COVID-19 shows virtual offices are “business critical”

Virtual offices have proved “business critical” during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a newly published workplace design guide.

Rethink Design Guide, published by RIBA in 2021, includes a chapter titled ‘Workplace’ and written by Nicola Gillen.

In the chapter, the author notes how pandemics have the potential to accelerate societal and economic shifts, as societies are forced to adapt in the present and reconsider the future.

This includes the Coronavirus pandemic, which saw many different kinds of businesses from retail and leisure, to office buildings, closed down and standing empty.

Opening new channels for collaboration and remote working

The negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have led to rapid evolution in working practices, particularly for those in the workforce who want more flexible working conditions.

Ms Gillen writes: “The current crisis has shown that the ability to operate virtually is not only business critical, but it also opens new channels for more equal collaboration and potentially gives access to untapped sources of talent as more employees can access work from wherever they are.

“The shift of core offices towards physical meeting and collaboration spaces could accelerate, and this would most likely continue to take place in vibrant urban centres and regional knowledge clusters.”

Her observations highlight a trend that we have discussed in our recent news articles on the Serviced Office Website, away from large central offices, and towards more regional workspaces and virtual office workers.

The future of offices in cities

A rise in virtual office working practices does not mean an end to physical premises in important business districts like London, Birmingham and Manchester.

“Large cities will most probably continue to attract employment,” Ms Gillen predicts, “but the likely acceleration of remote and flexible working will decrease the time spent in core office hubs.”

Serviced Office Company have been enabling this trend for several years already, providing joined-up workspaces including Offices in London and Manchester, as well as virtual offices from the same addresses.

This means you can have physical premises, virtual offices in Manchester and London, or a combination of the two. Correspondence can be routed through to you wherever you are, and we have meeting rooms for hire on-site if you need to meet a supplier or customer face-to-face in a professional setting.

Are virtual offices the future?

Our virtual offices in London and Manchester are a way to get a professional address and geographical telephone number, without needing to be physically located in those cities – you can even have contact details in both locations while working from a third, completely remote town or city.

While physical workplaces will not vanish overnight – and again, our serviced offices in Manchester and London cater for this need too – the Coronavirus pandemic has been a proof of concept for companies that may have been putting off a shift over to remote working.

This is a unique opportunity to make that shift as the economy opens back up again, in a climate where consumers and collaborators alike will be expecting many more businesses to operate remotely and virtually.

As we move beyond the final phases of the pandemic, Serviced Office Company will be here to support the recovery, and to enable entrepreneurs to work in the ways, and in the locations, that serve your business best.

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