By Zack Halliwell
In 2017, the increase in the virtual workforce is something which cannot be ignored. Indeed, some believe that telecommuting may be the future of work altogether. With this growing number of couch workers, then, is there any point for start-ups or smaller businesses having an office at all?
The short answer is, of course, yes. We have yet to reach the pinnacle of the virtual workforce. And, as such, there is still some merit for housing your business in a physical space rather than a virtual one. From social implications to company productivity, the office isn’t quite dead yet.
1. Attracting a Talented Team
The reality in the workforce is that talent isn't always attracted to the best companies, but rather, what is on offer for them. During the interviewing process, a company's office and culture can be a big influence on whether or not the candidate accepts the job. Why? Well, believe it or not, an office can be a real indicator of the success of the business, and a huge first impression.
An office is your first line of branding, it is what introduces people to you as they walk in the door and gives them an impression of what your company is about. A clean, well decorated and friendly office can indicate to your talent that you’re a great place to work. Not to mention, job security is integral and having an office gives the impression of longevity much better than a virtual workforce.
If you have ever heard the term ‘team building’ in a business setting, then no doubt you have had to experience a tedious exercise intended to bring your team together. Which, generally succeeds... insofar that you and your colleagues come together in a mutual disate for any and all team building exercises.
However, a team that can work well together and communicate effectively is crucial to the success of any business. You can forego the dreaded team building by any means, but ensuring your workforce shares the same space day in and day out is vitally important to ensure that teamwork does occur. Virtual workforces may never see the face behind the email signature, but having an office water cooler for general chit chat and socialising - in appropriate time intervals - is a great way to make the coherency of your team crystal clear.
An important aspect of employee retention comes in the form of professional development. Many people feel that they do not receive the training or professional development that their career needs. However, a simple mentorship programme, workshop or even inviting outside speakers can be small steps that make them feel so. All of which you need an office space to achieve.
The virtual workforce will very rarely be in a position for you to train, as you will need to bring them onsite to do so in many cases. Which leads to a high turnover rate and constantly having to replenish your workforce.
Invest in an office space and then invest again in your workers, giving them the training and development that the modern workforce is seeking on a day to day basis. That way they can help you grow your business as you help them grow your career.
Related resource: Save time understanding the legal framework of startup investment funding. Download our free guide to Term Sheets now!
Data protection and security is an ever-present concern for business. Particularly if you deal with client’s sensitive data such as bank details, addresses or other such sensitive information. As such, a virtual workforce can actually be a major security breach for your operations.
Pen drives, laptops and other portable devices can easily be lost and accessed by third parties with nefarious intent. All of which your virtual workforce could use and lose at any given moment.
Having an office space means that you can provide each worker with a dedicated computer, somewhere to store all company data that should never be taken off site at any time. This way you can be assured that all sensitive data remains the property of your company and is not open to being stolen.
A workforce that is in good health is a productive workforce. It is a simple fact of life, that when someone is ill they are more likely to do less work and can actually cost your business money. With a virtual workforce, there is simply no way to monitor or help with any of your employee’s potential health issues.
An office requires commuting, which can add a level of physical activity to your workers day which may have a bigger impact than you think! Only thirty minutes of walking a day can oxygenate the body; allowing your workers to feel more energised and decrease the likelihood of cardiovascular diseases in the long term. Even little things such as getting up to talk to a team member can have a huge improvement to your employee’s long term health!
Ensuring an office space has key elements such as an effective ventilation system to keep the air clean, first aid kits in the case of accidents and mental health relief on site can be simple ways to keep your workforce happy and healthy. Not to mention a pantry full of healthy snack alternatives could also be a great incentive for keeping your staff at their healthiest. Which keeps them productive.
Overall, having an onsite staff is one of the best ways to ensure that you maintain the integrity of your business and its employees. A physical office space offers you a better reputation to prospective clients and employees alike, a chance for professional improvement, and even a way to positively affect the health and well-being of those that work for you. The benefits of having a physical space, then, is something which any startup or business should consider carefully, as it sets a precedent for your company for years to come.
About the author:
Zack Halliwell is an enthusiastic office administrator by day and a freelance writer by night. Kind of like Batman, but less gadgets. Find him @ZackHalliwell on Twitter.