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What Is Virtual Office And Why It Might Save Your Coworking Business During COVID-19

Apr 10, 2020 ∙ 4 mins read
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The world won’t be the same after the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic is already affecting every single industry, including the flexible workspace business. 

Not only does it put many spaces in survival mode, but it forces operators to think about reshaping their business model in order to meet the new needs during and after the crisis. Some operators are giving discounts but that might not always be the right move.

Another trend that we observe is the surge in demand for serviced offices in some areas. However, that’s not a product every operator can offer at the moment due to space limitations of the ongoing lockdowns.

So, the main question here is ‘How do you provide value and generate revenue when your members are not allowed to go to the office?’.

A service that’s been in the portfolio of executive offices for decades might be the answer and savior for flexible workspaces, and that’s the virtual office.

With the spread of the coronavirus crisis, Virtual offices are becoming an essential necessity as more and more companies will be in need of a business address without physically renting a desk or an office. On the other hand, it can drive in steady and growing additional revenue that flex and coworking spaces can rely on.

What is a Virtual office and why it might save your business?

A Virtual office is an element of the flexible workspace industry that provides businesses with any combination of services, space and/or technology, without those businesses bearing the capital expenses of owning, leasing, or licensing an actual office space.

The typical virtual office product consists of providing 3 main services:

  • Business mailbox/address
  • Mail management
  • Meeting room time*

*Of course, in the current situation, meeting room time might not be part of the offering if your space is closed.

Implementing the Virtual office in your business model can help you in 3 main areas:

  1. Offering monetizable value to members
  2. Generating new leads that may upgrade into full-time office space later
  3. Generating more business for your meeting rooms

Now, if you want to get a better understanding of what a virtual office service means for you, imagine the following scenario:

A professional or company uses your address as their business address, without physically using your space. They might only use it only as a vanity address because they need to claim a certain location as their own. Or, they might also use it to receive mail. Once mail or packages for them arrive at your space, you sort it and hold on to it until it is forwarded or picked up, or you can also scan/forward/shred the information (depending on the plan they’ve signed up for).

Why would someone need a Virtual office?

Even though the virtual office service has been offered as a service for decades, many people ask themselves why would someone even need that. Let’s take a look at the benefits for your members and potential customers:

Members

Although your members are working from home now, they continue to receive mail and packages at their business address (your workspace). And while they cannot come to the space to take them (or this would cost them too much effort), you can manage all this for them.

You can offer a mail management service for free now to provide extra value for your members (with the intention that this will strengthen your relationship with them and will affect your revenue in the future). Or you can charge for it depending on how you structure your pricing plans. 

For example, you may process (forward, scan and email, shred, etc) up to a certain number of mail parcels free of charge and then charge extra for more, or create weekly, bi-weekly or monthly forwarding plans at fixed costs. If you have a lot of members and a high volume of mail, you may consider using a technology platform to help you manage the entire process and streamline your members’ experience. Read more below.

Potential customers

Many people don’t need to rent a physical office or can’t afford one, but still want to have a professional business address. The main reasons for this, not too obvious but simple, are:

  1. Credibility
  2. Safety
  3. Full-time availability

Let me elaborate on them.

The business address of a company is essential for its reputation. Choosing to virtually place your office in a prestigious building might help you get more customers, build more credibility, or simply make a good impression.

Safety, on the other hand, prevents listing your home address (if that’s allowed at all) across the web if you’re working from home, for example.

Also, if you (and/or your team) are not fully available to receive mail at your home or current office, you can buy a virtual office and delegate that responsibility to the workspace’s receptionists.

How do you make money from providing a Virtual office?

Most business centers and flexible workspaces generate between 10% and 30% of their revenue from Virtual office services, depending on their ‘zipcode’ or how prestigious their business address is. 

A virtual office also allows you to expand your target market outside of the area around your space. Many companies would want to claim a business address in a different country/city/state from the one they are actually located in.

You can monetize your virtual office service by selling it as an additional service to your current customers, as well as by using it to generate new ones, especially now in the times of COVID-19.

How you’ll price it depends on you but in most cases, a bottom line price is applied for providing a business address, and every additional service builds on top of this price (e.g. mail forwarding, mail scanning, shredding, etc).

Also, a Virtual office might help you close old leads that were looking at you as a service, but eventually didn’t buy because they couldn’t afford it. It might be a good move to follow up and offer them to start with a Virtual office instead.

How can you set a Virtual Office with OfficeRnD?

To help OfficeRnD customers take advantage of the Virtual office service, we established a partnership with SphereMail, a mail management platform that allows you to sign in a secure online platform where you can manage your mail from remote locations. 

To make it convenient for your members, you can create a dedicated Virtual Office page in your OfficeRnD Member Portal that allows your members to log in their SphereMail account and use the services it offers directly.

You can find more details here.

Stay tuned for more information on how to best utilize Virtual offices in your coworking and flexible workspace. Meanwhile, you can check the other post of the series which outlines how to generate leads online for your virtual office service.

Stay safe and let us know if you have any questions or if we can be of further assistance.

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