Affordable mobile devices and ready access to Web and company resources have helped make the virtual office a reality for a growing number of workers.
A new survey of small-to-medium-sized business owners and employees detailed their reasons for using a virtual office. Topping the list was having more flexibility (61 percent), followed closely by cost savings at 54 percent. Other reasons cited by many of those responding included being too far away from co-workers (42 percent) and the desire to reduce commute time, cost and pollution (41 percent).
Virtual PBX, a supplier of hosted PBX services, sponsored the survey of more than 600 SMBs, which covered CEOs, owners, partners, principals, directors and sales managers.
A majority of those responding (59 percent) said they feel they're more effective working from a virtual location than in a traditional office. On the cost-savings front, 43 percent said they save $1,000 or more each month on items such as rent, IT equipment, phone service and supplies by using a virtual office. (Eight percent of this group said they save more than $10,000/month.)
Although virtual workers rely, like so many others, on cell phones, just about half still use landlines. Some 87 percent said they use cell phones for business communications, but 49 percent said they use landlines. VoIP phone lines were listed by 25 percent of those responding. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they have a local number for callers to reach them, while the same percentage also indicated they have a toll-free number.
More than 60 percent of those surveyed said they work from a virtual office almost all the time, while another 27 percent work 2-10 days a month outside the office.
When asked to evaluate a list of features they would most like from their phone system, the top response was "custom music or messages while on hold," beating out such features as built-in conferencing, call forwarding to any phone, and caller preview. Getting a thumbs down from those surveyed: "on hold" ads.
"Small- and medium-sized business leaders are on the forefront of embracing virtual offices to boost business efficiency, cut costs and provide more flexibility to their workforces," said Greg Brashier, COO of Virtual PBX, in a statement.
The Naked Truth of Virtual Offices
Asked what they typically wear when working in a virtual office, 50 percent said shorts, T-shirt and flip-flops. Business casual attire came in second at 37 percent.
Less than 2 percent said they wear formal business attire, 4 percent said they wear pajamas while 2.3 percent admitted to wearing nothing at all.
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