Traditionally, offices were a place where people would go from 9-5 and sit at a desk with a computer. Along with the creation of new types of businesses, many entrepreneurs and freelancers are dreaming up new places to complete their work. This means that more people may choose to work from home, opt for a coworking space, or decide to travel for work.
Here’s why a virtual office could be just what you’re looking for.
A virtual office provides businesses with an address for mailing and presentation purposes, without the upkeep of a physical office. Virtual offices are perfect solutions for small businesses or professionals that work from home, particularly businesses that rely on technology but tend to work remotely.
While coworking spaces and private offices offer a physical location to work from, virtual offices are limited to mail services, physical address use, and conference room use (depending on the plan). This allows businesses to save money while creating a professional image.
Virtual Office Advantages and Disadvantages
Here are a few reasons a business may want to invest in a virtual office:
- Receive, send, and scan mail with a physical mailing address 24/7
- Use of a virtual receptionist- a real person to take calls directed to the physical address
- Improve rankings within local search results
- Create a professional impression to your clients
- Reduce privacy and security concerns (instead of using a home address)
- Utilize conference rooms and kitchen spaces for meetings and client visits
- Save on the full expense of a private office or coworking space
There are also a few tradeoffs to keep in mind:
- Limited conference room use each month (other tiers have unlimited scheduling access)
- No access to a private office, office suite, or coworking space
- No access to other coworking hardware and services (High-speed Wi-Fi, photocopying, printing, faxing services)
Virtual Office Examples
You may be wondering, how does a brand actually take advantage of a virtual office?
- Entrepreneurs use mail and conference services while continuing to work in the comfort of their own home office. We understand that it’s important for self-employed workers to keep their costs low. Virtual offices help keep the business legitimate and under budget.
- E-commerce websites. Online stores need to put on a professional face with a legitimate address, but they also don’t need a physical location since much of the work can be done online. They may also need mailboxes for receiving supplies or sending out packages.
- Multi-location businesses. Some businesses want to create the impression of a national presence, without spending the resources to put up offices in each one. For example, a telephone answering business can outsource services or have them all redirect to a single location, but a physical business address may still be necessary to comply with some laws.
- Freelancers. Many freelancers prefer to work from home but run into problems when they need to have a meeting with a client. Instead of touring a messy apartment, virtual offices allow freelancers to host clients in a professional conference environment, and even treat them to snacks, tea and (free!) coffee beverages provided in the kitchen.
- Startups. Some startups want to save on money in the initial phases, while also utilizing business locations for tax purposes, delivery of supplies, and privacy and security (no need to use their home address).
How Much is a Virtual Office?
Virtual offices are more cost-effective than coworking or private office plans, but rates may vary depending on the services needed.
At Level Office, virtual office plans start at $50 per month, which covers the use of a business address and mail receiving. There are also plans for $75 per month (which includes mail scanning and forwarding), and $100 per month (which includes monthly conference room access).
To learn about other plans and services, visit Level Office’s page on Virtual Offices.
Find a Virtual Office Near You
Virtual Offices have become a popular solution to saving money while maintaining a professional brand. Businesses from every industry rely on Virtual Offices to conduct important services while maintaining the comfort and luxury of being able to work remotely.
Are you interested in using a Virtual Office for your own professional needs? Level Office has multiple locations across the United States, offering mail, conference, and address services at competitive rates.
Check out our locations page to see a map of over 20 locations across the country.
To learn more about our shared office spaces, read up on our blog about everything you need to know.
Running a business today is nothing like it was 20 years ago. If you wanted to hire someone, you had to take out an ad in the newspaper, print out flyers, or network through someone with connections.
The world of today is built on faster, more digital connections. Freelancers and contractors have grown in popularity. It’s not uncommon for a business to have a handful of dedicated team members, and hire a professional freelancer as needed. Our own coworking spaces are full of freelancers.
We present a few best practices for how to hire a professional freelancer today.
Best Practices for Hiring Professional Freelancers
Set goals and expectations
Everything you do should tie back to your overall business goals. Some stay fixed (like delivering high-quality consulting service to clients), while others change over time (like the need to revamp the website).
Before you go on a hiring spree, make sure you understand the position that needs to be filled and the purpose for bringing others onboard. Instead of “we need a new website”, how does a website help you achieve your business goals? Don’t just focus on “more blogs” but how they can bring more traffic.
Create a brief
Once you’re ready to hire, create a brief. This simple document will help save your team and the freelancer hours of confusion and miscommunication. All it does is clearly outline the scope of your agreement. Including:
- The type of work to be done
- Project goals and objectives
- Standard of quality
- Deadlines and due dates
- Rounds of revision
- Logins and other permissions
For example, a brief for a freelance writer’s email campaign may include word count, the target audience, the brand’s tone and cadence, and access to any image assets.
A brief for a developer coding a new website may involve the expected layout, programming language, important pages to create, brand assets to include, and milestones along the way.
Briefs aren’t just requirements, they clarify the agreement between the contractor and the company. Check out this post on how to write an effective brief.
While email remains a staple in today’s business communication methods, new apps are taking the best features of email clients and streamlining them for the modern era.
Most popular is a web and mobile app called Slack. Similar to the instant messaging apps from the early days of the Internet, Slack has a user interface that emphasizes direct, real-time communication, with other features including:
- Video and audio chat
- Channels for each topic or team
- File attachment support
- Third-party integrations
The last one is key, as Slack supports connections to popular apps for file storage, project management, code repositories, and more. Some of the ones we recommend are:
Google Drive – Perhaps the most famous cloud storage app online, Drive is a great way to host your business’s documents, videos, images, and audio files. Business plans are cheap and reliable.
Salesforce – Companies around the world default to salesforce for their CRM solutions. It simply has every feature a company could need to track and analyze their customer database.
Github – For development teams and programmers, Github is essential. Repos are not only the best way to store and host code, but also encourage others to collaborate with you.
Gratify – Need to hire an expert on short notice? Hire a professional straight from Slack, and assign jobs, send payment, and leave reviews without ever having to leave the app.
Once assignments and deadlines are set, agree on a day and time to frequently check back with your freelancer. Businesses can get overwhelmed with various initiatives, while freelancers can be sidetracked by other projects. Check-ins ensure both parties are accountable for the work and payment.
If both the freelancer and the client use Google Calendar, scheduling an event and sending an invite is a great way to receive an alert a few minutes before the check-in.
Freelancers represent a shift in the new kind of business. No longer are teams tied down by their location or technology- we can connect with writers and developers from around the country and complete projects in half the time.
Modern technology and resources, such as co-working spaces and project collaboration apps, allow freelancers and businesses to collaborate more efficiently. It’s up to businesses to empower freelancers by following these new practices. Revisit your own tools, streamline your processes, and bring your business into the modern age.
Leaders and bosses- people often use the two titles interchangeably to describe someone who manages a group of individuals, typically in a business environment. But in reality, each title carries a different connotation. Without being conscious of it, we sometimes refer to some figures as bosses and others as leaders.
What are the qualities of a boss?
1A person who is in charge of a worker or organization.
‘her boss offered her a promotion’
1.1 A person in control of a group or situation.
‘does he see you as a partner, or is he already the boss?’”
– Oxford English Dictionary
A boss is someone with authority and command over a person, group, or scenario. Usually, they are focused on achieving goals and creating results.
Bosses face similar challenges as managers- their ultimate goal is to achieve the best outcomes through the allocation of time, people, and company resources, which are often limited in supply.
The most important qualities of a boss include:
- Efficiency – Bosses typically work with a time and budget constraint and attempt to get the most out of their capital. They value their employees based on how much they can do per hour.
- Authority – Bosses exert control and power over their team through their position and title. Assigned tasks are typically enforced through fear of certain consequences, whether its demotion or severance.
- Productivity – Bosses focus on getting things done and generating results- such as greater profits or new customers. Businesses are ultimately measured based on how much they can do in a single hour.
What are the qualities of a leader?
1 The person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.
‘the leader of a protest group’
1 Cause (a person or animal) to go with one by holding them by the hand, a halter, a rope, etc. while moving forward.
‘she emerged leading a bay horse’”
– Oxford English Dictionary
While bosses manage, leaders lead. It may seem like a minor distinction, but it’s important. Leading involves guiding and directing others, usually taking the same journey alongside them. Instead of issuing orders, leaders are about empowerment.
Bosses and leaders are both concerned about getting results, but their approaches vary. Bosses will focus on improving the process, while leaders focus on developing the people.
The most important qualities of a leader include:
- Teamwork – Leaders may sound like someone who tells people what to do, but they are actually great followers and listeners as well. Great leadership is as much about building a cohesive team.
- Inspiration – Leaders don’t just demand action, they inspire action. The difference is that they coach and encourage team members to think and act independently. Leaders believe inspired team members have greater potential.
- Courage – Leaders may be forced to make difficult decisions or take responsibility for others. They stand out from the crowd because they can make the choices no one else can.
What’s the difference between a leader and a boss?
Check out this video for the differences between a leader and a boss from Entrepreneur.
If you want to know how to be a leader instead of just a boss, take note of these key differences:
Giving Orders vs. Giving Directions – Bosses assign tasks and order people around. Leaders provide direction and inspiration for teams to act on their own.
Process vs. People – Bosses find efficiencies by improving processes. Leaders find efficiencies by developing teams of people and their unique skillset.
Short Term vs. Long Term – Bosses focus on daily or monthly results. Leaders focus on the yearly progress and long-term futures.
And browse through this infographic for more differences between the two titles.
Becoming a good leader
Leaders go beyond the organizational duties of a boss- they focus on how to work with real people. That isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Sometimes people can be rigid in changing their ways, or external situations and factors can have an unforeseeable impact on the team. When leaders can figure out how to best work with their people, the rewards can be far greater. When the brand starts with their people, everything else falls into place.
For more information and resources on developing leadership skills, visit Level Office’s blog today.