Replacing “Brick & Mortar” with a Virtual Office
The traditional boundaries of office-based work no longer apply in modern-day business. Any forward-thinking company should be looking at ways to integrate a virtual office environment (or part thereof) to maximize their competitive advantage. We are by no means saying a virtual office will work for every business out there, however in our experience, there are certain business aspects that have been more effective since adopting this model.
As an established digital agency operating for 12 years, it was only a matter of time before we began our journey towards a fully virtual office environment. Although we were very accustomed to working online already given our field of expertise, the move was quite an adjustment. While there are clear pros and cons for both working models, the pros working virtually we have experienced thus far, have outweighed the pros of our traditional office space. Here is what we have experienced thus far for the past few months:
SAVINGS IN OPERATIONAL COSTS
We experienced an immediate cost saving on previously painful overheads such as our lease agreement for office space. Along with this we no longer need to service the utilities (lights & water) that come with having our own office space. There was also a slight financial abatement in our insurance policies.
The virtual office has provided the company with more flexibility from the top-down. This allows us to react to market change timeously and with greater efficiency.
Since we can no longer rely on “looking over our employee’s shoulders” we have introduced sophisticated project collaboration tools to assist in monitoring employee productivity. These tools keep things organized and prioritize all outstanding projects in a fun, flexible and rewarding way.
Overall our team is experiencing a better work/life balance working on flexi-time and not having to brave the morning traffic. We do however still find it essential for the team to get face-to-face time at least twice a week to ensure there is no lack of cohesiveness within the company. This usually takes place at a centrally located co-working space.
Given our clients are now aware of the adoption of the virtual business model, we find scheduling meetings and communication has improved dramatically. We have managed to weed out any potential communication-related issues both internally as well as with our clientele. We have also promoted the use of free voice calling/instant messaging platforms to ensure the team stays connected and always informed.
A FAMOUS SUCCESS STORY
Amazon is a great example of a company gaining a significant strategic advantage over its competition through its virtual model. Competitors such as Borders who had over 600 retail outlets at the time were simply unable to compete with Amazon’s low prices, huge selection and free shipping. Amazon is now one of the most famous virtual retailers out there with over 566,400 full and part-time employees with in excess of $178 billion in annual revenue (2017).
Some businesses will be more suited to a virtual office than others. Take time to carefully evaluate your business for strategic fit. If you are looking at a large workforce, there needs to be a sophisticated top-down plan as to how best to implement the virtual office. In addition to this there should be extensive training on any required platforms across the various departments. In some cases, a transition period may also be required to ease in to the model successfully.