Virtual Office vs Physical Office: Which is right for your business?

29th May 2018

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Laptop at Home VS Desktop in the Office

Has your business been pondering whether you should lease out a virtual or physical office? Both come with their own advantages and drawbacks; the latter–as the name suggests–will provide you with real-world physical premises, whereas a virtual office will not.

Here at Landmark, we offer a range of different workspaces including private office space, collaborative spaces with meeting rooms, business lounges and more. We also offer virtual offices at all of our locations, but this product is quite different. Virtual offices do not provide your business with physical premises, but could nonetheless still give your business a tangible base. By providing you with an address and a telephone number in a prestigious location, a virtual office can still allow you to establish your company and, in turn, enhance your corporate image.

It can be difficult to decide whether a virtual or physical office is right your business and there a wide range of different factors to consider. In order to help you decide, we have compiled some of the most important considerations.

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Cost

Keeping your overheads down is one of the most crucial considerations when making business decisions, particularly when it comes to deciding where to establish your business. If you are looking to lower your outgoing expenses, it could be worth considering a virtual office. Physical office space is much more expensive, and prices are only continuing to surge, especially in London.

That said, if a physical office is most suitable for your business, there are ways that we can help keep your costs down. For example, we offer flexible leases that ensure you would not be burdened with a long-term commitment that drains your funds. We also provide dedicated desk space, a fantastic choice for those who need their own personal space but do not want to splash out on a whole office.

By comparison, with a setup fee of just £25, you can choose between four affordable options for a virtual office from Landmark. For instance, our dedicated local telephone number option costs just £39 a month, and our call answering and business address options are only £59 each per month. This still gives the outside world the impression that your company has a hub in a desirable location, without you having to fork out on excessive rent costs each month.

The winner: Virtual Office


Trust and brand image

Having a strong brand image and earning the trust of your customers is essential for the reputation of your business. In the eyes of your customers (and potential customers), having a virtual office may risk making your business seem unprofessional. That said, our virtual office package at Landmark will still provide your business with a physical address. What’s more, with virtual offices in prestigious locations across London and the UK, we can uphold your brand image and retain the trust of your customers. Furthermore, if you cannot afford physical office space in a location that suits your business or sector, it ultimately makes more sense to hire out a virtual office until you can.

However, your ultimate intention will probably be to find long-term physical premises for your business. Unlike a virtual office, having a physical location is more likely to endear your customers to your company and engender trust in you and your brand.

The winner: Physical Office


Flexibility

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is incredibly important, as is being able to work in conditions that suit you. In a physical office, there is less of a chance of achieving both of these things. Firstly, staff will have to spend time commuting to work, taking valuable time away from their out-of-work life. In London, commutes of 40 minutes to over an hour are commonplace. Secondly, there is more chance of colleagues disturbing each other in a physical office, meaning staff will need to be more considerate to one another. They cannot, say, turn the air conditioning up to the level they prefer or play music as loud as they like, meaning it is more difficult to achieve ideal working conditions for all.

At Landmark, we do offer less formal workspaces that will give staff a bit more freedom. Our Club Desk workspace comes with social and collaboration zones, and our Business Lounge offerings provide casual space that mixes soft seating, meeting tables and hot desks.

However, in a virtual office, employees can enjoy an improved work-life balance by virtue of spending more time at home rather than in the office. Working outside of a physical office will also allow them to work in conditions that suit them, without having to spend time and money commuting.

The winner: Virtual Office


Client Communication

Your business will likely need a professional space to meet with clients, so a traditional office looks like a better bet on the face of it. By having meeting spaces already included, an office will make your interactions with clients seem more professional and give them a look at the inner workings of your business. If you are working from home under a virtual office address, nothing will look more unprofessional than inviting clients for a meeting in your kitchen or living room.

However, even if you do choose a virtual office, you still have the option of hiring out meeting rooms as and when you need them. Whether you’re meeting with clients, holding a board meeting or interviewing prospective employees, we have meeting rooms that can be tailored to your needs. Fully-equipped with catering available, and able to be booked by the hour, half- or full day, we can ensure you avoid a scenario where a client sees the pots and pans from breakfast in your kitchen sink.

The winner: Physical Office


Environment

Businesses with green credentials not only help to save the planet but are favoured by consumers, offering bottom-line savings and a competitive advantage on rivals. One Unilever report found that a third of consumers prefer sustainable brands, choosing to do business with companies they believe are doing social or environmental good.

A virtual office is a great way of reducing your carbon footprint and is much more environmentally-friendly alternative to a physical space. Air conditioning, heating, lighting and electricity are just some of the requirements of a physical office, all of which add to a business’s energy consumption. Working remotely reduces the need for this. A virtual office also reduces employees’ need for gas-guzzling commutes and also discourages staff from using excess paper.

The winner: Virtual Office


Technology

More efficient technology leads to a more efficient office, bolstering productivity and improving the fortunes of a business. If relying on employees to work from home, things could easily go wrong and seriously hinder their productivity. For instance, they could have subpar internet speed or their computers may be prone to crashing. This means employees will spend more time trying to resolve tech issues than actually working, which could seriously impact your company’s performance.

Conversely, a physical office is likely to avoid these types of problems. At Landmark, all of our office spaces are fully equipped with the latest technology, so your staff will be able to work at optimum speed and efficiency. What’s more, our offices also come with dedicated IT service teams that are on hand to promptly deal with any IT issues that your employees may face.

The winner: Physical Office


Collaboration

Collaborative environments can be the catalyst for success, generating better ideas, mutual support between employees and increased morale. With a virtual office, collaboration is much harder to achieve. Whilst staff can of course communicate digitally, this is no replacement for face-to-face contact, and you may lose out on some great ideas simply by not having a physical office.

Not only does having a physical office help to foster communication and collaboration amongst your own staff, but it could even encourage cooperation between you and other businesses. Our Club Desks and Business Lounges offer open zones where you could mix with other teams, enabling you to swap ideas and improve your respective companies. These workspaces also come with private zones, so have no fear about your staff getting their heads down and concentrating when they need to.

The winner: Physical Office


So should you choose a virtual office or a physical office?

When deciding between a virtual and a traditional office, it ultimately depends on what stage your business is at and what you are trying to achieve. For those looking to save money whilst concentrating on growing and planning for the future, a virtual office may be the right choice. Allowing you to cut down on rent costs whilst still having an address (so as to maintain your brand image), this could be the best option for burgeoning businesses. The added benefits of virtual offices being more environmentally friendly and allowing for flexible working might also be appealing.

For more established businesses, a traditional office is likely to be the right choice. Not having a physical office won’t work for all companies, especially those that want to build customer trust, bolster their brand image and require their staff to regularly collaborate. Other factors, like better technology, could also swing your choice in favour of a physical office.


If you can’t decide which type of office is right for your business, contact Landmark today. We will evaluate your requirements, helping to find a solution that is best suited for your budget and brand.