Executive Suite or Virtual Office?
Can you run your business effectively with a virtual office - or should you opt for a flexible executive suite to keep your productivity on course? officebroker.com investigates...
Coffee houses can offer a stimulating work environment for virtual office users
When you're looking to grow your business, deciding whether to go down the executive suite or the virtual route can be a difficult decision. Each method offers its own advantages, which can ultimately boost business growth and help you make a success out of your enterprise.
A physical office is often the focal point required to bring a team together, and many people thrive on being in a busy environment surrounded by like-minded people.
On the other hand, with growing concern over the environment and in the face of a tough economy, working from home can provide instant cost-saving and CO2-cutting benefits. If you extend the opportunity to your staff, it can also help to boost levels of motivation, loyalty and commitment.
So which is the best option for you? Read on for a breakdown of the pros and cons of each...
Executive suites are available to lease on a variety of terms. Traditionally, offices are leased on long-term agreements of typically five years or more. The contracts are stringent, and rarely allow for changes or an early move-out date unless by prior agreement.
But over recent years, a different approach to office space - known as 'serviced' or 'managed' agreements - has started to grow in popularity, and this is where officebroker.com comes in.
Serviced or managed executive office agreements, which officebroker.com specializes in, are ideal for small and medium sized businesses. This is mainly thanks to their easy-in easy-out terms, which enable business owners to sign up for space from just a couple of weeks, up to a year or more.
The size of space is easily negotiable and can usually be tailored to meet your business needs. Most business centers offer space from as little as one desk, that can be expanded as and when necessary.
This flexibility is met by an equally flexible contract, which is usually straightforward and won't require the help of an expensive lawyer. It's often renewable on a rolling monthly contract too, making it easy for small or medium businesses to upsize whenever the time comes.
In terms of cost, flexible executive suites are generally cheaper than the cost associated with conventional office leases. Rent is usually paid monthly and deposits are often minimal, making it easy for small businesses to find the cash they need to get started. It's typical for a number of services to be thrown in with the agreed fee too - such as use of furniture, kitchen facilities, broadband internet and phone lines.
One of the challenges associated with an executive suite is actually getting there. For offices based in the city center or in popular locations, business owners and staff alike face the complication of rush-hour traffic, limited car parking, and mounting travelling costs. This often encourages business owners to seek offices outside of the city center - but this comes with other problems, like a reduced public transport service. These factors need to be carefully considered to identify which are the most important to your business.
Another downside of office leasing is cost. Even with the flexible terms of an executive suite, some businesses simply cannot afford the cost of leasing an office. This is emphasized during a difficult economy, and with the recent recession still hanging over many thousands of businesses across the US, the initial and ongoing costs of an office lease simply cannot be justified.
But on the plus side, businesses have an alternative solution: the virtual office...
The virtual office concept is certainly growing in popularity. In a recent survey of small and medium sized businesses across the US, virtual phone system company RingCentral found that 39% of their respondents already conducted a fully virtual office culture, while a further 57% planned on creating a virtual environment for new employees.
With the arrival and constant modification of web and mobile technology, working remotely is gradually becoming more available to professionals, whether they are part of a company or are starting out on their own.
Not only does the virtual concept allow workers to save money on travelling, it also frees up more time during the day that would otherwise have been given over to commuting. Plus, the trust associated with allowing staff to work from home is a massive boost, which can lead to increased levels of motivation and loyalty.
For businesses, operating a virtual scheme will remove or reduce the need for a physical workplace, which promotes huge savings that would otherwise be spent on office rent, heating, furniture, equipment, parking spaces, not to mention the cost of actually getting to the office.
Entrepreneur Coach Wei claims that a virtual office is one of the best ways to start a new business.
"Being virtual is a great experience that I recommend highly for the initial phase of any start-up," he says, writing on his blog. "Zero rent obviously helps. It is cool and fun to be working in coffee shops. More importantly, it helps build the culture by forcing the team to be diligent and creative about team work and collaboration."
Adrienne Giannone, CEO of Edge Electronics, chose to turn her sales teams in Texas, Florida and California into telecommuters, which enabled her to shut those offices.
"There are big savings overall," she said, adding, "I'd rather keep my people and not spend the money on the bricks and mortar." (Associated Press)
When working remotely, a virtual office solution adds a number of essential ingredients such as a professional business address, a telephone answering service, and conference room rental in your chosen building. These factors can significantly boost your business image, and also supply the benefits of an office, without the costs and other drawbacks associated with an office lease.
While working remotely is welcomed by some, for others, being at home alone all day is a recipe for disaster. The success of having a virtual team is mainly dependent on the individual character - some people get sidetracked too easily, some get lazy, and others simply need to be around people to be productive.
Of course there are solutions, like encouraging your remote team to work in a co-working or shared office environment, and setting up regular video conferences across cyberspace with Skype. You could also try to encourage your staff to work or meet up in coffee houses, where you can also take advantage of free Wi-Fi. But beware - the price of coffee can soon mount up!
All too often the concept of working virtually becomes a 'phase' as opposed to an end solution, which - for many - is then replaced by a physical working environment. This again will depend on your business culture and your team.
In the words of Coach Wei: "When does the 'virtual phase' apply? You and your co-founders know each other well and know how to work together. If not, the 'virtual workplace' may not be a good fit."
officebroker.com can help you find both executive suites and virtual offices anywhere in the US. If you need more information in relation to executive suite rental or a virtual office solution, contact our team of experts for free, regional advice.
You can also search online for executive suites to rent in the US by visiting www.us.officebroker.com.