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Virtual Office Space

How can office space be virtual?  It is actually not the contradiction you think it is!  Virtual office space is a very real concept and it’s helping small businesses save tremendous amounts of money, expand their reach to the international level, and become many times more efficient.  It makes employees happier and causes a significant increase in productivity.

Virtual Office Space

The English language has a lot of interesting anomalies, and one of them is the word virtual.  Here is a dictionary definition:

adj.  Existing or resulting in essence or effect, though not in actual fact, form, or name. e.g. the virtual extinction of the buffalo.

Essentially the word “virtual” means “not“—almost precisely opposite to what people imply when they say it.  Has anybody ever said to you that a business deal was “virtually assured”?  Have you ever owned a television set with a “virtual flat screen”?  In both cases you can see that “the deal” is not assured, and that model of TV does not have a flat screen.

When we talk about virtual office space, we’re talking about having all of the functionality of a “real office”, but with none of the drawbacks.  It’s not an office; you’re not paying between $10 and $50 per square foot every month for rent; you avoid the need for investing in dozens of computers, desks, chairs, photocopiers, filing cabinets and all the paraphernalia that makes up the infrastructure of the conventional office.

Send Them Home

When work is intellectual or practical and doesn’t require intimate interaction with someone else to be completed, businesses are discovering that they are further ahead to let their employees work from home.  This saves employees the time ordinarily wasted when commuting, and reduces stress; they can wake up and go straight to work in their pajamas, if that suits them.

This new strategy allows them to complete the work on their own schedule as long as they still meet deadlines.  The day of the punch clock and “assembly-line creativity” is headed for the history books.  Let’s hear it for the virtual office space!

Surprising benefits

The unexpected thing is that people working from home generally do a better job.  People are at their most creative when they first roll out of bed in the morning.  It’s the mind-numbing drive through heavy traffic to get to an office that muffles it.

Employees are more content and happier in the virtual office space than they are in the hyper-competitive and frequently toxic atmosphere, of the conventional office.  Employee health often improves because they are reasonably free to maintain a schedule that suits them.

Do you need to take your mother to the podiatrist?  Go ahead.  Is it Dad’s birthday and you want to take him out for round of golf?  Do it!  This new contentment carries over into the job which means a much lower churn rate for your employees.  If they are most productive between 9:00 PM and 9:00 AM, they can keep that schedule.

“One firm reaped big benefits when they shuttered the office and sent employees home to work” observed Gini Dietrich on the OPENforum of American Express

Small Business Benefits

When setting up your new virtual office space many factors will contribute to its success or failure.  One of the most important ones is your business address.  Is it in a commercial district?

Banks and all sorts of other institutions look at your business’s zip code; if it’s in a residential area you lose several hundred points of credibility.  Put yourself in their position…  Which has a better chance of success: 13 Morning Glory Circle or 1000 Commerce Blvd., Suite 306?

Just as important is a telephone number that is easily identifiable as being “local” (including your fax-line).  A company providing a virtual office space can provide live telephone answering at a local number.  This means a lot to your customers.  They see you as part of their community.

Another big step in presenting your virtual office space in the proper light is customized after-hours voicemail for all your employees through a central number.  Each person can answer directly through call-forwarding, if they’re available, and for when they are not, they record their own message to follow this one:

“ACME Inc. office hours are 9 to 5 EST, Monday to Friday.  If you know the extension number of the person you’re trying to contact please enter it now, or press zero to leave a message in the general voicemail box.”

Branch Offices

You can have employees anywhere in the world.  If physical interaction is necessary with a customer in Dublin, Ireland, a sales-team member in your virtual office space that lives in Dublin would be very handy.  Travel expenses would be minimal.  That holds true for any city where you conduct business, anywhere in the world.

A virtual office space also gives you the option of expanding from a few local employees to dozens all over the world.  You could have a buyer/exporter in Shanghai and an importer/distributor in Los Angeles—whatever works for your business model.

The Takeaway

Virtual office space will change the way you do business.  It will extend your reach, decrease your costs, and enhance your credibility. 

If you’re ready to try virtual office space stop by either of our locations at 330 Changebridge Road in Montville, or 181 New Road in Parsippany, or you can call us at 973-575-6080. We would love to talk with you!

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