Work Trend: Larger Bandwidth Needs                  
Client Need: Affordable, Fast Connections, “Pay as you Go” or Free

Virtual Work Trend: Use of Laptops, Next Gen Devices            
Client Need: Wireless or Easy Connection to High-End Presentation Devices

Virtual Work Trend: Work Digitally / Electronically        
Client Need: Mail Scanning, Document Scanning, Storage Media Supply

Virtual Work Trend: Use of Digital Calendars Only            
Client Need: Online Reservations for Meeting Space, Email confirmations

Virtual Work Trend: Use of Credit Card Only               
Client Need: Onsite Credit Card processing, Instant Billing

The study also compiled the top 10 US industries that are currently using virtual office solutions and it identified the top 10 markets for virtual office locations in the United States.

Top 10 Industries:
Real Estate / Brokers                     
Marketing & Advertising             
Retail, Online Merchants             

Top 10 US Cities:                             
New York
Los Angeles, Beverly Hills
Las Vegas
Wilmington, DE
Washington, DC

Based on the rapid adoption rate of this new work trend, almost every business center operator should be able to attract a solid base of virtual office clients within their local market. However, there are some approaches that may position a center location to grab market share quicker and at a lower cost.

Virtual office clients tend to be internet savvy and they work predominantly online. They are very mobile, communicate electronically and they many of them belong to virtual and physical networking groups.  It is important to know your potential client’s behavior so you can deploy a targeted advertising and marketing approach.

Today’s Internet marketplace provides so many great tools and options to position our offerings in a visible, measurable and cost effective way. A successful web marketing approach for virtual office services should include the following components:

A dedicated Website, Page or Section that clearly highlights your Virtual Office Offerings
Compliant Search Engine Optimization based on latest Standards (remember - organic traffic is king!)
Updated listings in applicable Local Search and Map Directories, Social Media
Targeted Pay-Per-Click Advertising
Website Reporting and Analytics Tools (please analyze your data frequently)

Now that you are getting qualified web traffic, please ensure proper lead and data management. Many successful operations are using tailored CRM systems, allowing them to track lead data accurately while ensuring effective communication and conversion. Combine your web marketing with a diligent follow up campaign that is using a proactive, personalized mix of phone calls, emails, social media (include special offers).

But please do not just focus on your internal approach! Research your competition and take advantage of your outside channels for leads and deals – ensure that you communicate regularly with your brokers and virtual office companies. Inform them about your current promotions or any changes that you are making at your locations – the more accurate information they have, the better they can sell your center!