Thanks to smart technology and savvy collaboration tools, more people and businesses than ever before are adopting a ‘work anywhere’ mentality. From digital nomads and freelancers to growing SMBs and corporate teams, the business world is working on the move.
There are many different cogs in this moving wheel. Virtual offices are one of them, and they’re helping forward-thinking businesses get mobile by providing that all-important combination of people, place and technology.
“What does a virtual office look like?” asks Lisette Sutherland from Collaboration Superpowers, a specialist in creating online collaborative communities. “What do you need to get your work done?”
Lisette pitched these questions during an interview with Frank Cottle, CEO of Alliance Virtual Offices, to understand how virtual offices work and what part they play in helping flexible, dispersed teams work together more efficiently.
During the interview, Frank explained: “It’s anywhere I’ve got a lot of bandwidth and some quiet. The digital nomad lifestyle of cafe-to-cafe isn’t my style!”
As an organization, Alliance itself has a globally dispersed team and utilizes virtual offices to maintain a presence in key locations across the US and worldwide. “We’re fairly practiced at this,” said Frank. “Our entire executive team works virtually, we’re a global company, and we’ve been in business in the serviced office industry since 1979.”
“We run a variety of virtual office companies that look a lot like Expedia. People come to us seeking a virtual office, and we place them into a facility with a business address, meeting and conference rooms, a day office, telephony, bandwidth and a live receptionist, anywhere in the world.”
Contrary to popular opinion, virtual offices aren’t used solely by startups or freelance business owners. A significant, and growing, proportion of virtual office clients come from larger organizations.
“If you look at our customer base, around 15-20% is government and 20% are global fortune 1000 companies,” said Frank.
Many of these organizations are shifting the shape of their workforce and are replacing a certain amount of permanent employees with flexible contract workers.
“Look at how we’re working today – Lisette, you’re in the Netherlands, I’m in California – we have no need for visas or border checks. Globalisation is changing the structure of our industry and bringing in more flexible workers.”
Flexibility is now a valuable currency in business, as Frank goes on to explain.
“We don’t know the future. Look at the Brexit vote, for example. Nobody expected that. It’s changing business and nobody knows what’s going to happen.
“At times like these, would you rather have a 10-15 year office lease or the flexibility to change your terms? Flexibility is critical in business, and we believe strongly is giving that flexibility to people.”
Listen to the full podcast between Lisette Sutherland and Frank Cottle here: