Remote work isn’t a new concept, but in 2020 remote work became a mainstream business model as companies around the world had to abruptly embrace working from home overnight. Covid-19 has opened up the adoption of long-term ‘work from anywhere’ models and hybrid work strategies which combine work-from-home (WFH) with time in the office for the ultimate flexible work schedule. If you’re thinking about embracing a hybrid work model, a virtual office could be a solution for the flexibility you’re looking for in a work week.
What is a virtual office and is it the same as coworking?
Don’t let the word ‘virtual’ throw you. A virtual office doesn’t mean your office only exists in cyberspace, a virtual office is a ‘real office.’ Essentially, it’s a service that gives you access to a physical office infrastructure on a part-time basis, when you need it. Typically, a virtual office plan includes products such as mail collection and business address services, live answering services, or access to private guest offices and meeting rooms at a flexible office location near home or wherever makes sense for the type of work you do (i.e. if you want a space to meet with colleagues or clients then perhaps you choose a space that’s centrally located or near public transportation, etc).
What differentiates a virtual office plan from a coworking membership is primarily the service component. Most coworking memberships offer access to open workspace usually with a variety of seating options, from group tables to one-person desks. If you need a break from your WFH life and are looking for a convenient place to work amongst others, fast wifi, coffee, and access to community events, then a coworking membership could be all you need. However, if you want more services to accompany your hybrid work model, a virtual office plan usually comes with a few more bells and whistles.
WFH challenges and virtual office mail services
Mail services are a huge component of virtual office plans. If you’re a startup or freelancer, a home office business address simply doesn’t cut it. You need a professional and ‘real’ business address on your marketing collateral, business cards, and website. Additionally, the flexible office operator managing your plan will receive mail on your behalf, hold it for pick-up, or forward the mail to you according to your directions, saving you the time and headache of managing this yourself.
Corporate users may not need a professional business address for marketing purposes, but if you’re primarily working from home, you could find value in a digital mail service. Virtual mailbox plans include notification of mail received usually through an app and/or email/text. Then, you can communicate to your virtual mailbox provider whether they should forward, scan, or shred your mail. This is a great way to manage your business mail productively on days that you WFH.
Managing business calls while you WFH
Live Answering is always the part of a virtual office plan that most people think they don’t need, but when a potential client calls, are you always there to answer? A business answering service allows you to stay connected from anywhere and is a key productivity tool you should consider for your remote/WFH routine.
Utilizing a local phone number as your business line not only protects your personal cell phone number, but most importantly, you’ll never miss a call. Additionally, having a live person screen and announcing your calls gives you a heads-up in knowing exactly what the call is about, so you can decide whether to take the call or ask for the caller to be put into voicemail. You may not think you need it at first, but a good virtual office provider will be flexible and allow you to add business answering services at any time.
Combining office access to your WFH model
When you need to meet with clients, access to professional guest offices and meeting rooms is another top priority when it comes to the benefits of virtual office services for WFH professionals. If in-person meetings are important to your business, your virtual office plan should include regular access to meeting space and allow for easy, real-time online booking capabilities.
For professionals who are used to being part of an in-office company culture, the shift to WFH can take some getting used to. The office – with its meeting rooms and opportunities for interaction – is a prime set-up for brainstorming, which simply can’t be replicated when working from home. Virtual office services can be a great way to ease into your hybrid work model. When a regular Zoom call just won’t suffice for an important collaboration session, utilizing a professional meeting space regularly can be just what your team needs to tackle large problems and keep camaraderie alive. A good virtual office provider will offer robust technology like Zoom Rooms Video Conferencing, allowing for a productive and higher-level collaboration experience if all team members are unable to be there in-person.
An effective hybrid work model represents a good balance between WFH and time in the office. Leveraging virtual office services could be a way to optimize your WFH routine and serve as a great compliment to your new workstyle.
Thinking about switching your WFH routine to a hybrid work model? Check out the virtual office services we provide at nearly 1,000 locations around the globe.