The pandemic has brought significant changes in our lives, from dealing with uncertainty to the way we perceive our health. Perhaps the biggest change is seen in the way we work. Companies are constantly altering their strategies to fit into the constantly changing scenario. Work-from-home has become a norm and is proven to be more profitable to private firms, and it is expected that work-from-home shall remain the primary choice for many companies and employees alike.
In this world of tough competition, every company is finding ways to manage time and resources and is trying to make their work more and more efficient. Many companies have started working remotely, giving flexible timings to their employees in an attempt to adjust to changing lifestyles.
The concept of remote working and virtual office spaces existed before the pandemic too, but the recent health crisis has forced all companies to work virtually. The world has started adjusting to the new norm, thus questioning the importance of a physical office. Furthermore, the pros and cons of both physical and virtual office spaces are constantly being measured.
WHAT IS A VIRTUAL OFFICE?
Virtual Offices are companies that do not exist in one specific location but have a specific mailing address and operate as one unit. It is considered to be a more efficient way of working as a lot of money is saved on maintaining the infrastructure for offices and on administrative staff.
The employees may also reside in different locations across the world and work remotely while being on the same task. A recent example of virtual offices can be seen as the work-from-home strategy that most companies adopted to deal with the pandemic where all employees were virtually connected to each other and coordinating and completing their tasks from their homes itself.
HOW VIRTUAL OFFICES ARE TRANSFORMING BUSINESSES
The virtual environment is much more focused on breaking physical barriers to deliver more efficiency and superior performance. Virtual environments, if used to their full potential, can be used to increase engagement and interaction with customers and employees alike. This type of setup is especially popular with startups and small businesses that want to minimize their expenses.
Through a virtual office, a company saves a lot on operating capital. Not having a staff with employees saves a lot of money on overhead costs (rent, utilities, parking, furniture, etc.), thus diverting that money to research, marketing, better salaries to employees, etc. This way, a company is also able to afford a bigger staff as it is not limited by logistical issues. It does not need a bigger office or more supplies to accommodate the increase in staff.
It is proven to be more efficient as employees are not caught up in other unnecessary administrative tasks or wasting their time commuting to the office. The company is also not restricted to hiring locally and can scout for talent all over the world. A company can get the best talent to work for them even if the person is living miles away. Thus having no geographical limitations, a company could bring the best of global talents to work for them.
Moreover, flexible work timings allow employees to work at their own schedule, especially when they are working across different time zones. Allowing people to work according to their own time schedules can enable them to balance their work and personal life, thus making them less prone to stress and resulting in more efficiency and productivity in their work.
Even businesses become more efficient as they are able to respond faster, giving them an edge over other competitors. Customers can virtually connect to the company’s employees and can stay connected, thanks to speedy networks, large-scale online collaborative scales, etc. Constant communication with a client can increase trust in the company, and also, such virtual workspaces can allow for 24-hour or instant feedback making it faster to change business strategies according to the client’s satisfaction. The company does not have to wait for someone to come into the office and then complete the task. All queries and changes can be done instantly.
But some people do find these virtual spaces more exhausting as they believe coordination among other employees becomes difficult and there is a lack of motivation. It also leads to less control by the employer on the employee. Especially when it comes to data security, ensuring the company-owned equipment is properly taken care of, employees are not misusing sensitive information, or ensuring data security defenses are in check becomes a very difficult and laborious task.
Having a physical office gives the company a marketing edge and legitimacy to the business, which might not be possible with a virtual office. When in the office, it is easy to stay focussed when you are among your colleagues who are performing the same task, and it is easy to stay away from distractions. Taking immediate help, coordinating over the same task, or collectively brainstorming over a problem becomes much easier if people are physically present, and an employee could feel less isolated.
Nevertheless, virtual spaces have proven to be more beneficial and appeal to a lot of users. A virtual office can be secured through a month-to-month lease providing greater flexibility to the user in terms of changing their virtual office or diving into a new business. Moreover, a virtual office can, on average, range from $40 to $200, costing way less than setting up a traditional office. Also, the physical mailing address, telephone, and videoconferencing services make the business seem legitimate and professional.
Oliver Smith, a columnist, rightly said, “The world of business has been transformed by technology, with our increasingly mobile lives turning traditional desk and office business practices upside down.”
Technological advancements have made the remote working experience even more efficient, and newer features are being added each day which is making the idea of a virtual workspace very popular. Some do believe that these kinds of workspaces cannot provide an alternative to traditional offices where people can physically be in the presence of each other and hold meetings or normal conversations, but with the increasing use of such workspaces and such an increase in technology, this need can be fulfilled in a virtual setting too.
Written by: Aashna