If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that there is less of a need to have a physical office presence.  With companies and their employees being forced to make use of technologies such as video calling and virtual task management tools, coming into the office is becoming less of a necessity. As such, more companies are deciding to opt for a virtual office. 

So what is a virtual office? 

In short, a virtual office is a service offered to companies  that allows its employees and business owners to work remotely via the internet. A virtual office will usually provide a company with a few basic services and these generally include:

  • A business postal address
    This helps businesses seem a little more prestigious as they can have a postal address in a more desirable area without having to pay for a premium office space.  
  • A receptionist
    This helps if you are arranging meetings in and around your virtual office because it makes that virtual office seem a little less virtual to your customers and business colleagues.
  • Envelope opening and scanning service
    If you’re getting mail sent to an address that you are not, this is a great service where you can get all the posts scanned and emailed over to you so you can stay on top of your admin.
  • Phone answering and voicemail services
    This just simply helps you manage your incoming calls and means that you don’t have to offer out your personal mobile, instead use a real landline number that makes you more professional. 

This new working style does have some welcome benefits. It has suddenly given workers flexibility and freedom that has not been afforded before in the same way. Employees are afforded the opportunity to work in an environment that suits them, be it working from home or from a business center, and allows them to enjoy certain ‘home comforts’. Casual clothing can be worn every day and during breaks, employees can just veg out on the sofa, and there is no longer a long commute to work each day. This is definitely a viable option for smaller businesses, consultants, or people who work for themselves. They can enjoy the perks of having an office without being tied down to one physical space.

With that being said, virtual offices do have their drawbacks. The virtual office is not for every company. There is no doubt that technology has made communication a lot easier, email, texting, and video-conferencing is just not the same as face-to-face chat or in-person conversations.

Businesses that necessitate meetings, personal interactions and collaborative environments where daily physical interactions to get the work done, especially client-service businesses will find the constraints of a virtual office difficult. It is also worth bearing in mind that having a physical location communicates a sense of permanence and professionalism that is not possible with a virtual office. 

What’s more, feelings of being disconnected, lack of opportunities to learn from colleagues and in some cases, an increase in workload are all very serious potential downsides to virtual offices.. There is also the problem that for many people right now, working from home measures means that there is no distinction from work-home life and therefore turns the home into an office. There is no escaping it. For some people and for certain businesses, a virtual office is simply not feasible. 

To answer, ‘Is a virtual office good for business?’ is really down to the type of company you have. Whilst there are clear advantages of both a virtual and traditional office, if you are a dynamic, socially interactive company, then having a virtual office can be difficult. 

So whilst a virtual office is simply not a possibility for some, managers and company owners may want to consider moving towards a hybrid working environment that incorporates elements of both.
For more information about office spaces in Dubai, contact our CRC consultants.