If there is a silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic, we can find it in the raised awareness of the benefits of remote work. When state-wide and national shutdowns forced companies to get creative about how they do business and get work done, unexpected benefits arose from what was initially predicted to be an inconvenient shift in routine.
Now, with many companies choosing to have their employees work from their home offices permanently, contracting virtual office companies has begun to become the norm in remote work. Below, we will explore the benefits of remote work and how virtual offices can benefit the shift.
The case for remote work
By now, you may already know some of the more common reasons why companies are choosing to shift to remote office setups. These could include fewer sick days, eliminating weather closures, and other major hassles of on-site work. There are other lesser-known benefits, however, that we will discuss below.
A surprising benefit to remote office work is that employees are actually more productive when working at home than they are while working in the office. One theory behind this is that employees are more serious about time management and the desire to get their work done promptly so that they can enjoy the benefits of being at home at the same time.
Another theory is that employees can take much-needed breaks throughout the workday without feeling guilty or fearing being reprimanded for taking too much time away from their desks. When employees disengage and re-focus, they spend less time overall staring at blank screens or running circles around the mundane tasks of their day.
2. Larger talent pool
Working with a remote team gives you access to a much larger talent pool that not only includes professionals from any and all states within your country but from anywhere in the world. In addition, it allows you to capitalize on highly skilled workers who have no other choice but to work from home.
This includes those who are homebound by disability or other circumstances. It also includes seniors or retirees with decades of industry experience who want to keep working but don’t want to suffer traffic in the commute ever again.
It’s not uncommon for retirees to have difficulty making ends meet and to be constantly on the hunt for senior discounts or an extra source of income. By offering remote positions in your company, you can attract workers who could become invaluable to your company.
The point is that, by not working with remote employees, you may be costing yourself valuable talent by limiting the number of candidates you can recruit.
3. Business savings
Not having to pay rent or purchase a large office building means businesses have more money in their working funds. Additionally, not paying utilities or any other expense involved with operating an office building creates significant financial savings for the business.
These savings can be redistributed between departments, allowing for higher salaries, advertising, and marketing budgets, and even increased employee benefits packages. There are innumerable ways that these savings can provide lasting benefits to the business, helping create growth and success for years to come.
4. Employee savings & health
Working at home also provides daily savings to employees. Employees who work from home can spend less money on their wardrobe, gas costs, and even eating out for lunch or buying snacks from a vending machine. Eating healthy is much cheaper when you can eat from your kitchen.
Employees can also take several breaks throughout the day to make a quick walk around the block or take a conference call from the treadmill if they want. Not only does this benefit your employee's physical and financial well-being, but both of these things combined will also lead to higher emotional well-being. It’s a benefit that keeps rewarding over time.
[ Related: The employer's guide to employee wellness programs ]
5. Environmental impact
Not running utilities at a central workplace and not requiring dozens, if not hundreds, of people to drive to work daily also cuts down on your business’s environmental impact. Even small businesses can leave massive carbon footprints.
For example, consider a small call center with only thirty employees. Even though it’s a relatively small business, you still put thirty cars on the road at least twice a day. You might even have to add an occasional third trip if your employees choose to leave for lunch or a doctor or dentist appointment during the day.
By allowing these employees to work at home, you are actively helping prevent those carbon emissions.
6. Employee happiness
Employees are generally happier when they can work at home. They feel more comfortable in their home environments and deal with less workplace drama, which is unfortunately unavoidable in most office settings.
Similarly, employees can spend more time with pets and families, enjoying their background music, and creating a working environment that brings them happiness throughout the day.
7. Employee retention
Some studies have shown that the quit rate among remote workers lowers by as much as 50%; in other words, it seriously boosts employee retention. It is also estimated that hiring and training a new employee costs an average of around the $7,000 mark.
For these reasons, switching to remote work makes the most sense in terms of saving money on hiring and training new employees and keeping employees happy and willing to stay with the company for the long haul.
8. Space savings
If you’re running a tech company like a software development firm or a crypto apps business, you can usually get away with a 100% remote operation. But in some other cases, that’s not possible since in-person work is mandatory.
Even in those cases, you can save time and money by buying or renting a smaller place and having your office staff work from home. For example, if you run a signage company, you will still need space for manufacturing and storing the supplies you need to make signs. But, you can eliminate the need for office space by sending your desk-seated employees home to work remotely.
9. A more diverse workforce
We touched on how remote work brings disabled individuals into the fold. This is a great benefit to the company to be seen as a diverse workplace. However, remote work also helps add to cultural diversity and bridge the gender gap.
Many women struggle with office work, particularly mothers of young children. Even in 2022, childcare is still widely considered the mom’s job. If a child is sick and must stay home from school or daycare, a large percentage of the time, it’s usually the mom who has to skip work. Remote work helps women balance family life with work in an unprecedented way.
Similarly, opening up the area from which you hire your employees can also help you draw in people from many different cultural backgrounds that are not otherwise available within the immediate commute area of your office.
These benefits considered, there are still parts of in-office work that many companies still like and that they miss when transitioning to remote work. This is where virtual offices can help.
What is a virtual office?
Although virtual offices are newly in vogue as a trendsetting way of setting up remote work, they aren’t entirely new services. Virtual offices have actually been around for years, dating back to the nineties in some cases.
Just like any other service or product, though, the way virtual offices are offered and constructed has changed over time to adjust to the changing needs of their users. That said, virtual offices are B2B businesses that provide virtual addresses to receive postal mail (a.k.a., virtual business addresses) and services like mail-forwarding, phone services, and online networking solutions.
Types of virtual office services
Virtual offices offer services to remote workers that they would otherwise have to do without while working in a home office. These services can include anything from communication needs to co-working interaction and department networking.
While virtual offices can take any shape or form, there are five main types of virtual office offerings available on the market right now.
Business address & mail forwarding
One of the most common types of virtual offices is that of Business Address and Mail Forwarding solutions. This service offers companies a business mailing address they can use on business cards, online communications, and letterheads. Additionally, these companies will receive all postal mail on behalf of their clients and mail out any important documents or packages to any desired destination.
These addresses provide a point of contact with clients and customers in almost any city of their choice. This is especially helpful to companies that don’t have a mailroom at their home base to sort and deliver mail to individual employees.
This is also an ideal solution for companies with employees stationed at multinational locations or freelance companies and startups that are looking for a cheap solution to separate their business addresses from their homes without renting an actual office.
Virtual office & part-time workspace
This plan includes mail forwarding and a business address but also adds part-time access to a workspace. A workspace is a rentable space where you can work outside of the home for a few hours a week if you need a change of scenery or if you need to rent a conference room to have an in-person meeting with co-workers or clients.
Often, this virtual office solution will contract in tiers offering an increasing number of hours over a month’s time, with plans offering as few as eight hours a month all the way up to an average of 20 or more hours per week, depending on the individual needs of the business involved.
Coworking virtual office
Virtual offices are really centered around the traditional business model of in-person work. They simply tweak the needs of the business into unique offerings via an out-of-house platform.
Offering a coworking virtual office means offering a co-working space for employees to meet up regularly and work together in person. This is great for co-working groups that have to work together on hands-on projects or meet regularly to touch base about projects that are underway.
In some cases, these coworking spaces also offer amenities like gyms, childcare centers, and cafeterias. This makes them a nice change of pace compared to being stuck at home, especially for employees who are easily distracted by their home environments or who thrive in social settings.
A virtual address is an address based anywhere in the country that you can use for your business, with mail opening, scanning, forwarding, and shredding services included. These are great solutions for people running remote companies and who want to hide their home addresses. It’s also great for companies that don’t have a mailroom or the time to open and sort their own mail.
Instead, postal mail is scanned and delivered directly to your email inbox to be viewed and dealt with as it comes. You can even ask the virtual address service to sort out and destroy junk mail so you never even have to lay eyes on it.
Live receptionist & phone service
Having a live receptionist phone service means calls are answered and forwarded if needed, and messages are taken — all without anyone having to give out their personal address. Having a live receptionist also enhances customer satisfaction by having customers feel cared about and heard when they call and speak to a real person rather than an automated machine with endless prompts to find the individual they wish to speak to.
The bottom line on virtual office space
There may be other reasons for using a virtual office not listed here, depending on the type of work you do. However, these are by far the most common. These types of services can make a huge difference if you’re running a remote or hybrid workplace.
With many unexpected benefits of remote work having emerged through the trial-by-fire that was the COVID-19 pandemic, unique needs have also come up over time.
Thanks to technology, many of these needs can be met for a low cost by hiring a virtual office provider. These solutions will make remote work even more efficient so that companies can continue to reap the rewards and employees may continue to benefit from remote working set-ups.
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