January 1, 2020 | 4 minutes

The Disadvantages of Virtual Offices

desk and chair in a home office

Change is inevitable, but its never easy and not always desired. If you need to make a change with your business, and a virtual office is an option that’s on the table, then you need the best information possible in order to make an informed decision. We’ve spent a lot of time highlighting the benefits and advantages of a virtual office, but there are disadvantages as well. Here are some of those disadvantages, factors that need to be considered when a virtual office is an option for your business or company:

Lack of Centralization

If the company is just you, then this isn’t a problem. But, if you use contractors or have a few employees, then a lack of centralization or a single place for everyone to meet and to work everyday can be difficult. It might not be difficult for you to maintain the self-discipline to work with a virtual office, but your employees might not like the lack of structure. Fortunately, the virtual office is there to be structure if necessary, but it still requires more initiative on their part than a traditional office space.

Scheduling Conflicts

With a virtual office, you don’t necessarily have your own conference room to use whenever you need it. You also have to take the time to pick up your mail once or twice a week if you don’t have mail forwarding. If either, or both, are the case, then you do have to take the time to schedule use of the conference room ahead of time, or to go to the virtual office to pick up the mail. This might not be a big deal for those that are good at organizing their time, or aren’t far from the virtual office, but it does make it difficult to meet with a client on short notice.

Lack of Interaction

This is a disadvantage that can easily get glossed over or taken for granted, especially for extroverts who thrive on human interaction. With a virtual office, human interaction is hard to come by, as people may not be there or may be there to work rather than socialize. You also don’t have the interactions that come with a traditional work environment, such as lunch breaks and chatting with your coworkers about the boss or about life. If you think this will be an issue for you, make sure to find other outlets for that human interaction, such as networking events, volunteer activities, or getting to know others at the library or the local coffee shop.

Decreased Productivity

In a virtual office environment, it can be easy to get distracted by outside influences, or to think that you now have all the time in the world to get work done. Although taking breaks and working at night (if you are a night owl) may be good for your productivity, don’t let yourself get fooled or to get lazy. Even the most self-disciplined can get off track, or have a day of doing nothing. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break or getting the distraction that you need, but make sure those things don’t get in the way of doing your work.

Communication can be Tough

With technology, we now have more ways than ever to communicate: email, social media, teleconferencing, texting, etc. It makes working from a virtual office that much easier, but it can also make communicating with clients and colleagues that much harder. When it’s not a face-to-face meeting or even a telephone conversation, there’s an increased chance for miscommunication or misinterpretation. Perhaps that use of a word was a spelling error and not meant to mean something offensive. All the words lack the non-verbal cues and the tone of voice that could make it easier to gauge what the person is saying and how they are feeling about certain things. All this can be easily fixed once you are aware of the problems, but it could take some time to fix, or at least get used to. 

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