In today’s new entrepreneurial world, with its disappearing geographical boundaries, varying time zones and seamless connectivity, it is quite possible to be at one location and work for anyone, anywhere.
So, does the location really matter a lot? Given the increasing popularity of virtual offices, one would be inclined to believe not so much.
Let’s look at how the concept evolved and what it means for the businesses of today.
The meaning of virtual offices
A virtual office, quite simply, is a model that gives businesses a physical address and all the many office-related services without any of the associated overheads that a long lease and administrative staff might run up.
This needn’t be restricted to a one-person show but can include a whole team, with all employees sitting and working from their preferred location, and yet operating with the same mailing address, telephone and messaging services. A virtual office can, if need be, extend to physical locations and include facilities like meeting rooms, video conferencing and other business requirements, but at a much lower cost and greater flexibility.
Virtual offices find most patronage from start-ups and small businesses who do not wish to as yet invest into a physical property, whether on rent or to purchase but have the need for a common, professional image. Many times, the business continues to thrive and grow without ever feeling the need for a physical location to call its own.
How did virtual offices come into being?
As more and more people began using laptops and smartphones, and seamless internet connectivity became reality for many, the concept of work-from-home and flexitimes emerged.
However, the origin of virtual offices can be traced to even before that, when the Industrial Revolution began to be replaced by the Information Age. This was the time when there was a migration of people from smaller towns to larger cities, leaving behind traditional jobs like farmers, blacksmiths, smaller retailers, etc. to join the multitudes of office workers.
Several individuals started their own businesses, some large, some small; and this necessitated the need for a place to conduct business from. However, not everyone could afford the high rents or mortgage that it entailed. And that is what led to the creation of the virtual office.
Who coined the term first?
It was Ralph Gregory who, when he became a father, wanted to spend more time with his daughter and yet maintain his professional image. He devised a method in which his secretary could transfer calls from the office to his house. He saw a business opportunity in that and launched the concept as a company, and ‘The Virtual Office, Inc.’ was born in 1989.
How did the concept of virtual offices catch on so quickly?
The emergence of virtual offices was (and continues to be) largely dependent on the sudden and many technological advancements that had made their way into everybody’s lives.
- Inexpensive fax machines: Fax machines, earlier owned exclusively by large businesses, were now available to the common man and anyone could send any document to any location.
- Mass produced personal computers: Computers made their way into homes and smaller businesses were able to own them as well.
- Email: Rather than rely on post or fax (soon becoming obsolete) email made communication faster and more affordable, breaking down geographical boundaries instantly.
- Scanning: Fax machines are being replaced by scanners, which can retain the document in its original form and yet make it small enough to send by email, without compromising on quality.
- Internet: The internet has been the backbone of the virtual office revolution, where information is sought, accessed and shared easily.
- Mobile phones: This was the final invention that severed the cord that had tethered people to their offices. Smartphones have combined the convenience of mobiles with the power of the internet, contributing largely to the evolution of the virtual office.
What is the present day scenario?
A home address creates an amateur impression, but investing a large portion of hard-earned money into an office in a prime location isn’t feasible either. This is why many entrepreneurs and start-ups are starting to realise the benefits of virtual offices.
Virtual offices bring more than just effective communication to the table. For entrepreneurs, the virtual office helps bridge the gap between wanting an office and being able to make a long-term commitment. They get a professional sounding business address, and trained professional staff who can collect their mail and packages, and even answer calls for them. Everything works like clockwork, just like it would in an actual office.
Massive changes in technology have made it much easier to work remotely. However, as a business grows, it needs the backing of office services that only a virtual office can easily provide, as and when there is a need. Ralph Gregory just wanted to spend more time with his daughter. Today, his idea has spawned an entire industry and a new way of working that is enabling business growth and entrepreneurship like never before.
The Awfis Virtual Office
Whether you are an entrepreneur, a start-up, an SME or a large corporation, a freelancer or a consultant, the Awfis Virtual Office is your one-stop solution for a professional image.
All your mails and packages are collected on your behalf, and timely notifications are sent out to you to collect them at your convenience, during normal business hours.
When you sign-up to the Awfis Virtual Office program, you get much more than an address. There are meeting room credits, discounts on meeting rooms, a one day complimentary access to the flexi seats at your chosen virtual office centre, as well as access to the exclusive Awfis Rewards program that offers you amazing deals on F&B, travel and much more!
Visit Awfis Virtual Offices to know more.