Freelancing is big business in the world today. Forbes reports that an increasing number of freelancers are making six-figure earnings every year. Many young professionals fail to see the need for being chained to a desk during regular working hours and have opted instead for a more leisurely pace of doing things. However, with this newfound freedom comes several attached problems. Luckily, freelancers can count on the virtual office to offer them several advantages over their competition.
Competitive Freelancing is about First Impressions
Freelancing is something that consultants of almost any field can do. All it takes is demonstrable skills in performing a service for an individual to profit from freelancing. The most significant benefit of freelancing is also its biggest downfall. It can be more about making the right first impression and letting appearances speak for themselves.
For many freelancers that have an established practice, this isn’t too much of a problem. However, for new freelancers, it can be a fight to get respectability to a point where clients don’t try to take advantage of them. A virtual office is a good start in building a brand and a reputation.
A Physical Address tied to a Brand
As many professionals who work as consultants can attest, having a physical address linked with a portfolio can go a long way towards landing lucrative clients. Businesses, in particular, prefer to deal with a brand identity rather than an individual.
Having a branded virtual office space that can handle incoming calls and serves as a place for mail to come to adds a bit to the reputation of the professional. Your mail can be safely kept until you pick it up or forwarded to you depending on your preference and location.
In addition the business address of your virtual office can be used on your business cards, websites and any other form of marketing material to further support your professional business.
The Psychological Benefits of Office Work
Lifehacker notes that while all people have a problem managing time, freelancers are in the unenviable position of losing earnings if they can’t manage time properly. Despite the drive for many professionals to leave the office behind, the fact remains that people are more productive in an office environment.
Virtual offices in most cases offer distraction-free spaces that can help get work done by keeping one’s focus on a single task. An article published in the journal Personnel Psychology mentions that workers in a virtual office environment experienced better flexibility, productivity, and work/life balance. Those benefits alone are enough to make a freelancer consider having a virtual office space available.
The Neutral Meeting Ground
While some professionals are comfortable meeting clients in their home office, others prefer a more centralized area. The virtual office provides such a space for a freelancer who needs to have face-to-face meetings with clients but doesn’t have a home office or doesn’t feel comfortable bringing clients home because of their separation of work and home life.
Furthermore, the virtual office serves as a backdrop for video meetings. In some teams, telecommuting workers need to attend at least one session per week via voice and video conferencing. The virtual office provides a work environment that is conducive to a video meeting and limits the number of interruptions and background noise that would be out of the control of someone operating out of a home office.
Cost Management for a Freelancer’s Budget
Some freelancers consider hiring out an entire office space for their business, but in most cases, this isn’t necessary. A virtual office serves as the physical address and mailing address of a professional’s company with having the added benefit of costing far less than renting an entire office space.
Additionally, virtual offices sometimes include costs like a phone number along with an answering and call forwarding service, something that would require a freelancer to invest in their own secretary if using traditional office space.Having your business phone calls answered live in your company name by highly trained receptionists associated with your virtual office will allow you to never miss a call again.
The Difference Between Co-Working Spaces & Virtual Offices
According to Life Wire, co-working describes when two or more people are working within the same area, but for different employers or even in entirely different fields. Co-working spaces have developed to cater to this type of clientele, and they vary in ambiance from offices that feel like an upscale coffee house to those that feel like a corporate lounge. They tend to focus more on working in a relaxed environment and offer some of the same services as a virtual office.
However, they don’t usually provide private office spots and are just as bad as a coffee shop for telecommuting. While there is the potential for networking, there is a far more prevalent opportunity to get distracted from what one is doing, ending up inadvertently wasting time. It may be useful for some people, but serious professionals tend to avoid office spaces like these.
Who Benefits from a Virtual Office the Most?
New business owners and solo entrepreneurs will tend to be the best fit for a virtual office. People that fall within this category include freelancers just setting out on the path to claiming back their time as their own. In many cases, professionals who need to meet their clients in a face-to-face setting that is convenient can benefit from having a virtual office in an urban center.
Primarily, freelancers who haven’t quite gotten the hang of home offices or who need a change of environment of scenery to be productive stand to benefit the most from a virtual office arrangement.
The New Face of Freelancing?
One of the things that stands out to new independent professionals is how unique each worker is. Some thrive in messy, loud environments while others require complete silence to focus on what they’re doing. While the virtual office provides a handy utility for freelancers, on the whole, some may not see the need for spending money on it.
Freelancing will continue to grow as a profession as more and more people realize the earning potential and the better quality of work/life balance that it offers. As more people move to telecommuting and working from remote locations, the virtual office provides a critical link with clients that need to have a physical space linked with the professional’s services.
Vanessa Madison is a Success Manager at YourCityOffice and in her spare time writes about traveling, real estate and everything about small to medium sized businesses.