What are the Negative Aspects of a Virtual Office. How can we Counter Them
The advantages of a virtual office far outweigh any disadvantages, that’s why they are so popular. Virtual Offices are available on every continent and in almost every city. But no operational model is perfect, and it’s wise to understand any drawbacks so you can deal with the negatives before they matter.
These are some of the challenges of the virtual office model and how to solve them:
1/ Virtual Workplaces Can Be Lonely
Humans need humans, that’s a given. It’s the frequency and type of interaction that’s the challenge - because we also need time to ourselves.
With a virtual office, you can have a premium office address and your mail and packages will be delivered to this address, but you’ll mostly only see the faces of your remote teams on Teams or Zoom.
The solution to this lack of face to face personal interaction is to subscribe to a virtual office rental that provides meeting facilities at the same address. Most CBD virtual offices also offer conferencing facilities, boardrooms, meetings rooms, private suites and co-working spaces that can be booked by the hour or the day or the week or even the month. Simply book what you need when you need it.
If you have some WFH staff living locally, it’s good to arrange regular catch ups at the office building housing your virtual office, fortnightly or monthly meetings are a good solution.
A well-resourced Virtual Office is a great option. Your remote staff and your clients will love to visit a chic modern office building in the centre of the city, close to all transport. Just imagine. Visitors will be impressed by the sublime city views from your high floor virtual office address, and the stylish amenities and complimentary refreshments will make catch-ups a pleasure. For those remote working staff located in other states or overseas, it’s smart to arrange quarterly or half -yearly personal catch-ups at your virtual office facilities.
In the intervals between face-to-face catch ups every manager of remote teams should maximise the use of comms applications to stay in touch from text to Skype or VOIP calls - find out the best form of communication to each employee and stick with it. Keep a record of staff birthdays, festivals and monitor the news on the regions your remote teams are based. The further away your telecommuting staff are based, the more you need to make the effort to keep them closer.
2/ How do You Work From Home for a Virtual Office?
Another challenge for virtual businesses is how well remote workers separate their work life duties when they WFH (work from home). When everyone in the business works together virtually it’s important they organise themselves well and adhere to routines that ensure a clear work /home separation so they are not distracted. But before we come down too hard on WFH staff becoming distracted, let’s remember the noisy conversations, the loud laughter from the office kitchen, and the other multiple distractions in an average conventional office space.
When you work remotely it’s important to establish a specific area of your home that is only used for work. Making clear work space boundaries and setting up routines will bring order to your work day. It may take a few weeks to really settle into your regimen, don’t be too hard on yourself, you’ll find the groove.
3/ Virtual Offices and Leadership of Remote Staff
Leading your remote workers can be a challenge, but it doesn’t need to be. Leading your remote staff is so much easier if you have recruited well, so always make the time for a comprehensive interview process, detailed on-boarding, and a probationary period. You’ll need to recruit people who can work unsupervised. If a person needs an authority figure monitoring them all the time that’s not the sort of employee you need for your virtual office workplace. Naturally people want praise and reinforcement, but they also crave the freedom to be accountable to themselves.
If you’ve subscribed to a virtual office with meeting facilities then use those advantages to negate the disadvantages of remote working - schedule regular face-to-face catch-ups. When there is a regular structured catch-up arrangement the conversations will really matter and the focussed interaction will generate better productivity.
Also take the time to stay in touch with the current affairs and news where your staff are based – it really means a lot to telecommuting employees when they know that their managers are interested and concerned about their welfare. Well managed remote staff can be much more productive than on-site staff, it’s simply a matter of leveraging the advantages and minimising the downsides.
4/ Making Time-Zones Differences into a Virtual Office Positive
With your main business address at a virtual office and your staff working remotely from other time-zones, a business leader needs to have the right remote management perspective.
The days when everyone in a business all came to one office building at the same time and left at the same time are over. Finished. The End.
The new globally connected digital workplace isn’t restricted by the conventions of the past. For businesses to survive and thrive in the future, they need to leverage the advantages of remote teams and minimise the downsides.
Remote teams working across different time-zones mean that your business is developing products and servicing clients while you sleep. With remote teams working in different time zones, work on projects can proceed on a 24/7 basis, and that gives a huge advantage in the race to market with your competitors.
5/ Online Security for your Virtual Office
Cyber security is crucial for modern business. It’s vital for virtual offices with staff working remotely to have strict internet protocols and strong protection against risks and threats that can lead to data privacy leaks, financial fraud, IP theft and numerous other cyber impacts on business revenue, reputation and commercial survival.
This challenge is much greater for virtual offices with all staff working remotely than the conventional office but no matter what the business model, a comprehensive culture of online protection is paramount. With staff working at multiple locations it is important to implement strong protection from the get-go – not as a reaction to an event. Trusted VPNs, premium anti-virus security and a business culture of best-practice online is the way to go.
However one advantage of virtual teams reliant on cloud-based systems is that it reduces the need for physical infrastructure and hence there is no easy single point of entry to access. An environment of employees working remotely can also provide the option of transferring tasks from one compromised site to a better protected location, whereas in the traditional office, usually all employees are affected equally.
6/ Remote Workers Need Great Helpdesk Support
It is vital to have the appropriate helpdesk support for remote employees. The commercial success of a virtual workplace can be attributed to a large extent to the quality of IT support that remote teams enjoy. Staff morale and commitment for telecommuters are hugely dependent on the quality of support they receive from the business. Talented staff will leave if they aren’t looked after. We all know how frustrating it can be when a sudden software glitch stops the completion of a vital task.
Great helpdesk assistance to troubleshoot roadblocks, fix bugs, set up employee profiles and educate users cancels out the disadvantages of distance, and really helps to develop the ‘new normal’ of virtual office addresses and virtual workplaces.
6/ Unfortunately Virtual Office Addresses Aren’t Forever
Virtual offices addresses aren’t forever. Office buildings change hands, office leases end - but it’s rare that a prestige virtual office address rental will last less than ten years. All virtual business service providers have an interest in offering reliable and stable services. In changing times when businesses require flexibility - they also crave dependability. A well-respected virtual business address with secure mail and package reception supported by a provider with a solid business reputation is a worthwhile investment. Sure, that virtual office location on your business card might not be forever, but it will be a trusted virtual office address for many years.
7/ Accessing Your Virtual Office Address Isn’t Always 24/7
Most Virtual offices don’t provide physical access 24/7 to pick up mail and packages. It’s a minor disadvantage in the larger scheme of things for all the other advantages a quality virtual office address can offer, like the option to have your correspondence opened, scanned and emailed so you can read your mail no matter where you happen to be in the world. It also means that security at your virtual office address is paramount.
8/ A Few Countries Don’t Permit Virtual Offices
Virtual business solutions like virtual offices are available in most countries in the world, but there are a few countries where jurisdictions don’t permit virtual offices. These are probably countries you wouldn’t want to visit anyway, let alone set up a business address.
So let’s remember the great advantages of virtual offices
Virtual business services like virtual offices provide the cost-effective freedom to be agile in a commercial and political landscape of constant change and challenge.
- It only takes a short while to set up your virtual office and you can have a prestigious business address same day at a highly respected location that you may not be able to afford otherwise.
- All your business mail and packages will be securely received and held for you at your virtual office – there are no worries about porch pirates. Most virtual offices will also email you for free to notify you about deliveries, so there is none of that worrying about mail and frequently checking post boxes, waiting for important documents. Relax in the reliability you’ve subscribed to.
- A virtual office address will also protect your identity if you work from home or from anywhere in the world, your clients will only know that prestigious virtual office address.
- The cost savings from not having to pay a monthly office lease and all the associated compounded outgoings is probably one of the biggest advantages of a virtual office. You can present a great business image at little cost, and have multiple virtual offices across your sales network.
- Going virtual with a virtual workplace means you can scale up and expand without the time-consuming activity of finding office spaces to lease and populating the offices with work desks and all the conventional paraphernalia of the traditional working environment.
- With a virtual workplace your business can now employ talent from across the planet, not just in one small locality that’s dependent on the vagaries of transport systems. You’ve given your business the freedom to access a huge talent pool of remote workers.
- Finally one of the key attributes is always the freedom to be able to adjust to circumstances. Covid 19 taught a hard lesson to many business leaders about the importance of a business strategy that priorities flexibility and agility.
Too many business are caught leaden-footed when dramatic change comes, locked into tired expectations of how markets, consumers and employees will act. Utilising a virtual business environment will ensure that you can ride change, save costs, reduce risk and reap the opportunities.