Our friends over at www.findmyworkspace.com take us on a tour of the differences between digital offices and traditional office spaces.
Twenty years ago, location was the most important factor contributing to a business’ success. An accessible and presentable physical location was absolutely essential. In fact, marketers would warn you to forget about starting your own business if you couldn’t secure a good location for your organization.
Times have changed since then. Location is still crucial for certain industries (e.g. retail, restaurants, etc.). But there are some types of businesses now that can successfully operate without a physical office. Thus, the terms “digital office” or “virtual office” have been coined.
A virtual office is a business address that exists only in cyberspace. The use of technology such as laptop, cellphones and internet connection allows entrepreneurs and their team to conduct their business from any location. Meetings can be conducted via Skype, Viber, Join.Me or other video conferencing software. Documents can be transmitted via email, Google docs or the use of online team management softwares such as Asana or Basecamp.
This setup provides cost savings and more flexibility to business owners compared to renting a traditional office space.
Some companies even provide the use of a physical address, ideally in a prestigious business location; a receptionist to answer calls and an actual front desk to receive hard copies of documents. Physical office space and conference rooms may be also available for rent, when the occasion calls for it.
Now that we’ve studied a bit of background about virtual offices and how they work, we look at the distinct differences and advantages / disadvantages of a digital office versus a traditional office space.
Costs. Definitely, operating a digital office is much more affordable compared to a traditional office space. This can help you set aside your funds for use in the business or investments. Or you can save the money now and then rent a place in a nice business district, when the time is right.
Renting or leasing a physical office space might require a big chunk of your monthly budget. Contracts usually require a minimum of 6 months to at least one year. For needed equipment and tools, you will need to invest more in a traditional office space for your and your team’s use.
In terms of financial costs, virtual office is the clear winner.
Physical location. Having a physical location can project more trust and credibility with clients and business partners. Your office provides a tangible venue on where you can meet with different people and where you can showcase your company’s vision and products.
Entrepreneurs with no physical office space need to rent a meeting room or meet with clients in coffee shops or restaurants. This means less control on the vibe and privacy of the location. Pictures of your products may not be as appealing as actual product samples that individuals can touch and hold.
For physical location, traditional office spaces hold the upper hand.
Flexibility. Want to work from home? Want to maximize your productive hours while being able to take care of your personal errands too?
There is much less fuss in working from a virtual office. It allows you more flexibility on tailoring your working hours (especially when you’re dealing with overseas clients or employees in different time zones) and meeting locations for the client’s convenience. A commute-less working day is a very nice bonus, as you might not have to spend any time in rush hour traffic.
In a physical office, hours are usually less flexible. There’s also a chance that some business partners might find your office location inaccessible or unattractive.
A digital office takes the cake in terms of flexibility.
Culture. Having all employees in one physical workplace can foster better teamwork and camaraderie. This can also strengthen your company identity more than having remote employees you don’t get to interact with personally.
If you are an extrovert who requires a certain dose of human interaction daily, having regular social interactions can improve your work motivation and productivity. If your team is new or fairly new, having a common workspace might be an advantage as you can keep track of your employees’ work output and productivity.
A virtual office with remote team members might be more challenging to manage. You might not get the chance to know the work style of your staff or influence the person’s mindset to fit your desired culture.
If you are dedicated to building your unique organization culture, a traditional office space is the way to go.
In deciding on your office space, which of the above pro’s and con’s are the non-negotiables for you? Only you know what is best for your company.
Gemma Reeves is a seasoned writer who enjoys creating helpful articles and interesting stories. She has worked with several clients across different industries such as advertising, online marketing, technology, healthcare, family matters, and more. She is also an aspiring entrepreneur who is engaged in assisting other aspiring entrepreneurs in finding the best office space for their business.
Check out her company here: FindMyWorkspace