Being that we write about the advantages of virtual offices all the time, it is quite easy for us to point out the various and many advantages of a virtual office. When it came to finding some disadvantages of virtual offices, we had to scour the internet looking for them. The disadvantages we found were mostly in respect to employees that telecommuted through a virtual office.
Let’s first look at the advantages of a virtual office for a small business
The first advantage for a small business or start-up is having a professional business address. It is important to demonstrate professionalism and that can not be easily achieved by letting your clients and potential customers know that you work from your kitchen table or a small computer desk in your basement. The only thing worse than using your home address as your business address for your business image is using a post office box. Having a professional business address at a prestigious office location tells your clients that you take your business seriously.
The second (and just as important) advantage is the enormous cost saving of not having to pay rent for physical office space, as well as the other costs associated with a traditional office such as having to furnish it and purchase office equipment and telephone systems. Having a virtual office at an office business centre not only saves you money on office expenses, but also saves you time and money on commuting into an office every weekday. Think of the cost of your time! If you spend 2 hours a day commuting, then that represents 10 hours a week that you could have been working on your business and earning money.
The third biggest advantage of having a virtual office is the reduced risk of operating your small business or start-up. Not having to make all of the capital expenditures on furnishings and office equipment means that you do not have all your resources tied up – and therefore you have less non-operational-related liabilities. This lower risk may also be helpful if your small business wants to diversify or expand to other markets. You can easily set up another inexpensive virtual office solution in another market and appear to have a physical presence in that marketplace.
Another advantage of a virtual office is that you have the flexibility to work when it is convenient for you, wherever you are. You are also able to perform your normal work duties from your home, your shop or on the road without being confined to a single office all day. This is especially true is you are using a VoIP virtual office solution that gives you an extension that can be reached anywhere in the world.
When you have your virtual office at an office business centre like Telsec, you have the advantage of access to boardrooms and meeting rooms in the same location as you receive your mail. Also, your customers see this information on your website, business cards and other materials such as brochures and letterheads. You also have access to the photocopiers at very low prices per copy as well as incoming faxes for free.
Some define a virtual office as being any place in which a person uses a computer to perform a job while still being connected to virtual office provider for their mail and telephone services. These are ideal arrangements for a person who works from a virtual office and he or she is telecommuting to and from work. Even companies with virtual employees will use a company email address, and in some instances, they may even use company phone extensions at the virtual office provider while still working from an outside location. This is where some people may find disadvantages to working from a virtual office.
Some of the perceived disadvantages of virtual offices
Businesses that have employees performing their duties from virtual offices from their homes do so at an assortment of locations. Essentially, there is no home-base office for employees to report to or meet with colleagues. So, for businesses that needs an actual physical space and daily physical interactions to get the work done, a virtual office may not be the best solution.
Some believe that a disadvantage to working from a virtual office is the lack of social interaction between employees. While some will easily discount this disadvantage, it can be especially difficult for extroverts who thrive on human interaction. This is because with a virtual office situation, human interaction is hard to come by – unless the employee is stepping out to work from a local library or a from a coffee shop to get that social interaction.
Another perceived disadvantage of working from a from a virtual office is the distractions and sometimes lack of motivation. These can sometimes cause morale and productivity to decline. For a person who has self-discipline and works best independently with little supervision, a virtual office arrangement can, in fact, boost his or her productivity.
Communication problems between employees can also be seen as a disadvantage of a virtual office. Communicating via email, texting, social media or even tele-conferencing is just not the same as face-to-face chat or in-person conversations. This is because, more often than not, we might miss the subtle non-verbal clues missing in written communications. This can lead to poor communication or misinterpretation of one’s comments or notes – and can sometimes slow down interaction that could have been more easily communicated via a quick telephone call. But once employees are aware of these problems (or at least get used to being better non-verbal communicators) they will become less of an issue.
Some people are now calling virtual offices their cloud offices, because they are also operating their files and software as a service through cloud servers. Learn more about cloud storage solution on this blog