Thanks to technology, the office landscape is changing faster than ever. From outsourcing to cloud computing, new technology means you can stay in touch with work anywhere in the world. You can also see all the effects of work on the web in the virtual office. A virtual office allows employees to log in remotely, accessing necessary files and communicating all via the Internet. While a virtual office has all the benefits of technological convenience, traditional methods may still be best for your business. Let’s take a look at why a virtual office may be the best—or worst—idea ever.
The Virtual Office: Best or Worst Idea Ever?
Best ever: Convenience and cash
If time is money, then convenience and cash often go hand in hand. A virtual office means you cut down on transportation for you and your employees, saving you all a great deal of time. Less time and energy wasted commuting means more dedication to actual work. Hours are also more flexible, as you can pull your computer out anywhere and start working.
You will most likely still need a physical location, but a virtual office lets you opt for a smaller space. In high-rent cities, office space (not to mention supplies) can take up a huge chunk of your budget, so cutting down on square footage will save essential working capital. You could even contract agents in central locations, while keeping your physical office in one of the best state tax systems for small businesses.
Worst ever: You can’t get away
A virtual office makes the dividing line between work and personal life much hazier. According to the Small Business Owner Report by the Bank of America, more than half of small business owners give up free time to run their companies. The availability of work right at your fingertips, any time and any place, may simply be too tempting. A virtual office might lead you to start working as soon you check your personal e-mail or look up a recipe—cutting into your precious free time. (On the flip side, a virtual office may also encourage procrastination, since you can “always do it later.”)
Best ever: Find qualified employees anywhere
Small businesses have the best hiring intentions since 2008, reports a Gallup Small Business Index Poll. Despite the positive outlook for hiring, over half of small business owners said it was very or somewhat difficult to find qualified employees. The wide spread of a virtual office also means an expanded hiring pool. Although your office is in Florida, you may be able to find excellent employees in New York, Chicago or even England.
Worst ever: The Internet is a fickle friend
Relying on an Internet connection may be a problem, depending on your geographic area. Even if your network is never an issue, the computers themselves may crash or break down when you most need them. In a brick-and-mortar office, you may have alternate options or you might benefit from any IT experts around. A virtual office could leave you or your employee stuck at home with a broken computer and handicapped productivity.
Of course, there’s a flip side to this. Already having your data and programs online could mean less worry over system crashes and backing up files. As with any structural decision, committing to a virtual office is a big step, and only you know if it’s the right direction for your small business.