The inexorable march of new technology, has helped people and businesses to work in a much wider variety of locations. Coffee shops, hotels, public transport, home – thanks to your phone, the world is not just a stage, but a flexible workspace too. Because of this, traditional offices have become more unoccupied, and it’s an opinion commonly held in corporate property circles that to improve the efficiency of the workplace (corporate and commercial), focus should be on creating versatile, agile spaces, prioritising the provision for people to meet whilst enabling work to be carried out by the individual whenever and wherever they happen to be.
'Work is in three places, this is the third'
It’s been a bit of a wake up call in the modern digital age that the ability to work from coffee shops and hotel lobbies has become the norm ('Have laptop, will travel'). As a direct result of new technology enabling an increasing adaptability now prevalent in business, society and exchange, our working environments are, sometimes quicker than we realise, changing.
Research by ZZA conducted since 2011 covering over a million businesses and senior managers suggests the stage has definitely moved. 52% of Businesses conduct their meetings and solo work in business centres and lounges, 48% use Informal Spaces (coffee shops, bars, restaurants), 59% use solely their main office space and a huge 49% conduct business from home. So basically any space can be a Virtual Office, and there’s the proof. What comes next?
"Do I ditch my office and go virtual?"
Now the use of a virtual trading address or 'Virtual Office' is not a pill that will cure all ailments, more a piece of a puzzle that helps streamline your operations, expand your footprint internationally. It’s a way of maintaining a presence in some of the worlds greatest cities but without the huge overheads.
"London - a place called home"
London in particular, being the site for global finance and commercial activity, has seen a big rise in the use of Virtual Addresses and Virtual Telecoms. People are really engaging and interacting in flexible, unconventional work environments because their reception, admin, back end operations (including government correspondence and mail forwarding) are being run from a virtual office: laying off the burden of overhead via outsourcing.
Exciting times for those with a keen eye on the competition. One such person is a man going by the name of Mr. Michael trading from Paris, France. Mr. Michael is a bright young venture capitalist and is already on his way to being a global trader; he has offices in no less than six countries with telephone lines connecting him to each via a call centre handling calls in 26 different languages; an extraordinary feat that would have proved impossible if it weren’t for his use of a Virtual London Office. His ability to open offices, cultivating trading presences in new and emerging regions helped him grow rapidly. It took 6 months in total. Keeping an eye on change is Mr. Michaels’ edge that will see his business thrive. “It’s all in the timing,” he says.
"I work in London, 60 hours a week, my feet hurt"
With a Virtual Office service in place, you can, like myself, enjoy being able to take the odd day here and there to work wherever you like. My UK landline – a 0207 geographic telephone number – is linked to my mobile, my office is Virtual, and my Virtual PA answers my calls. Just last week I was sat on the Croisette in Cannes, with my laptop and phone and drinking a black coffee, all whilst answering my calls and replying to emails as if I were sat at my desk back in Berkeley Square. That is the difference with a virtual working space. It never gets boring. Needless to say, there are the other advantages, working from home and being closer to your children or family, avoiding public transport and the high cost of travel, less time commuting and more time being productive, and generally incorporating a greener way of working.
A Note on productivity.
I used to work in Camden at a small record label. Every day I would travel to and from London to my workplace, clocking up a staggering 3 hours per day commuting, (nearly half the French working day) plus the 10 hours every day spent at the desk! This is not uncommon in the UK now, as we've adopted the American “work hard, play hard” lifestyle – not something I dislike, but which inevitably contributes to a culture of “I'm alright Jack, who needs sleep? Pass me another triple shot espresso & six sugars…”
I had to ask myself what I could have done with the time spent shuffling across town each day, each week, each month. By the end of the year I'd amassed over 780 hours of commuter time, equal to 15.6 working weeks, I quit my job... Well, not exactly; I was fired because they could see I was exhausted and ultimately unhappy there - there was no space, time, or energy to be creative at the office.
And to think that that time could have been spent in the gym (the pub, more likely), seeing the family, 780 hours of online FIFA (you know who you are), 8 whole football matches (home or away); you have to ask yourself, what would you do with your extra 15 weeks a year?
If you'd like to know more about putting your feet up, relaxing on a beach, or generally just how to have a life visit mrandmrssmith.com, for everything Virtual, visit us at: www.HattonAndBerkeley.com