For years, the visual representation of the working environment has always been an office. To many, this is still the case. While the physical office space has its advantages, times are changing and nowadays technology allows us to run entire businesses from a computer.
I recently read a fantastic article detailing exactly what a virtual office is and its benefits which you can find here; alternatively here are ten reasons why I feel a virtual office is an excellent solution for your SME.
1. Access to facilities
When you start a new business or need to expand, you’ll need access to certain facilities such as office equipment and meeting rooms. Many virtual office operators allow you to hire these facilities on a pay-as-you-use basis, which can save you money on equipment and rental fees. For example, if you need a one-off, large quantity of copies you can pay to use a machine; or if you want to hold a meeting in a professional environment, you can use a conference room. In addition, many operators will have computers with Internet access already set up and ready to use if you simply want a change of scenery.
2. Automated services
Hiring a full time employee to partake in mundane tasks around the office such as answering telephone calls and opening mail isn’t always worth your investment. Virtual offices provide telephone answering services which will respond to your calls in a professional manner, take messages and forward calls directly to you. In addition, they will also be able to scan the contents of your physical mail and email it to you. Having access to these reception courtesies can do wonders to your company profile.
3. Fewer overheads
Overhead costs will determine whether or not you can effectively conduct business. Spending too much money on office equipment and premises could leave you with little money for marketing, general upkeep and wages. A virtual office has fewer overheads as you don’t have to purchase anything upfront. This can leave you with more money to distribute amongst other departments. It also means that you don’t have to acquire as much finance in order to get your business up and running.
4. Reduced operating costs
Having enough finance to get started in the first place is one thing, but having enough to keep your business afloat is something else altogether. Transport, office equipment, rental fees, wages, etc., all come under operating costs and if you don’t have enough finance to cover them, your business will fail. Virtual offices significantly reduce these fees. Since you won’t have a physical workspace, you completely alleviate transportation costs and only use specific services and facilities as and when you need them.
5. Flexible contracts
Traditional office spaces will often require a long-term lease agreement. Professional virtual office agreements can last for as little or as long as you need. This means if you have a financial shortfall, you can cancel your agreement for as long as you need to. You are also free to change the terms of your contract. For example, if you’d like add or remove anything – such as telephone answering or a mailing address – you can arrange to change the terms of the agreement.
6. Expansion opportunities
Whether you own a small business or a corporate empire, expansion is always difficult. Expanding can actually drive you out of business if you don’t have the finance and manpower for it. If you are unsure about expanding and want to limit your risk, virtual offices can provide workers and facilities on a temporary basis for a significantly lower price than an employee on payroll.
7. Improves corporate identity
The way your company is perceived can make or break your business. Many contractors won’t want to work with you if you work from home and don’t have your own office. Virtual offices allow you to place a prestigious office address on your business cards and website, etc. This alleviates any problems regarding your professional image and being taken seriously within your field.
In addition, this can help you if you want to establish yourself in a particular location that’s associated with your industry. According to SmallBusinss.co.uk, 74 per cent of virtual office clients within London are located within the West End. This proves that even in a capital city, choosing the right location for your industry is paramount. Most operators will listen to your business needs and work with you to establish the best possible address to represent your business.
8. Helps build credit
Meeting compliance demands from creditors, lenders and suppliers isn’t always easy. Sometimes you will be refused credit if you work from home or don’t have a traditional office space. With a virtual office you can register all of your business information to your virtual office address, allowing you to bypass certain legislations relating to your premises.
9. Research opportunities
Researching new markets is one of the most important elements of business expansion. Before you delve straight into setting up a new branch, it’s always a good idea to test the market and determine whether or not it will be beneficial. Virtual offices can be used to establish your company in a particular geographic location without having to move there physically.
10. Increased productivity
Many of the world’s most famous brands – such as Virgin and Google – favour hiring remote workers as it can significantly increase productivity. If you hire somebody to work from home, you’ll judge them by the quality of their work, rather than how they work. This can yield positive results for all parties – workers feel more relaxed and have increased morale, and employers get better results.
Virtual offices can be scaled up or down at short notice without any long-term commitments, making them versatile and cost efficient regardless of your industry. Therefore, if you’re looking for a safe and secure way to progress your business, they can be an ideal solution.