Business and Technology: Virtual Office vs Traditional Office
Anyone with a business is truly aware that an office is a vital part to the success of the business. But when it comes to which type of office offers more benefits over the other, the battle rages on.
There are myriad reasons why some business owners are opting to make the big switch from the traditional setup to the virtual one. And those who would rather remain in the traditional environment rather than try the fresh, innovative approach have their own reasons.
This is largely because everyone has their own preference, just like in that old debate about manual versus automatic gearbox that will forever linger on. Furthermore, every business is run in its own style and so each operation has its preferred style of office setup.
What’s required is a good understanding of these two types of offices, and the advantages of each over the other. So please, sheathe your pitchforks and extinguish your torches. For you are about to be hit with a bout of knowledge.
Let’s first take a look at the most obvious upsides of each briefly, starting with the benefits of a virtual office.
One of the reasons virtual offices are quickly gaining traction across the globe is that they enable businesses of all sizes cut costs dramatically. This can come in countless forms, examples of which include: the lack of a need to lease or buy office space, freeing a business from the shackles of recurrent costs such as utilities, taxes, insurance, security, maintenance costs etc. whose effect is clearly apparent on the bottom line.
Virtual offices have also levelled the playing field by giving small businesses the chance to own a prestigious address smack in the middle of the CBD and other affluent locales, something that has been the preserve of large businesses.
What’s more, businesses that opt for virtual offices are assured of professional reception services (without maintaining someone on a monthly payroll) as well as a host of business amenities such as meeting and boardroom facilities, Internet connectivity, 24/7 voicemail, mail management, kitchen services et al, at such a reasonable cost that even sole entrepreneurs are able to afford the service.
We also can’t talk about virtual offices without mentioning aspects like reduced need for commuting, carbon footprint reduction and flexible working hours.
Now, let’s shifting gears to traditional offices.
For one, some businesses find it hard to allow for remote working of employees without a physical location their staff can report to every day. To them, a virtual office may not be ideal.
Both sides of the divide usually argue that each concept promotes more productivity. As for traditional office proponents, they debate the case in the line of improved teamwork when employees have to meet face-to-face, as well as better communication with minimal misunderstandings.
Another benefit where traditional offices carry the day is that they boast a ‘permanent’ physical address where clients can walk in anytime, thus building customer trust. While virtual offices also have this provision, it’s a lot easier to meet with clients in the former setup, or rather, for clients to meet you without having to schedule a meeting first.
Traditional offices may also be the way to go for large corporations that don’t need a shared office setup, although this can prove costly for small businesses, in financial speak.
One big drawback cited by many when it comes to virtual offices is that they lack that real social contact where you interact with colleagues everyday (in person). While this may not be your idea of a perfect workplace, there are those people who just can’t function alone and allude to social connection being the reason they enjoy their job.
When it comes to the downsides of traditional offices, the high costs associated with running a traditional brick-and-mortar stand out the most. In addition, depending on the location of your business, it could be off-putting to some clients which could get in the way of them wanting to do business with you.
We can’t also leave out the dreaded commuting and inflexible working hours, two of the chief reasons behind the massive shift to virtual offices and home-based businesses.
Of course, everyone will have something that works best for them.
If you subscribe to the traditional working hours school of thought, commuting may not be enough to make a traditional office setup unbearable for you. But if lowering business costs is top of your priorities, few options allow you to achieve this better than virtual offices.
Traditional office setups may be around for a while, but there is no doubt that as businesses evolve, ditto the culture of work and our way of life in general, virtual offices will be the way to go. They are the flexible, cost-effective and sustainable future.