This article is part of the school of coworking course through Archie. Make sure to check out the other articles to learn more about how to start a coworking space business.?
The global shift to remote work brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses to reconsider much of the traditional office. Subsequently, virtual offices – which provide an alternate solution for business professionals or freelancers who do not require a full-time office space – have since seen significant growth in popularity.
What is a Virtual Office?
A virtual office provides a physical address and other office-related services to businesses without the expense of a long lease and administrative staff.
A virtual office allows employees to work from anywhere while still having access to services such as a mailing address, phone answering services, meeting rooms, and videoconferencing.
For people working remotely, virtual offices are one of the best options. It is a low-cost office solution that offers everything you need to work without the hassle of managing a physical space.
Why Should you Offer Virtual Offices?
There are a number of reasons why virtual offices are profitable. Beyond its cost-effectiveness, virtual offices have been linked to reduced employee stress as well as reducing the carbon footprint of businesses.
As a coworking operator, offering virtual offices to your customers comes with a set of advantages. Most notably, virtual offices are an effective way to draw in new members to your space thus generating more revenue for your business without the cost of expanding the space or adding more workstations.
By offering virtual office spaces, operators can easily increase the number of members at their coworking space. Ultimately, virtual office plans open up new avenues for upsells and additional revenue streams.
Elements of a Virtual Office
The services you offer for your virtual offices can be extensive or minimal, depending on your target market and the size of your coworking business. However, the best virtual offices will answer all or most of the elements listed below.
A virtual office should include:
- Monthly rolling contract with flexible terms
- Professional address
- Meeting space
- On-site amenities
- Virtual assistant
- On-site reception
- Call forwarding and answering
- Mail forwarding
Typically, virtual office providers will offer several packages from all-inclusive or selective services based on pricing. A customer can then select the one that best meets their requirements. Furthermore, most virtual offices offer the option of adding other services as your business grows.
Implementing Virtual Offices
Introducing virtual offices at your coworking space can be done quickly and inexpensively. The first thing you need to do is create an online portal where members of a particular space can log in and chat with team members present in the virtual office at that time. Additionally, your online portal can include a virtual office floor plan completed with avatars for each team member.
Beyond that, for your virtual offices to be complete you must also include tools to facilitate your customer’s business operations. Consider what kind of software integrations would be beneficial, file sharing and communication tools such as Google Hangouts, Slack, Dropbox, and Google Drive. Seamless integrations connecting your customer’s favourite tools to your virtual office platform is a great way to give you more leverage over the competition.
Selling Virtual Offices
There are a couple of ways to sell virtual offices in your coworking space. Depending on your budget, you can choose whichever you see fit for yourself and your space.
1. Paid advertising
Paid advertising can be very beneficial to businesses nowadays, however, it is very expensive. A great way to market your virtual offices, especially to people who may not be aware of the concept is through paid advertising. You can choose which platform you would like to advertise on, whether it be on social media or Google, and decide how you want to go about it.
The best thing to do before you dive into paying for advertisements is to evaluate your coworking space and its potential. Usually paid advertisements work best if your company is already established and has multiple locations. If that’s the case then you will want to figure out who your audience will be and try to advertise to them. If your coworking space is still in the growing stage, then it might be better to focus on other types of advertisements before paying a lot of money on paid advertisements.
2. Content marketing
Content marketing is a great way to increase your online presence and get the word out about your virtual offices. With content writing, you can use SEO strategies to create more traffic to your website and advertise how you wish. This can be a great strategy, however, it takes a lot more time. Depending on how long you want to spend on SEO content marketing, it can be a very effective way to advertise and build long-lasting trust and relationships with members and users of your coworking space.
3. Social media posts
Another great way to advertise is through social media through posts that you made yourself. This is a much more cost-effective way of advertising and creating brand awareness through your followers and potential followers.
4. Word of mouth
A great way for the promotion of your virtual offices to happen is through organic word of mouth. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have anything to do and that people will just talk about your virtual offices. Instead what you could do is try a promotional event with your members, offering them a free day pass for virtual offices. Another thing you could try is reaching out to social media influencers and offering them the service for free in exchange for advertisements on their page. This could bring in a lot of new members depending on who you choose as your influencer.
The goals of virtual workspaces are to allow users to work remotely, engage with others, learn new things together, and share experiences. A virtual coworking space should foster a sense of community and encourage participants to be highly productive.
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