Now, you have the option to work from home, work from an office, or have the benefits of an office without actually leasing one in a coworking space or virtual office. While coworking is a fairly familiar idea as of late—especially among freelancers, contractors, consultants, small business owners, and satellite teams—the concept of virtual office services is still a relatively new one. To help you get familiar with this concept, we’re going to break down the differences between coworking vs. virtual office services, explain the benefits of each, and give you some tips for how you can decide what’s right for you.
Coworking vs. Virtual Office Services: What’s the Difference?
Coworking offers you a physical office space where you can sit down and get work done and virtual office services offer you the administrative experience you would receive in a physical office without having to actually lease a space.
Key Characteristics of Coworking Spaces:
- Physical workspaces for professionals to work in.
- They provide access to services and amenities like printing and scanning.
- They offer community and networking opportunities.
- You can have access to meeting and event spaces as well as break-out rooms and phone booths.
- Enjoy perks and benefits, unique to each space.
Key Characteristics of Virtual Offices
- You have access to services like phone answering, voicemail, and call redirecting services (kind of like your own receptionist) to keep your personal and business calls separate.
- They include mail and package receiving and storage services.
- You have a professional, credible address and phone number for your business, even if you’re not physically working in that space.
- They often include optional access to workspaces and meeting rooms when you need them.
- The one consistent thread through both services? They’re designed to provide maximum flexibility so you can get what you need without paying for things you don’t.
The Big Benefits of Coworking Spaces
People in coworking spaces reported levels of “thriving” at an average of 6 on a 7-point scale—higher than people in other work environments. And we understand why!
Among the many advantages of coworking spaces, there are four that apply most universally to all businesses and professionals.
Budget-Friendly Services and Amenities
Coworking spaces are more than just a place to sit with your computer. They’re strategically set up to help you do your best work with things like:
- Printing and scanning services.
- High-speed, ultra-secure WiFi.
- Fully-appointed cafes with free tea, coffee, and snacks.
- Access to conference or meeting rooms with A/V equipment.
- Common areas such as a kitchen or lounge.
- Different workspace options for different work styles
- Flexible membership options including a dedicated office or desk, 24/7 access, or drop-in passes.
And for solopreneurs and small business owners, there are economies of scale to be realized by sharing the cost of these services and amenities.
Socialization and Networking
Working from home can be isolating. Coworking spaces directly counteract that feeling, in turn helping with work-life balance, motivation, and loneliness by way of:
- Organized events, webinars, or get-togethers for networking, socialization, or learning.
- “Water cooler chat” in common areas of the coworking space.
- Opportunities to network with other professionals and collaborate on projects.
Coworking spaces are a professional melting pot which means there are ample opportunities to grow your knowledge and network while you’re there.
Inspiration and Productivity
Doing your best work is a matter of understanding where you’re most productive and motivated.
For people who are inspired by working alongside other professionals, coworking spaces are a great option because they put you in the midst of an engaged group of like-minded people sharing similar missions and goals.
Your workspace is a reflection of your brand and your business. So, having a well-appointed workspace projects a professional image to your clients and colleagues. This offers a level of credibility that you might miss out on if you worked from a home office or coffee shop.
Benefits of a Virtual Office
Just like coworking spaces, virtual offices also have their benefits. To decide between coworking vs. virtual office, let’s look at what they are!
Virtual services support out-of-town businesses by building their local presence in an area.
For example, if your business’ headquarters are in New York but you need a presence in DC, virtual services allow you to have one.
Customers can call a local phone number during office hours and send packages and mail to a local address. You can also use meeting and event spaces at that office should you find yourself in need of them.
Busy professionals can have a hard time keeping up with the many tasks they need to do. Virtual office services can help increase your capacity by handling basic administrative tasks like mail and package handling or phone services. This can help free up some of your time and get back to the most pressing aspects of your business or work.
Like coworking spaces, virtual office spaces give you credibility and a professional image—without the need to take on an actual workspace. Even simply having your business address listed in a credible building rather than a house or condo can do a lot for your brand perception.
Virtual office services also help you keep your personal and professional life separate as you don’t need to give out a personal phone number.
With virtual office services, it’s possible to have all the benefits of an office space without the costs of a physical space.
How to Decide What is Right For You
If you’re trying to decide between coworking vs. virtual office, think about what you need the most—and least.
If you want access to professional services and administrative help but don’t actually need a workspace or the costs that come with it, then virtual office services might be right for you.
On the other hand, if you want a physical workspace where you can go to get out of your house, do your best work, and be in the company of other professionals, then a coworking space is probably your best bet.
Virtual office is ideal for:
- Business owners or workers seeking administrative support.
- Internationally-based or companies from another city or state looking to boost their local presence.
- Professionals who need an occasional meeting or conference space.
- Anyone seeking to boost their professional image with a dedicated business phone number and address.
- Companies and professionals who need to mail or ship items to a new area.
Coworking is ideal for:
- Professionals who want increased socialization and professional networking through events and casual “water cooler” chats.
- Those looking to boost focus, productivity, and mood by working in a workspace designed to support you.
- Workers who need access to budget-friendly amenities and services.
- Anyone seeking to build a professional image by utilizing on-demand meeting and conference spaces.
- Professionals who like the routine of leaving their home and working in a separate, dedicated workspace.
The right answer to the question of coworking vs. virtual office services is that it depends. Start by assessing your needs. Then explore the options in your local area and decide what’s right for your business needs. And remember, both of these options are designed for ultimate flexibility. So, you can always scale up from virtual office services to a coworking space or vice versa as your business needs dictate.
If you’re looking for a professional workspace or access to virtual office services, book a tour of your local Launch Workplace today.