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.
First, the situation puts many spaces in survival mode. Second, it forces operators to think about reshaping their business model in order to meet the new needs. 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. More and more companies will be in need of a business address without physically renting a desk or an office. Moreover, it can drive in steady and growing additional revenue.
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:
*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:
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. The you hold on to it until it is forwarded or picked up. You can also scan/forward/shred the information (depending on the plan they’ve signed up for).
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:
Your members are working from home but still receive mail and packages at their business address (your workspace). They might not be able to come to the space to take them. But 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. 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.
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:
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.
Most business centers and flexible workspaces generate between 10% and 30% of their revenue from Virtual office services. Of course, this depends 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. Also, you can monetize 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. Then 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.
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.
Coworking and Flex Space Operators using OfficeRnD are entitled to a discounted rate when setting up a SphereMail Operator account. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. SphereMail offers a complete package of virtual office services including Virtual Mail, Virtual Telephone, Live Answering and Online Notary Service, find out more 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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