5 Virtual Office Myths We are Busting Right Now

busting virtual office mythsVirtual offices have exploded in popularity over the past few years, with more and more buildings and companies offering executive suites, virtual assistants, and other amenities that compliment virtual offices. This means companies are offering different things, or are trying to label their services as virtual offices or virtual office services to jump on the bandwagon.  Here are five virtual office myths that we are busting right now:

Virtual Offices aren’t Professional

Virtual offices are much more professional than coffee shops and home offices, and can be used in conjunction with either of those options (if you wish). They are perfect for client meetings and can serve as a business address. There may be virtual offices in locations that are less than ideal, or will have decor and furniture that could use updating, but that’s simply not the case for all virtual offices.

Virtual Offices aren’t Reliable

Virtual offices are only going to be as reliable and you make them out to be. Some may think they aren’t reliable because they won’t have everything you need to do your work, or might not have the hours that you want. This is simply not the case as virtual office companies are expanding their services and are working to customize their offerings to their customers. It’s just a matter of asking for what you want/need, or finding a provider who has it. With the improvements in technology over the past several years, virtual offices are more reliable than ever simply because their services and their offerings have gotten better with time.

Virtual Offices are Too Expensive

A virtual office could be too expensive for a solopreneur who’s just getting started, or for a company who didn’t take the time to do the research and to find the right vendor. However, virtual offices are affordable in comparison with a traditional office option. Also, you probably already have the necessary tools to do your work, such as a computer and a phone, so you don’t have to worry about paying extra to have these tools set up in your office. Not to mention, you could save money in other ways, such as transportation and food costs.

I Can’t be Productive in a Virtual Office

If you need someone to help you stay focused on your work or to provide you structure during the day, then a virtual office may not be a good fit for you. Having a virtual office work relies on self-discipline and the ability to get things done without someone watching. If you think, or you know, you can do that then you shouldn’t have any problems working in a virtual office.

A Virtual Office will Hurt My Career

Those working with a company who want a virtual office may worry that it would hurt them in the eyes of the boss i.e. getting passed up for raises/promotions, creating more work for the boss, making coworkers jealous. However, since virtual offices are affordable, it could be something that your company is open to, especially if you aren’t the only one that wants this option. Additional planning may have to take place, such as handling confidential information and figuring out how you position would work virtually. However, if a virtual office will make you better at your current job, it shouldn’t affect your long-term career.

Overall, if you take the time in making your decision on your virtual office and your virtual office provider, then it won’t be a decision that you regret. There are a million reasons not to do something, but if you can find several good reasons to have a virtual office, then you should make the switch.

November Virtual Office News Roundup

virtual office newsAs you prepare to fill up on turkey and other holiday favorites this weekend, we’ll prepare you by filling up with some of our favorite virtual office news articles. This news roundup is meant to keep you up-to-date with what’s going on in the industry, as well as provide tidbits on how to manage your virtual office better. Read, and enjoy the extra long weekend!

The New Office is No Office – Forbes – Newsflash: people want to work where they want, and most of the time, that’s not the office. However, not many companies are picking up on what their employees actually want and finding a solution that would be great for both parties. Only 22% of Americans work in an alternative location, such as a coffee shop or a library, versus 40% of Canadians. How much more productive would you be if you actually had options in where you could work?

3 Low-Cost Tools for Better Virtual Meetings – Entrepreneur – If you have a virtual office or are part of a virtual company, then virtual meetings are another aspect of “business as usual.” Virtual meetings are crucial since only so much can get done via email or through an online chat, while there are benefits to seeing folks face-to-face, even if it is just over the Internet. This article offers three great virtual meeting tools that facilitate great communication among your colleagues.

CEO Guide to Virtual Offices – Bloomberg Businessweek – Did not know this existed, but this collection of articles is a must-read for anyone needing to convince a higher up on the virtues of a virtual office, or any executive needing help managing a more mobile or virtual workforce. Two great articles in this guide are the one about getting rid of your office, and one about how to work with a virtual assistant.

Why Entrepreneurs Should Consider Working in a Virtual Office – Noobpreneur – Starting a business is easier than ever because it takes a lot less capital to do so then even 10 years ago, and some of those tools are easily available at home or at a coffee shop. This makes a virtual office that much more viable, because an entrepreneur can add a professional touch or increase its business capacity by getting better Internet connection, printing facilities, a receptionist and other office necessities with a virtual office.

13 Awesome Mobile Apps for the Virtual Office – Grasshopper – Everyone needs apps, and apps that make working in a virtual office easier are the best apps of all. Our particular favorites from this list are Dropbox and Skype, although for password management, we would recommend LastPass. It not only keeps all those passwords in one place, but when creating a new account, it will create a secure password for you and save it to your database.

Does a Blogger Need a Virtual Office? We would argue that a blogger could use a virtual office is the blog was a business in and of itself, or if the blogger offered his/her services for a fee. For those cases, a virtual office is a great place to work from time to time and is a professional setting to meet with clients. It wouldn’t be worthwhile for a hobby blogger who isn’t necessarily in the business of blogging.

The Costs of a Virtual Office

virtual office costsWith virtual office services ranging from $50 to $250 (and up) a month, depending on your city and your amenities, the price tag is much better than a typical office suite. It also offers a lot more than the home office or the coffee shop. After all, both of those come with hidden costs, like putting together that office infrastructure at home and all those lattes to keep your spot next to the outlet.

However, entrepreneurs and telecommuters need to be realistic. A virtual office will reduce your costs, but it doesn’t mean all your costs will disappear or that they will never come with new costs. Here’s a look at the costs of a virtual office; what you can expect when you pay your monthly fee and what other costs you can expect.

The Transition Cost of a Virtual Office

If you are transitioning to a virtual office from a home office, a coworking space, or a traditional office, then you might be moving your belongings from one place to another. If so, then that takes some time, time that would otherwise be spend marketing your business or working with clients. The transition means that, temporarily, you might not make as much money from your business, or you might have a few long days to pick up the slack. This might not translate into financial costs, but its an aspect of getting the virtual office that many may overlook.

Commuting to the Virtual Office

For some, the virtual office may just be someplace to have a professional address and to handle the mail. Other than that, you may be working from home or in coffee shops. That’s fine, but it does mean that you have to go to the virtual office regularly to pick up the mail (and at least pay rent once a month). Depending on the location of your virtual office, you might have to factor in commute time and the costs of that commute, whether its a public transportation ticket or gas prices on top of the time to make the trip and back. The commute may not be a big deal for most, but it can put a huge wrench in your day if you forget to budget the trip into your schedule. Commuting could also include any parking costs, if you travel to and from the office by car.

Any Other Virtual Office Costs?

Depending on your virtual office services or arrangement, you may have to pay for conference rooms or office supplies after a certain point. After all, if you use a whole ream of paper printing out research and contracts, surely the virtual office company will ask for something extra to cover that. Or, if you schedule 10 one-hour meetings in the course of a month, you might have to pay extra to have two or three of those meetings at your virtual office. Or, you might pay for some office supplies so you don’t have to compete with the other tenants when it comes to the stapler and the pens. Things change when you have a virtual office, so there might be some small costs associated with those changes.

Overall, a virtual office will help in reducing the overhead of a solopreneur or telecommuter, but it’s important to take an inventory or a catalog of what you spend your money on, and what kind of savings you’ll see with the virtual office. Sure, you might save $200/month on rent alone, but it might be close to $150/month if you’ll be spending more on gas to get to the virtual office and to use it for meetings. A virtual office won’t be a silver bullet, unless you mold it into the silver bullet you need it to be for your business.

How Virtual Offices Can Facilitate International Business

virtual officesVirtual offices are the new trend amongst international businesses. With the boost in quality and effectiveness that is brought forth by such offices, gradually this phenomenon is becoming a very popular one.

What Can a Virtual Office Do For Me?

The idea of a virtual office revolves around providing the right blend of off-site real time communication and related services that reduce the costs that would otherwise be associated with traditional office practices. The best part: a high level of business professionalism is maintained without anyone knowing how it is done.

International businesses are bound to benefit from the whole idea of virtual offices as it very conveniently provides a platform for the business to retain current customers and to attain new customers. Nothing provides a greater sense of security to a business than knowing that they can be located literally in any possible corner of the world, possess citizenship of any country yet still manage to enjoy an office anywhere in the world. There is no doubt that besides providing an effective presence in the professional business environment, a proper virtual office also ensures that the business enjoys greater credibility. An intelligent business knows that its success lies in the hands of its customers. Surely by providing easier access and convenience to the customers, virtual businesses enhance their efficiency, effectiveness as well as success opportunities.

Virtual Offices Improve Growth and Motivation

The advantages that a virtual office brings with it to the employees of a business are tremendous in terms of motivation, clear direction, and growth opportunities. Through such a system, employees are well aware of what their job specifically entails and hence it is easier to achieve goals. The frequency of communication involved not only gets them involved in every aspect of a business, but also gives way to growth as well as motivation.

The phenomenon of virtual offices is not one that is entirely alien to us. We witness such operations through companies that have a single telephone number via which they help their customers process their transactions. There are a myriad of opportunities that a business enjoys once it gives its customers convenient, automated access to information regarding the company through a single office phone number. With merely a touch of a button, customers can get to know about business working hours, get in contact with sales staff or get through to customer support as per their need. Any business that has a virtual office can access its online account from anywhere in the world given that an internet connection is available. Moreover, adding to the benefits of such a system is the fact that managers can even edit settings from their personal browser based cell phones.

Why Should I Have a Virtual Office?

With a professional virtual office you can easily manage your emails, meetings, contacts and documents through any computer over an internet connection and a web browser. Although it is abundantly clear that virtual offices work well in facilitating both the management/employees as well as customers, it has to noted that caution should be taken when selecting a service provider as that is what ultimately determines the extent to which your business can progress and function effectively.

Even Big Companies Can Benefit from Virtual Offices

virtual officesWe’ve previously discussed how virtual offices are great options for entrepreneurs, startups, small businesses, and independent professionals. However, virtual offices aren’t just for those who are smaller and wish to look big and professional. They can also be utilized by big companies as a way to allow employees to telecommute, to hire people who are scattered across the country (or the world), or to reduce costs by reducing office space and technology expenditures.

For example, pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline just went deskless, opting for a more fluid, open workspace instead of cubicles and private offices. This allows employees to utilize technology and to work according to their preferences, while encouraging teamwork and productivity. Even though everyone in this particular space is from the same company, it works very much like a virtual office where everything that is needed to be efficient is provided, and that there aren’t any specific spots or areas that people have to use. Meeting spaces are ad-hoc and open to everyone at anytime, and a receptionist is still available to work with any visitors or general phone calls to company.

A virtual office won’t make a big company appear smaller. That would be tough to do without laying off a few people. But, a big company could allow for employees to use a virtual office as a way to telecommute and to maintain a better work/life balance. For example, if a company has employees who drive more than a hour to work, then allowing them to use a virtual office that’s closer to their home would be better for both the employee and the company. The employee no longer has to waste as much time on the commute, and could therefore be more productive by getting more sleep and spending more time with family. The company benefits by having happier and more productive employees. The company would then not have to provide for as much people at the headquarters or main office, but could still utilize technology that probably already exists within the company to stay in touch with these telecommuting employees. If done right, it can be a win-win situation for both companies.

If a big company is also open to the idea of utilizing virtual offices, then that could allow the company to also hire people that aren’t necessarily located in the same city as the offices. This would open up the talent pool a great deal, decreases the time necessary for a new employee to join the team and to get settled, and also reduce relocation costs as there wouldn’t necessarily be a need for anyone to relocate. Just set them up with a virtual office and they can work for your company right away! But, make sure to invite them to corporate outings from time to time. These virtual employees wouldn’t mind visiting the nest once in a while.

Overall, virtual offices can be something for everyone, and can be tailored for everyone’s needs. They aren’t just something for tech-savvy entrepreneurs or young professionals who are always on the latest fads. Virtual offices can be a solution for just about any business, big or small. It’s just a matter of figuring out how the virtual office would be used and how it would be beneficial.

How to Make a Virtual Office Space Work for Your Business

virtual office spaceChange is tough, especially for a business. Depending on the change, you might have to close business all together for a short period of time, or coordinate a series of events so the fewest things possible are out of order. A change that can disrupt a business this much is a change in address, where physically moving somewhere else can take up a lot of quality time and energy. Even simply switching the address can be a hassle, as you now need to inform everyone about the change.

If you are an entrepreneur or small business that’s making the transition to a virtual office space, then there will many differences between the virtual office and your old setup, whether it’s a home office or a traditional office. Here are things to consider when making a virtual office space work for your business:

  1. Networking and Camaraderie – This is something that could easily be taken for granted in a traditional office, although someone working in a home office may understand how hard it is to find these things. Depending on your virtual office solution, networking and camaraderie may become easier or harder to come by. If it becomes harder, make sure to put in the effort to network and to get to know some of the other tenants in your space or building.
  2. Client Meetings – One of the big benefits of a virtual office space is the ability to meet clients and potential clients in a professional environment, away from noisy coffee shops and crowded restaurants. With a virtual office space, you could have these meetings in you new office or a conference room, making a good impression about you and your business. Take advantage of this from time to time.
  3. Consider a Live Receptionist – Many virtual office spaces offer a live receptionist who can take phone calls on behalf of your business. This person wouldn’t be an employee, but could be trained to handle customer calls, forward calls to your phone, screen for calls, and even take orders and messages. This could be a huge bonus for a business that receives a lot of calls, and could use the help managing them all without taking away from the core business in any way.
  4. Sign Up for Multiple Locations – One of the great things about virtual office companies is that they have locations all over the country, and may be able to work out allowing you to use their virtual office services in other cities. This is great for those who travel a lot for business, and don’t want to be relegated to doing work in the hotel room or the hotel business center. Multiple locations gives you all the amenities you’re used to at your primary location without a whole lot of additional trouble or expense.
  5. Choose Only the Services that You Need – Virtual offices may offer a lot of choice when it comes to the services and amenities offered, so take the time to think about what you need and what your business would like to get out of the virtual office space. This will make it easier to have the virtual office space work for your business and to meet the needs necessary to allow you and your business to grow and to succeed.

Overall, you will get out of your virtual office space what you put into it, so it’s best not to treat the decision as a small one. Even if you don’t plan to visit your office often or if the business is just you, a virtual office space shouldn’t be thought of as something that’s just there. It can be a real business asset, so treat is as such.

Looking for Office Space? 4 Things to Consider

looking for office spaceIf you’re looking for office space, there are tons of things to think about when finding an executive suite or a meeting space that’s right for you. Whether you are an entrepreneur just getting started, or a startup that’s expanding, or an established business looking to save some money, there is plenty to consider when looking for an office space and finding one that will fit your needs. Here are five things to consider when looking for office space:

  1. Location – Location can mean either within the city your in, or picking a city within the country. Many office space companies have lots of locations throughout the country, and may have several in the city you are in. Within the city, would your office space be located downtown, or in a major business district? Is the location employee friendly, with places to park and to go for lunch? Is the location easy to get to, such as near a major highway or a major exit? These are factors that can make a difference of whether or not an office space is right for you and your business.
  2. Technology – Some office spaces, especially virtual offices, will come with technological amenities. These can include printing and faxing services, high speed Internet, teleconferencing, a dedicated phone line, and virtual assistant services. Depending on the size of your business and your particular needs, you might want all the technology possible so you don’t have to worry about those costs. Maybe you’d like the other end, where technology is under your control because you have specific business needs and are very comfortable with these decisions. When looking for office space, consider the technological amenities.
  3. Flexibility – Would you like 24/7 access, or are typical 9 a.m. to 5 p.m hours suitable for you? Do you need mail forwarding services? Or access to other locations around the country when you travel? What’s their policy on children, or on dropping in for just a few hours a week to do work? Are services and spaces scalable, in case you have more growth in the future? The flexibility of an office space is important, because you want to find an office space company who’s willing to work with you and meet your needs, instead of trying to squeeze your needs into their services. The answers to these questions will indicate how flexible an office space is to meeting the needs of their tenants and potential tenants.
  4. Client Impression – If you are looking for office space that is suitable to bring clients looking for office spaceto, then you need to consider the kind of an impression the space will make on a client regarding you and your business. Does your office space come with security, so your client feels safe, but also welcome? Does your office space look clean, maintained, and up-to-date, so your client thinks that you are and your business are the same way? A client may not care about how flexible the office space is to your needs, or if it provides your Internet access, but you need to consider an office space that reflects well upon you and your company.

Looking for office space and finding one that’s right for you and your business is no easy task. There’s plenty to choose from, and plenty to consider when finally settling on a solution. Hopefully, there four considerations will make it easier in making your selection.

How ‘Virtual’ is a Virtual Office?

virtual office locations
Virtual office locations aren't that virtual at all. You could easily have an office like this one!

When you have a virtual office, what does that even mean? Do you have a physical office located somewhere else, or is it just some infrastructure that makes it look like you have a physical office? Is it just a business address that you keep, or are there other business amenities as well? What could someone possibly get out of virtual office services?

With virtual office locations all over the country, small and big businesses alike can learn what it means to have a virtual office. Essentially, it’s everything mentioned above. You can have a virtual office located right in your home city, or in several cities if you travel often and have clients in those areas, or even in your vacation city of choice if you need to work while your away. If you don’t need the physical office, you can simply have the infrastructure, such as the business address, call forwarding, and access to printing and conference rooms when necessary. With the infrastructure, a solopreneur or a small business can save on costs while making it look like they are running a big operation.

Although the word ‘virtual’ tends to imply something that’s imagined for fictional, that is not the case with virtual office locations at all. They function very similarly to a typical office, except that they offer much more flexibility that a typical office. If all you need is a business address because you work from home and you don’t want to give away your home address or have a PO Box, then virtual office services are what you’re looking for. If you’re a startup of three or four people that needs somewhere to meet from time to time, then virtual office services can provide that, as well as a live-answering receptionist so you don’t have to give away your cell phone number all the time. If you need a fully-functional virtual office in Las Vegas because you have a lot of clients there, but you don’t live in Las Vegas, then virtual office services would work for you as well.

Just about the only thing you have to imagine with a virtual office is the location, as there are virtual office locations everywhere, and all you have to do is see yourself with virtual office services in any part of the country you want or need. If you think a virtual office can work for you, then stop thinking about it in the ‘virtual’ sense. Make it happen today!

Virtual Office Services Catapult Businesses into the Digital Age

virtual office services
Virtual office services can save a business money in many ways.

At this point, businesses large and small can’t afford to be without technology or behind on the latest tools and techniques. Chances are, if you’re not up to speed on how to use technology, or on how different tech tools can work for you, then your competition is up to speed and is using this technology to their advantage, and your detriment.

One of the ways that technology can be an advantage is by reducing the costs on tools and processes that are needed to keep a business running. Technology can eliminate an expensive, complicated phone system, improve the return on investment in your marketing efforts, or simply save on time and money by reducing the time it takes to do certain things. Technology can even be used to outsource certain tasks, which can be a great benefit to businesses who don’t have the personnel or the capital to take on those tasks and run the business at the same time.

Virtual office services can be solution to those businesses who want to utilize technology better, or simply want to cut costs or have more time to devote to the core businesses. Virtual office services encompass a variety of things: conference rooms, a live receptionist, mail forwarding, and a professional business address, just to name a few. If you’re a business that has employees and contractors located all over the world, then virtual office services can serve as a point of cohesion for all those people and time zones. If you’re strictly an online or e-commerce business, then virtual office services can add a sense of professionalism with the live receptionist and the business address. If you’re a small business that could use to cut a few expenses, then virtual office services can help by removing the brick-and-mortar, or by providing the printing and faxing services that you would otherwise have to cover.

Virtual office services involve a new way to do business, and involve much of the technological advances that are making businesses cheaper and easier to run. To write them off because they would be hard to learn, or because the old way of doing things has always worked, would be a bad and a naive decision. Your competitors are taking the time to learn, and are changing the way they do things, and it would be to your disadvantage if you don’t change as well. Virtual office services are just one way to make that change and to put yourself in the right direction in outlasting your competitors.

Virtual Office Services a Big Benefit for Small Businesses

virtual office services
Teleconferencing is one of the many virtual office services that can help reduce costs for small businesses.

One of the biggest operational costs for small or budding business is that of the office space. Rent, office supplies, utilities (maybe), electronic infrastructure, can all add up to be a big hole in the wallet of small business. Yet, it would be very hard for a business to operate without printing, Internet, or a phone system. What’s a small or budding business that’s short on costs to do?

An option that has worked for small businesses and independent professionals is virtual office services. Virtual office services provide all the benefits of a permanent office space without all those big office expenses. With virtual office services, a small business can have a permanent business address, conference and meeting rooms (if necessary), and a virtual receptionist.

On top of all that, imagine the personal benefits of virtual office services: no need for a morning commute (which means less traffic and less money on gas), the chance to work from home more often and maintain a work/life balance, and the opportunity to work flexible hours and to do things you wouldn’t normally have time for. With virtual office services, you could have a home office while having a professional space to hold meetings. With virtual office services, you could work at night if you’re a night owl, or work around the schedule of your kid’s school or babysitter.

Virtual office services are also a good choice if your small business is in any green industries, or is conscious about sustainability. By using virtual office services instead of a traditional office space, you can eliminate over 13,000 pounds of CO2 that is released into the atmosphere during the commute every year. Now, that would be a statistic to brag if you’re a business that’s serious about going green or reducing carbon footprints!

Overall, virtual office services may be a new concept, but they are a great option for small businesses and independent professionals who need to cut their operational costs and keep their budgets small. Virtual office services can provide everything necessary to function and to appear like a big, bustling firm without the hefty price tag.