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In today’s world, where small businesses are facing stiff competition, traditional offices are getting costlier to procure & maintain, more and more people are considering the option of working from a virtual office because of the sheer flexibility and reduced cost. Let us review the options. Working from a virtual office has some unique advantages. To start with, you can cut down all of the overhead of having an office, e.g.,
- Utilities & municipal expenses
- Canteen expenses
- Stationary expenses
- Equipment & Furniture
Many successful small business owners say that they are more productive from their home office. There are many reasons – one of the primary ones being, absence of the usual “office gossip”. Then you have the added time you earn as you don’t need to commute. This gives you the added freedom – remember one of those days you wished you could stay back home with your unwell son without affecting work? Working from a virtual office allows you the opportunity to dedicate more quality time for your children and family.
But first, you need to make sure you know if working out of a virtual office is going to work for you.
To start with, how social are you? It is indeed easy to “get used to” the inter-personnel communication & direct-contact collaboration in a conventional office scenario. Working in your living room all day long can suddenly make you miss it. If you’re very social and love to work with people around, the quiet of your virtual office from home may drive you nuts. Many virtual office workers are family-people, but singles may feel terribly cut-off in such a scenario. Give it a thought – can you conduct your business or carry out your responsibilities without face-to-face contact with coworkers, clients or the public? If not, you will probably need to make do with the option of a conventional office.
Next: Have you set your expectations right? Some people believe, albeit wrongly, that a virtual office will allow you start work after noon. Sorry pal, that won’t work if you want to see some success in this strategy. Definitely, you will have a lot of flexibility, but if you allow yourself to misuse the freedom, you might not be able to stay in the competition. There are a few things that need getting used to. Truth is, the “flexibility” you enjoy from a virtual office may be at times more stressful than you imagined – as your clients and co-workers located remotely may expect you to be available all the time, even for extended odd hours.
Again, does your living conditions allow you create a virtual office around you? In order to accommodate a virtual office work style, you might basically need a computer to start with – but you may also need reliable internet connectivity, or multiple internet connectivity options (so that if one fails, you have another option ready), power back-up, scanner, printers, fax, phone conferencing & recording gear and so on. A quiet corner of your home has to be earmarked to set up the virtual office, especially if you have a family with kids around. You sure won’t want non-office-like noise around you during the day. Household chores may be a hard-to-resist constant distraction, when you would rather procrastinate, getting that sales report out. Discuss with your family – it would be difficult for them to appreciate that just because you’re home may not mean that you are “available”. Shutting your office door to enforce office hours might need some time to go down well.
So is virtual office the right option for you? Be honest with yourself and ask the mirror. And if you are still undecided, ask some friends you trust.