So you want to work from home, but your growing business would benefit from having an upscale address? Hire a virtual office space! Simeon G Howard from City Office explains how they work, and why home working can save your business money.
What is a virtual office?
A virtual office is a physical business space that can be used only when companies require it. Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense for people to invest in a permanent office when the money can be better spent in other places. Virtual offices are typically located in impressive buildings and come with professional secretarial services, meeting rooms and use of the business address for mail correspondents. You use the address - let’s say in Mayfair, London - on your Business Cards, Mailing Labels, letterheads, and then the business centre get your mail and either hold it for collection or forward it onto you. It’s the same as working from a fancy office building except you don’t have to commute!
How many people are working this way in the UK right now?
A recent report estimates that over 20 percent of all UK workers – around 6.5 million people - are working from home this year. A separate report by LM Research, that surveyed over 5,000 UK business owners, suggests that 60 percent of all office workers will be working from their own home within the next decade. This is the direction the world of business is heading in, and virtual offices are just one of the many ways they will get there.
So virtual offices aren’t just for small businesses?
No - the amount of money that can be saved by having employees telecommute is so significant that large corporations can’t ignore it. A recent article in BusinessWeek said that businesses can save as much as £8000 a year for every employee that works from home. Large companies are also using virtual offices when branching out into new markets, to help their business grow.
Won’t working from home make my new company look small?
Absolutely not; that is one of the biggest perks of using a virtual office. From every angle your business will appear to be just as large as your competitors. You can hold your meetings at the office, have packages shipped to your business address and all of your phone calls will be answered at the office and forwarded to you.
You can also access services and equipment without requiring the business to invest in printers, conference phone lines or photocopiers. This is the philosophy of virtual offices; instead of employees commuting to large corporations, it is small business owners using their office only when it’s needed.
Do you have any tips for people new to working remotely?
It’s easy to go insane the first time you work from your own home. People are really used to having the home/work divide and are not mentally prepared to be in ‘work mode’ while in their own house, which can make it tough to be really productive right off the bat. A lot of people like to telecommute part time until they get the feel of it, but if that’s not an option you can always go to a coffee house or library, someplace more structured, until you figure out how to be productive.
Also, ask friends and family not to treat you as they would at the weekends. Most people still don’t understand that even though you’re at home you’re really at work and if you begin doing chores or having non-business related conversations when you’re supposed to be working it could reduce productivity.