Virtual Offices Offer Cost Savings, Improved Productivity: Survey

Midmarket companies are finding cost savings through implementing virtual offices, a Virtual PBX survey finds.

Virtual PBX, a supplier of hosted PBX services, announced the results of a recent survey that asked small and midsize business owners and employees about their use of virtual offices. Respondents cited employee flexibility (61 percent), cost savings (54 percent), geographic distance of staff (42 percent) and the desire to reduce commute time, cost and pollution (41 percent) as the top reasons for adopting virtual offices.

Representatives from more than 600 SMBs - including CEOs, owners, partners, principals, directors and sales managers - shared their views on a range of issues, including frequency of virtual office use, perceived effectiveness in a virtual setting, virtual office costs and adoption of technology to support a virtual business. The survey found more than 60 percent of respondents work from a virtual office almost all the time, while another 27 percent work 2-10 days a month outside the office.

Fifty-seven percent of survey-takers indicated that half or more of their workforce uses a virtual office during a typical month, and the majority of respondents - 59 percent - said they feel they are more effective working from a virtual location than in a traditional office. On the cost-savings front, 43 percent of the SMB leaders reported 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 saves more than $10,000 per month.

Virtual workers, like much of society, are addicted to cell phones, with 87 percent of survey takers using them as a business communications device. Also popular are landlines, used by 49 percent; VOIP phone lines, used by 25 percent; and computer-based VOIP soft phones, used by 20 percent. Survey data also suggested that SMBs in virtual offices make an effort to appeal to both local customers as well as those outside their region. Nearly two-thirds of respondents indicated they have a local number for callers to reach them, while the same number also indicated they have a toll-free number.

On the lighter side, survey participants were asked to comment on what they wear when working at a virtual office. The top response - 50 percent - was shorts, T-shirt and flip-flops, followed by business casual attire (37 percent) and pajamas (four percent). A few free spirits (nearly three percent) wear nothing at all, and fewer than two percent wear formal business attire.

"SMB 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. "At Virtual PBX, we're responding to the needs of this growing population with technology designed to make it easy for them to stay in touch with colleagues and clients. In particular, we've seen strong interest in our Virtual PBX Complete solution, which allows our users to leverage the industry's deepest feature set and the flexibility to use any phone, all at 40-80 percent savings over traditional phone services."