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The Pros and Cons of Having a Virtual Office

Fri, 11/09/2012 - 4:26pm | by Guest Contributor

Modern technology has made it possible to have a lucrative career without being tethered to a traditional office. With the prevalence of smartphone technology, video and tele-conferencing, networking and cloud computing, professionals can handle all of their business from a remote location without missing a beat. With a virtual office, you can maintain the level of professionalism expected in most industries by employing a telephone management system and maintaining a business-only address. It's the perfect solution for a small business with limited resources or an entrepreneur working for several different companies, and a great way to bridge the gap between outgrowing your home office and being able to afford a real office rental. But that doesn't mean it is a perfect solution. If you are part of a larger company and working from home, there are several issues that could arise that render all the benefits meaningless. Here is a look at some of the pros and cons of working with a virtual office.

One of the main benefits is cost. A virtual office means you won't have to foot the bill for an actual office rental, which can be a backbreaking cost for a small business. You can also have a dedicated business address of your choosing, which can even be in a prime, in demand location. It's something you wouldn't be able to afford otherwise. If your virtual office is at home, one detriment is the need to set up all the equipment necessary to run your business. If you can, have your company provide all the necessary gear. And if you run your own business, keep those expenses in mind when you are making the decision.

Additionally, you will receive many convenient services with a virtual office. You'll have a real, live administrative assistant to forward calls. Not having to answer your own phone will instantly add a level of professionalism, without requiring you to take on a full-time staff member. You'll also have the standard computer system to record messages. But on the downside, you will not have regular interaction with team members. If you are someone who thrives in collaborative environments, you won't do well with this. You should try and set up regular conferences with your company's main office, to make sure you stay in the loop and receive needed feedback.

One of the biggest benefits of a virtual office for people who previously worked at home is the separation it will create between your home life and your work life. It can be all too easy to get distracted at home, or work at all hours of the day and night. A virtual office will give you a way to create regular hours, which your family will respect. But the last issue to consider is your own self-discipline. Working out of a virtual office will require an immense amount of self-directed motivation. With no boss standing over your shoulder and no co-workers watching your productivity, it can be very easy to get distracted and miss your goals. You'll have to be able to produce at the same level as if you were in the actual office. If you can set yourself up to be at your desk the same time every day, and create a schedule that involves the same amount of breaks you would get as if you were at the full office, you should be able to make it work. But be honest with yourself about your limits. A Manhattan office rental could be a better bet, even with the higher rental costs, if working at home simply means you are too easily distracted from what needs to get done.

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