Since remote work is becoming the new normal, with over 16% of global companies working fully remotely and 63% of high-growth companies adopting a hybrid work model, the need for alternatives to physical office space is on the rise.
Virtual offices are seen as the next step in the remote work revolution, providing a more centralized and organized way to manage a remote workforce.
The many advantages of virtual offices range from a more diverse and globalized workforce with robust company culture to increased flexibility and financial savings.
To understand how a virtual office membership can benefit your business, let's first look at what a virtual office is and what it entails.
What is a virtual office?
A virtual office is an alternative to a traditional, physical office space. It offers your remote team a virtual space to build your headquarters, meet up, work, and collaborate as if you were there in person.
To understand what a virtual office is, imagine a virtual middle ground between working in a physical office and operating only by means of popular communication software such as Teams, Zoom, and the bunch.
A virtual office combines the best of both worlds.
But it's better to show and not tell. See what a fully customizable virtual office has to offer by signing up for Kosy — no credit card required.
What is the difference between a virtual office and a virtual office address?
The term "virtual office" is often used interchangeably with "virtual office address."
However, they are two distinct services.
A virtual office address is usually a part of some wider virtual office packages that can provide your company with a physical business address, a mailing address, reception, phone, and voicemail services, and conference rooms situated in a brick-and-mortar space.
These services come with a membership fee, and the big advantage is that they can be used on-demand, as needed. But on the other hand, you can often be met with restricted access to desks and meeting rooms, hidden fees, and scheduling conflicts, while still having to find a way to work and collaborate remotely.
A virtual office, otherwise known as a virtual workspace, is a comprehensive remote work solution that can provide your company with all the benefits of a physical office, without the need for an actual, physical space.
You sign up using your email address and receive a dedicated, customizable, and secure place for your team to work online, collaborate, and see each other, whether they're working from home, on the road, or anywhere in between.
Virtual office vs. communication software
Some people might wonder what is the point of getting a virtual office if their remote workers are already using communication software such as Teams or Zoom?
While communication software is absolutely essential for any remote team, it only covers one aspect of working together online — namely, messaging and calls.
A virtual office, on the other hand, gives people who are working remotely from all over the world a place to not only communicate but also to build company culture, team spirit, and see each other on a daily basis.
It allows you to create an office environment where you can see if someone is in a meeting or on lunch break, gather around the table in a conference room, synchronously collaborate, share files, and more.
For companies and small businesses who are only starting out or recently transitioned to a remote working model, virtual offices provide them with a place for employees to get to know each other, streamline workflow, and avoid the pitfalls of working from home.
Benefits of a virtual office
There are many benefits of using a virtual office, both for businesses and employees.
So let's look at the 14 ways a virtual office can benefit your remote team.
While employees who work remotely have been time and time again reported to be more productive, some companies still feel the need to monitor their work.
It is often cited to be done in order to determine productivity increases and find rule breakers. But all it does is breed toxic company culture and erode trust — in your business, management, and each other.
A virtual office offers you an easy insight into where your employees are, whether it is a meeting room, a focus room, or a lobby. Visualizing your team's location in the virtual office space can ease the anxiety of not being able to see them without resorting to micromanagement.
And your team will be able to focus on their job without feeling like they're stuck in the panopticon of corporate surveillance.
Better work-life balance
A study from Polycom Inc. surveyed over 25,000 employees and found that 3 in 4 workers believe remote work to be helping with their work/life balance.
However, many employees that work remotely find being always "on" difficult, often getting work emails and messages off the clock. Communication that is supposed to be asynchronous can quickly turn into an expectation of round-the-clock availability.
While a virtual office can be used as sporadically or as often as you like, it provides employees with a place to actually show when they are working by entering the office, as well as when they are done for the day by leaving it signaling that your email can wait another day.
The same study into the effects of remote working revealed that everyone "across the board, from CEOs to junior-level staff" was more productive.
This is likely due to a variety of reasons, including the lack of commute, more relaxed work-from-home policies, and being able to focus on specific goals.
In a virtual office, you can further increase productivity by building an environment that is conducive to productivity with meeting rooms, private offices, and all the important documents aggregated in one place.
Improved employee retention rates
It's no secret that happy employees lead to a successful business.
By providing your employees with a virtual office space, you're giving them a place to call their own within the company, which can lead to increased job satisfaction and a sense of ownership.
It's a much better alternative to the faceless "workspace" that many remote employees have to face every day.
A flexible work schedule is one of the most important factors when it comes to employee satisfaction.
Moreover, according to the Gartner 2021 Digital Worker Experience Survey, 43% of respondents said that flexibility in working hours helped them achieve greater productivity.
The lack of insight employers have into their remote worker's activities may dissuade them from granting everyone flexible hours.
But with virtual offices, everyone can work the hours that suit them while still making their presence known — with avatars spread out around the office, customized status updates, and availability badges.
Enhanced company culture
The same study also revealed an interesting statistic: out of the pool of 800 U.S. executives, 2 out of 3 believed workers may soon quit their jobs because of how disconnected they feel. Furthermore, 90 percent of them also said culture and connection are lacking for their remote team members.
The ability to build strong company culture is one of the core benefits of virtual offices for remote teams.
With its customizable virtual spaces and features, you can create an office that reflects your company's culture and values, and encourages collaboration, trust, and communication.
How? Just follow the guidelines in this guide, and you'll be able to see the results for yourself.
A study from Stanford University showed that the mere feeling of working together allowed participants to stick to their tasks 64% longer than solitary workers.
A virtual office is perfect for helping each individual team member visualize how the whole team is working together, striving to achieve common goals.
But that's not all.
With multiple customization options, assets, and tools at your disposal, you can create a virtual collaborative environment where your team can work together on projects in real time, using features like shared whiteboards, app integration, instant video conferencing, and multiple screen-sharing.
In a physical office, team-building is often an afterthought. It's something that happens organically as employees mingle and socialize in the office space.
But with remote teams, this isn't always possible. Remote companies might hold meetings and events, but they can often feel forced, and not all employees will be able to participate.
In contrast, 72% of remote teams feel less lonely after using Kosy virtual office.
After all, a virtual office creates opportunities for your team to bond and build relationships all on its own.
Being able to relax in the pool together, eat lunch, or chat without running into scheduling conflicts helps your team members get to know each other, organically and without it feeling awkward.
According to Remote Work Culture Insights 70% of workers don't feel like they are able to socialize enough when working remotely.
And it's no surprise.
Without an actual office — without its watercoolers, lobbies, and cafeteria — remote employees may feel reluctant to engage in small talk or build relationships.
But with a virtual office, your remote employees can navigate the space as avatars, chat by a virtual watercooler, and take breaks in the cafeteria, lobby, or pool — all it takes is to come up to someone to activate the spatial chat feature.
This way, you can create a remote work environment that feels more human and connected, without sacrificing the productivity that comes with working from home.
No commute time
Here's a sad statistic: the average US commute time to and from work is 52.2 minutes a day. To top it off, the average American loses 408 days of their life commuting. Not to mention the commuting costs and carbon footprint.
Is it any wonder that the length of the commute is directly linked to job satisfaction? Or that nearly 1 in 2 people (48%) stated they'd quit their job unless their company adopted a hybrid or remote work model?
Bringing your business to a virtual office can help you unburden your employees of this daily time-suck while keeping all the aspects of having a physical office space around.
Reduced overhead costs
Think of a traditional office. Now think of the rent, the terms of your office lease, utility payments, cleaning and maintenance fees, office furniture, and equipment, not to mention the cost of stocking the kitchen with snacks and drinks.
A daunting and not at all cost-effective prospect for a small business.
Now compare that to a virtual office. The only recurring costs you'll have are the monthly membership fees, which is a laughably low cost compared to traditional office rental rates.
This allows you to save money and invest it into what really matters — growing your business.
Imagine this. You've got your traditional office space, your team works hard, you've built your business reputation and your company is growing. You hire more employees to join your business and suddenly you're out of space.
You've got two options — either find a new office that can accommodate your team or keep everyone cramped up in the same small space.
With a virtual office, you don't have to worry about this at all.
As your company grows, you can simply add more users to your account, and build more virtual rooms and meeting spaces and they'll have access to all the features and amenities that your current employees do.
No need to find a new office or sign a new lease.
Improved information flow
According to Panopto, employees on average waste 5.3 hours a week waiting for information that will enable them to work.
This is often the case with remote teams, where there can be a disconnect between team members and multiple communication tools that ultimately gets vital information lost in translation.
Virtual offices can help with this by providing a centralized hub for all your company's information. Take Kosy virtual workspace, for example. Not only does it come with dedicated channels, group and private chats, and pinned rooms, but it also allows you to come up to your fellow colleague and ask the important questions — just like in a real office.
According to research, a negative onboarding experience makes new employees twice as likely to look for other opportunities.
Oftentimes, companies mistake "onboarding" for "orientation", failing to make the new hire feel like part of the team and thus missing out on retaining the best talent in their workforce.
Virtual office spaces can help with this by providing a space for new employees to be welcomed and integrated into the team from day one. They can see their new colleagues, learn about the company culture, and get a feel for how the team works together.
The right virtual office for your team
Kosy is the perfect virtual office tool for companies that want to increase their productivity and build a strong company culture. It combines all the virtual office benefits we've discussed into one easy-to-use platform.
Kosy gives you all the features you need to build a virtual office that works for you, including:
- fully customizable rooms
- multiple communication channels
- the ability to navigate and interact with the environment
- the ability to share, pin, and collaborate on documents & apps
- proximity chat & multiple screen-sharing
Plus, you can use Kosy for free forever with up to 5 team members. So what are you waiting for? Start building your virtual office today!