71% of millennials believe that traditional offices will be replaced with most positions being done remotely by 2030 (source: Zapier).
So it’s no surprise that virtual offices have increasingly become a popular alternative for startups, small businesses, and individuals.
In this article, you’ll find a list of 21 benefits and limitations for virtual offices.
Whether you’re interested in opening a new location, or simply researching, you will walk away with a better understanding of how you can leverage a virtual office for your business.
21 Virtual Office Benefits and Disadvantages
Table of Contents
What is a virtual office?
A virtual office is a service that allows companies to work remotely while still maintaining a presence in a specific area without having to pay physical rent (source: HubbleHQ).
Virtual offices can provide a wide range of features, such as a mailing address, a receptionist, phone and voicemail services, printing and fax services, and even meeting rooms and coworking desks.
Virtual office advantages
1. Get a real business address
A business address gives remote companies an opportunity to establish a physical presence, and polish their professional image. You can use it on company documents, website, or anywhere else you need it. It also allows you to receive mail or packages.
Photo credits: Curbed SF
2. Build a presence in a new location
Establishing a virtual office allows you to build a presence pretty much anywhere in the world, without having to pay for all the operating expenses of a brick-and-mortar space (think about lease, utility payments, repairs, business insurance, etc).
3. Enjoy flexible terms
Unlike traditional office spaces, most virtual office providers charge their members on a month-to-month basis. That gives you the flexibility to opt out whenever you want to.
4. Pay only for what you need
Virtual office providers usually offer different sets and combinations of services to choose from. That includes business address, mail receipt and forwarding, phone answering, and even conference rooms booking or access to a desk.
With a wide variety of membership plans to choose from, you’re making sure that you are only paying for what your company needs now.
5. Set it up quickly and easily
Setting up a virtual office is usually fast and easy because it’s all done online.
And unlike office space rental, it requires almost no paperwork.
If you were looking at expanding in the US, you could literally sign up for a virtual office membership now and have a business address you can use at the end of the day (Side note: At Runway, you’d be able to use our Twitter building location right after having sent us a copy of a business document showing company name and mail forwarding address, and your CEO’s state issued photo ID).
6. Decrease company overhead
Forget about office lease, hardware costs, utility payments, and all the other associated costs that come with the rent of a physical office space.
7. Save time on commuting
Did you know that 25% of knowledge workers find their commute to be among the most stressful parts of their job (source: Zapier)?
By working remotely, you’ll be able to get those hours back. Use them to increase productivity at work, tap into your hobbies, or even get some extra sleep.
8. Increase your productivity
42% of knowledge workers believe they are most productive working from home, compared to 32% who feel they get more done in an office (source: Zapier).
9. Access to global talent
From a hiring perspective, having a virtual office allows you to tap into a wider talent pool you may not have access to otherwise.
First, think about talent relocation costs. Second, did you know that 74% of knowledge workers would be willing to quit a job to work remotely (source: Zapier)?
By offering this option to job candidates, you’re improving the attractiveness of your company.
10. Benefit from autonomy and flexibility
32% of remote workers see the ability to have a flexibility schedule as the biggest benefit of remote work (source: Buffer). As you work remotely, you will have the ability to structure your day and work around your own schedule.
11. Focus on health, fitness and overall wellness
As mentioned previously, you’ll be saving more time by eliminating your commute to work.
You can repurpose some of that extra time to weave in a workout, meditate, prepare a nice, home-cooked meal, or even all three!
Virtual office disadvantages
12. Hidden fees
Many virtual office space providers offer attractive rates that often end up being a bit far away from what you will end up paying.
For example, if you want your mail forwarded monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly, you’ll have to pay a fee that increases respectively. If they are charging an extra $20 for weekly forwarding, that’s an extra $80 per month spent on mail forwarding alone.
13. Not many all-inclusive options
Few virtual office providers offer all-inclusive options where you get to see exactly what your membership gives you access to.
14. Unforeseen technical difficulties
Since you are working remotely, your personal technology is what you use and rely on.
If you have technical issues that last more than a few hours or even days, you won’t be able to do any work until it’s fixed.
15. Restricted access to desks and conference rooms
Most offices and workplaces are open Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm. That means you won’t be able to access them on nights, weekends, or even holidays.
16. Potential scheduling conflicts with conference rooms
There’s a possibility that you won’t always have a conference room to use at the snap of your fingers.
You have to book your conference room in advance to guarantee your spot. As more people open virtual offices, scheduling could be a bit difficult if you don’t have your meetings and appointments planned ahead of time.
17. Lack of social interaction
20% of remote workers claim that “loneliness” is their biggest struggle (source: Buffer)
Although employees will be able to communicate virtually and electronically, nothing can replace the connections made with in-person social interaction.
18. Harder to build a strong team bond
Since your team will not physically be together during the work week, it will be harder to achieve a tight-knit bond.
With that being said, team building activities such as virtual bagel breakfasts and happy hours may seem small but they can make a huge difference with team dynamics.
19. Loneliness can negatively impact performance
According to this study, lonelier employees received weaker performance ratings from their supervisors.
The study revealed that alienation can cause lonely employees to feel less committed to their work and also be left out of the social and business loop.
20. Difficult to manage accountability
As a manager, of course you want to give each employee the benefit of the doubt when issues arise. Occasionally, you may question if their internet is actually down or if they are just planning to coast by for the day.
Since you aren’t with them physically, there’s no real way to know for sure aside from word of mouth and honesty.
21. Employees may struggle creating a separation between work and life
The line between work and life easily gets blurred when working remotely.
And as there’s no difference in location, it can be more difficult to unplug at the end of the day. In fact, 18% of remote workers struggle with unplugging at the end of the work day (source: Buffer).
Defining a clear separation between work and life is important for employees to maintain stress levels, satisfaction, and productivity.
How to pick the right virtual office
Here are some quick and actionable tips to help you choose the right virtual office…
1. Identify your business stage and assess your needs
Make a list of what aspects of virtual office benefits are most relevant to you and your company. The must-have (you couldn’t live without these), and the nice-to-haves (enjoyable but not critical).
A company based outside of the U.S. will use in-office benefits such as workspace and conference rooms on occasion. But that company will likely be more interested in guidance for U.S. market entry.
On the other hand, a local company might use a virtual office to have a real business address and hold meetings with clients and partners on-site.
A venture capital firm that is not local but still located in the U.S. will use a virtual office as a home base for meetings without having to open up a new office.
2. Inquire about extra fees
Clarify what your virtual office membership includes and excludes. Some basic memberships will advertise a low starting price. But that will likely exclude some specific benefits you actually care about. And that will end up costing you much more than what you were initially quoted.
3. Pick a flexible option
Lastly, when choosing a virtual office, make sure it is flexible enough to adapt to your needs. As your business grows, what you need today is likely different from what you will end up needing tomorrow.
For example, you might eventually need access to coworking desks and meetings rooms. Which of your options has the capacity for that?
Are you looking for a virtual office in San Francisco?
If you’re looking to build a business presence in the US, at a fraction of what a full-time office would cost you, then open your all-inclusive virtual office with Runway today.
- Real business address in the Twitter building
- Mail forwarding and call answering
- Socially-distanced desks and conference rooms
- Personalized guidance to grow in the US (including quarterly programming about fundraising, scaling and entering the US market, and how to work with corporate partners)
- No commitment