|By Victoria H. Covert |
There is a lot of buzz about virtual offices these days. Perhaps it is because of the threatened state of the earth’s environment and how virtual offices can help businesses become more sustainable. An office can be sustainable in many ways, from eco-friendly lighting systems and minimal printing to sharing resources with other businesses. The modern office has endless opportunities to be more responsible in both an economical and an environmental sense. Offices of the millennium are more ecological than that of the past due to advancements in technology. However, it is possible for entrepreneurs and any size business to make more noticeable strides towards a sustainable office.
Sustainability in business refers to economical process, resource conservation, community contribution and waste limitation. Businesses are expensive! As Americans, the entrepreneurial spirit is as inescapable as death and taxes. We all have a great idea or two and just need the capital to get it up and running. A virtual office or “co-working space” is an excellent way to utilize necessary resources while maintaining a low overhead cost.
Virtual offices are fully functioning offices, complete with professional address with personal mailboxes, hourly or flexible lease offices, conference rooms and full time administrative staff to support numerous enterprises at once. Most businesses can be managed remotely, but having a home base is important for a company’s professional image and collaborative work.
While most entrepreneurs and small businesses cannot afford to hire full time administrative staff, shared offices provide competent and well-trained administrative staff at a fraction of the cost. In terms of supporting the community, virtual offices offer fully compensated positions to administrative professionals, while businesses only pay for the time they use.
Another benefit of co-working offices is that they provide a platform to build supportive communities of entrepreneurs. The way that virtual offices work is, there are several offices available for lease by the month and a few offices and conference rooms available by the hour. There are generally a few hundred mailboxes available for businesses to rent and by doing this, small businesses get a professional address to help boost the image of their budding enterprise. This combination of resources makes for an interesting collection of professionals found in the virtual office on a daily basis. It also creates an excellent opportunity to network for your business in a natural setting.
When we think of reducing carbon emissions, we often immediately think of driving personal vehicles. It is true that we can reduce carbon emissions by walking, biking, carpooling or taking public transit to work. One big thing that people often forget to consider is the transportation of goods such as food, supplies, and mail. For example, having mail delivered to a shared office reduces carbon emissions from postal carriers by providing one physical location for approximately 400 businesses to receive mail. Less driving for the postman means less pollution in our environment. Additionally, virtual offices offer mail alerts and scan to email options.
On a similar note, using a shared office reduces the amount of landfill waste we create. If every business has to rent a space, buy office furniture, printers, and various office supplies, not only does it increase carbon emissions to transport all of the building materials and office supplies, but it also creates more waste. Packaging and shipping material is a huge contributing factor in landfill waste. The less stuff we buy (i.e. the more stuff we share) the less trash that goes to the dump. Additionally, if we buy less stuff, we are also conserving the earth’s manufacturing resources such as trees and petroleum. Co-working offices also help reduce the use of resources such as electricity, oil and water. For businesses that run their operations online, or do most of the grunt work remotely or out in the field, it is the perfect resource to gain credibility and avoid using a home address.
It’s no wonder why there is so much talk about virtual offices on the business scene. They are a great way for any entrepreneur or small-to-medium size business to display a professional image, conveniently use the space on an as-needed basis, utilize networking opportunities, lower overhead costs and increase income. The added benefit is that virtual offices help to promote environmental sustainability within our communities.