Technology has made it possible to start your business at home and run it online. Entrepreneurs often take advantage of the ability to work from a ‘virtual office,’ which could be your home, a quiet park or library, or rented office space at a coworking agency.
After all, with many businesses’ operations taking place entirely or mostly online, it only makes sense to set up shop virtually and begin making money without leasing commercial office space. But is there a stigma around a business that only operates online and has no brick and mortar location? Can you realistically handle your business and technology needs from home or a remote location?
These are all questions we will consider as we compare the two: The virtual office vs. the traditional office.
Virtual offices vs. Traditional offices
Virtual Office: The Pros
More cost efficient
It certainly costs less to work from a virtual office vs. a traditional office space. Without the added cost of leasing commercial property, you can concentrate your finances where you need them most.
And if a virtual office seems right for you now but you suspect you’ll want to move into a physical location down the road, it’s a great way to save some money while you work on growing your business. Then, when the time comes to move into a physical location, you’ll be ready!
Things are more flexible when you work from a virtual office. Like the A/C turned all the way down to 59 degrees? That’s fine. Want to eat leftover garlic shrimp for lunch–with pesto pasta on the side? No problem. And if you need to go without a certain resource for a week or two, a virtual office enables you to do it without affecting others in the office.
You can sleep in or start early, whenever you choose. When you work from a virtual office, there is no commute, so you can say goodbye to the wasted hour and half you’d spend just being on your way to or from work. Use it to get more sleep or get an early jump on work each day!
Easier on the environment
Without the hour and a half commute you eliminate the gas and oil required to get you there and back and the wear and tear on your car. Also, no physical location means no additional garbage from other employees, less paper, and more. Working from a virtual office is a lot easier on the environment than working from a traditional office.
Traditional Office: The Pros
Physical location=Customer trust
Customers may be more likely to trust businesses that have a physical location, although the condition, location, and style of the location may be the most important factors in deciding whether a traditional location can be trusted.
Seeing a physical address on your website can help customers feel more comfortable with your business, and it’s possible to rent a business address from a co-working agency or similar company.
Built-in place to meet with clients
You won’t have to worry about scheduling time at a rented meeting space or hold your meeting in a noisy restaurant. Traditional offices include meeting space within them, making your interactions with clients seem more professional and giving them a look at your business from the inside.
Virtual Office: The Cons
No physical location
Not having a physical location is a con for a couple reasons: No address, no place to store your work-related things, no place to meet with clients other than restaurants.
However, you could rent a meeting space from a co-working business near you. You could deliver a professional experience to your client without having to invite them into your home.
Your home might work well for being productive, handling clients, and running your business in general, but if you aren’t set up to handle the amount of work you’re doing from there, you will quickly run into issues.
Something as simple as having too many things plugged into one outlet could cause problems for both your home and your business.
Lack of social contact
Having a virtual office might mean you don’t get to talk to and see others as much as you used to or would with a physical office location. For some, this is a welcome change, but for others, social contact is a necessary and enjoyable part of work.
For this reason, some prefer working from co-working centers among other entrepreneurs, freelancers, and enterprise teams.
Traditional Office: The Cons
The location can turn people off
The best locations aren’t cheap, and the best of the best are very expensive. If you can’t afford to be in a great location, you risk looking unprofessional or out of your audience’s preferred brand type. It’s better to be in a virtual office until you can afford a location that will make your business look good.
Might not be necessary
Some industries don’t make sense in physical locations, while others don’t seem to be right for virtual-only offices. For example, when we see a physical location for an eBay store, it’s strange because we’re used to seeing things related to eBay only online.
If your business isn’t expected to be in a physical location, it might be an unnecessary expense.
The cost to lease commercial property is only increasing, and getting into a location that reflects positively on your business and is in a respected neighborhood will ensure you’re paying a high price to have a traditional office.
Running a business from home is much different from running a traditional office. With a traditional space, you’re more likely to need to hire in house help, and the little things about running an office can be a headache (don’t forget to order more paperclips and K-cups!).
And the winner is…
A virtual office is the best option for any business that wants to save money while concentrating on growth and planning for the future.
Traditional offices may be best for some industries that appeal to markets that don’t frequently use the internet, but for the most part, virtual offices provide the solutions small businesses need to give their customers and clients a satisfactory and professional experience.
What’s your take on the battle between a virtual office and traditional office? Which do you think provides more benefits for the average small business?
We’d love to hear your answers on Twitter! Find us @conrecept.
— Conversational (@Conrecept) February 19, 2016