As the workplace becomes more mobile and new demographic changes take hold, the overall percentage of virtual workers will continue to grow. There are certainly tangible benefits associated with these changes. For example, recent studies, including one in the Harvard Business Review, show that virtual employees are not only happier and less likely to quit, but they are also more productive.
The Virtual Workplace and Small Businesses
To compete in this new marketplace, small businesses must adapt. Not only do they need to give employees who live and commute within the “proximity” of their local offices an option to work virtually (or maintain a hybrid schedule), but they also need to look for talent outside of their locales who will work virtually 100 percent of the time.
In addition to being able to recruit and keep top talent, small businesses see other benefits from having a virtual workforce. Lower cost is one. Many small businesses are able to jettison or avoid permanent office space, and thus the overhead cost of paying for it and maintaining it. For collaboration and to remain connected, they leverage tools such as screen-sharing, project management, and file sharing. And when an office is needed, they simply reserve a meeting room by the hour or day.
The reasons for needing a virtual meeting room are myriad. We identified some of the more prevalent factors in a recent blog post entitled “Virtual or Permanent Office? Answering the Cons of a Virtual Office.” Use cases range from day offices used by mobile employees to conference rooms utilized for internal meetings and external meetings.
Two Functions of a Front-Office Receptionist
Though undervalued and often underutilized, the front-office receptionist in a virtual office location serves a couple of important functions:
- Greeter. No company wants prospects, customers, partners, or even employees to have a subpar experience upon arriving for work and/or a meeting. Yet with a receptionist who lacks professional acumen, this is exactly what can happen (or worse yet, no receptionist to greet them). The office receptionist must understand your company—what it does, why you are using a day office and/or meeting room, and any meetings you might have scheduled that day.
Of course, part of the onus is on the small business (viz., the individual[s] using the day office and meeting space). In particular, small businesses must make sure the receptionist in their virtual office location or meeting space is briefed on each of the above and understands what their company does.
- Administrative services. Even if just using a day office, small businesses will encounter requirements for different business services. The importance of having these available is ratcheted up when meetings take place—ranging from those involving various members of the team to external meetings with prospects, customers, or partners. Here, small businesses may need any number of services such as copying and color printing, secretarial services, faxing, notary and transcription services, mailing, office supplies, and more. While the virtual office center’s receptionist may not be the one to provide all of the administrative services, they play a pivotal role in coordinating all of the activities.
Three Use Cases for a Live Virtual Receptionist in a Virtual Office Location
So what are some of the situations where a receptionist is needed when a small business is using a virtual office and/or meeting room? Below are three frequent scenarios:
- Productive day offices. One of the virtual office use cases for a small business is the need for a day office. A small business may reserve a day office from which its staff can work a few days a week or a couple times a week. The team works virtually the remainder of the time but elects to use a day office(s) on select days. In other instances, a team from a small business may be on the road, meeting with prospects and customers, and they need a temporary day office for anywhere from a day or two to several weeks.
Regardless of the circumstances, a small business expects—and needs—all of the accoutrements that come with a permanent office—shipping, fax and phone services, virtual conferencing services, etc. Without a virtual receptionist who knows the business and is a professional administrator, these basic tasks can become time-consuming and challenging. Worse, for day offices without a receptionist, the occupants are left to “fend for themselves.”
- Team Meetings. Small businesses with virtual workforces may elect to hold in-person team meetings every month or quarter. These meetings may range from half-day sessions to several days of intense project meetings/workshops. The time spent together is crucial, and having a receptionist who understands the business and can provide top-notch administrative support can make a huge difference in the success of these meetings. Worrying about office supplies, catering, shipping, faxing, and other administrative tasks is the last thing a small business wants to do when collaborating and brainstorming as a team.
- Customer or Prospect Meetings. First impressions count. In a blog post earlier this year, we outlined nine factors small businesses need to consider when making first impressions. Both professional and personal impressions are formed in a matter of seconds. An important starting point is ensuring that prospect and customer meetings take place in office locations representative of a company’s brand. But just as important is the office greeter. They need to be friendly, professional, and knowledgeable—about the virtual office location as well as the company. If this does not happen, then the rest of the meeting could be doomed; recovery from a bad first impression is difficult to overcome.
But it extends beyond the initial greeting. Focusing on the prospect or customer rather than administrative tasks, which are assumed by the office receptionist, is a critical requirement for a small business. Locating office supplies, sending faxes, managing catering logistics, and other administrative functions are the responsibility of the receptionist—not the meeting leader.
Davinci Virtual Offices and Meeting Rooms
With Davinci Virtual Offices and Davinci Meeting Rooms, small businesses can focus on building and growing their companies. Our vast network of virtual offices and meeting rooms that encompass more than 1,000 locations in 30 countries around the world provides businesses with a vast array of options and scalability.
Whether you need an office or meeting room every day, a few times a month, once a week, or just once, we have the right solution for you. And with every location a professional receptionist is sitting at the front desk, waiting to greet your customers, prospects, partners, and employees, and to make sure you get what you need when using the virtual office(s) and/or meeting room(s).