An answer to a question that didn’t even exist at the turn of the century.
The nature of work is changing. What used to depend on people being present in a dedicated office space has transformed into a working style that is based around virtual offices, freedom, flexibility, and a reliable Wi-Fi signal.
The last fifteen years has gifted the world with exciting progressions in technology – the smartphone, social media, instant messaging platforms, the cloud, cyber security, and the tablet – which have not only made our lives more connected than ever, they’ve impacted the way we work.
With technology connecting us from anywhere – and the ever-present pursuit of obtaining that coveted work-life balance – new generations are rethinking the traditional office space and are tossing out terms like remote, telecommute, and virtual to describe the growing trend of working or operating a business from home or a virtual office space.
The CEO of Upwork (formerly named oDesk) believes that by 2020, one third of people working throughout North America will be doing so online – and the trend is not limited to tech start-ups. Stats shared by uSamp indicate that even government workers increasingly work remotely, with 70% of federal employees reporting occasional office hours.
Now, when it comes to elevating your side hustle – taking the baby of a business you’ve created into a new territory – you may think that investing in an office space is the logical next step. But what if we abandon that instinct?
Virtual Offices Are the New Black
One of the many benefits enjoyed by remote workers is that they get to work from anywhere; their living room, local coffee shops, the cottage, or from an entirely different country. But if you’re someone who wants to grow your side hustle, and your professional authority, you’ll likely want a little more than that, at least sometimes, to ground and add legitimacy to your budding business.
Enter, the virtual office.
If you haven’t heard much about the concept of virtual offices, that’s okay. They’re not exactly ubiquitous and, while the concept has been around for more than a few years now, there are many businesses that are still hesitant to adopt the model.
Virtual offices are not makeshift spaces where people set up their laptops, grab a coffee, and plug in their headphones for the day; they are professional productivity zones that provide a lot more to small and large business owners than just a Wi-Fi connection and a comfortable chair.
The virtual office notion is gaining momentum, and here’s why.
Save Money with A Virtual Office
When people commit to a virtual office, they’re aligning themselves with all the benefits of a traditional office – boardrooms, private offices, receptionists or assistants, refreshments, scanners and printers, a business mailing address, video conferencing – but without all the overhead costs and pressure for employees to show up to an office every day.
Virtual offices typically require a modest membership fee – that is significantly less money than any leased or owned office space – and saves you additional costs on commuting, salaries or wages paid out to customer service or administrative workers, office supplies such as paper and toner, and utilities such as hydro, water, and high-speed Internet.
Meet Other Like-Minded Entrepreneurs
When formal business, such as meetings or interviews, need to be conducted, virtual offices provide a professional environment where you can invite clients and stakeholders. It also acts as a hub for receiving business correspondence, such as mail and packages. Most places will even take the time to open and digitize your mail to let you view it from anywhere, even if you’re traveling.
Best of all, a virtual office is a place where many people gather, from those who operate in the gig economy, those under contract, and those who work for themselves. Members connect with other budding entrepreneurs who can help one another build their side hustles into profitable businesses. These connections are valuable to any growing operation, and they come easily by just choosing a virtual office as their domain.
Nowadays, turning your side hustle into a fully operational business is as easy as signing up for a membership to any local virtual office hub. Many Canadian cities, including Ottawa, have centers located in central or downtown hot-spots, or – like Collab Space – in more accessible neighbourhoods, offering additional perks like free parking, shorter commutes, and ease of navigation for clients.
Virtual offices give entrepreneurs the freedom to work from wherever, but they’re also given a reliable place to set up shop if they want to meet with colleagues or boost their productivity.
If you think that a virtual office might work for you and your small business, visit Collab Space any Friday at 1 pm for a tour and rundown of what we can offer.