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How virtual offices can help small businesses during the pandemic

When the COVID-19 crisis hit, all industries were affected. However, small businesses across the globe took a significant hit.

1 Sep 2021
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A staggering 34% of America’s small companies were forced to close because of the pandemic. As some of the most vulnerable organisations, with less capital and reach than other larger corporations, small businesses had to enter survival mode, grasping at whatever resources they could to ride out the pandemic. 

 

Over the past year and a half, the pandemic has resulted in flexible working becoming the norm; businesses have realised it’s possible to operate efficiently even if you include remote working as part of your working arrangement. It is, therefore, no surprise that the global virtual office market is expected to grow from $27 billion in 2020 to $32.9 billion in 2021.

 

Below are some of the reasons to consider virtual offices:

 

Virtual offices offer some of the same benefits as a typical office except for the actual four walls.

What are virtual offices?

 

You may wonder, so how does this work? How is a virtual office still an office? Well, virtual offices offer some of the same benefits as a typical office, except for the actual physical four walls. For example, they give businesses a physical address as any business can list its address using the virtual office’s location by paying a small service fee. Having a business address comes in very handy, especially in countries where it is required by law as part of incorporating a company. With a virtual office, employees can work anywhere, embracing the flexible working arrangements that have been introduced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

On top of a business address, virtual offices also offer a range of other services which are usually sold as a package and may include operations assistance such as mailing address, telephone forwarding, mail forwarding, and physical usage of conference rooms for client meetings.

 

How do virtual offices work?

 

In practice, a virtual office has a physical mailing address but does not exist as an office space with a private room, tables, and chairs in the traditional sense (i.e., it is an office on paper only). It is a combination of remote office services that are usually provided by business centres, flexible office providers, and coworking centres. 

 

When businesses or entrepreneurs opt for a virtual office, their entire company will be working as part of a remote setup. Employees and teams coordinate work with zero physical contact but are equipped with laptops, phones, the internet, and basic office supplies. 

 

What are the benefits of virtual offices?

 

A major advantage of the virtual office is the credibility a central district address promotes to clients, partners and customers – existing or potential. Small businesses get to enjoy the advantages of being registered at a good location in the city, often nearby larger corporations but without having to pay all the expenses of leasing a physical office. 

 

The pandemic has fast-tracked the shift to remote and flexible working arrangements, allowing employees to choose where they would like to work. Businesses are continuing to adapt to this new working model, which offers good work-life balance and adheres to government guidelines on working from home in a bid to reduce virus spread. For some companies, working from home will remain an option in the post-pandemic world. According to several studies over the past year, productivity while working remotely is sometimes higher than working in a traditional office. It was reported that on average those who work from home spend 10 minutes less per day being unproductive, work one more day each week, and are 47% more productive. With working from home remaining a popular option for many employees across the world, as a result of the pandemic, companies can save money by reducing the time and costs of being in a physical office – helping firms to persist through the pandemic.

 

Today, plenty of options are available that can be packaged together with a virtual office service. Businesses have the freedom and flexibility to pick and choose the services they require – tailored to their unique needs – as well as a specific lease plan that works for them. These packages help small businesses control their budgets and reduce overheads while enjoying access to essential operational assistance. 

 

 

A good virtual office provider will take a consultative approach and find the best package to suit your needs.

Companies need to identify the right virtual office provider to cater to their requirements. Some providers only offer a limited choice of packages while others may shock with hidden additional costs. The best approach is to find one that will take the time to understand your business needs and craft an appropriate package with transparent and affordable costings that are still personalised for you.

 

Caveats of virtual offices

 

We’ve seen that virtual offices provide a range of advantages for small businesses. However, there are certain limitations businesses will have to accept should they choose to forfeit a physical workspace. 

 

Operating remotely and engaging a virtual office instead of a flexible workplace, coworking space or serviced office entails giving up advantages of a physical workplace. A physical office allows small businesses the opportunity to expand their network with fellow members in the coworking community. Moreover, working in an office space allows for better rapport within the company amongst colleagues and can sometimes be preferable for internal collaboration. At the office, the workspace is designed to reduce distractions and optimise employee focus while also offering benefits such as complimentary coffee and other refreshments.

 

Still, it is possible to enjoy the best of both worlds. When the pandemic restrictions ease, businesses can consider exploring a hybrid mode of working. By opting for a hybrid model with a mixture of remote working and working from the office, professionals can enjoy the flexibility to choose or mix and match both. Adopting a hybrid work style may also help businesses retain employees and increase productivity post-pandemic, as work-life balance and taking care of non-work-related personal responsibilities can sometimes be more easily achieved outside the office.

 

How to choose the right virtual office plan

 

Ultimately, the right plan is dependent on the individual company and employee needs – but achieving the best results requires businesses to correctly identify the functions and features they consider essential. 

 

Opting for a flexible plan may be the best choice for some businesses and there are plenty of workspace providers today that offer a variety of plans to cater to evolving needs at each stage of a company’s growth.

 

It would likely be advantageous for smaller businesses to leverage virtual offices as a way to ease their financial burdens. Virtual offices offer a low-cost alternative to traditional workplaces while still providing some of the most essential services – and ensuring business credibility of a good address – without the higher monthly lease of a physical office. 

 

Looking for virtual office solutions? Check out our packages here.