Hosting a Virtual Coworking Office

Written by Newspaper Humor Columnist & Social Media Expert

Hosting a Virtual Coworking Office

If you're an entrepreneur, freelance computer programmer, web designer, or freelance journalist, you don't need an office.

In most cases, you probably don't even have an office. All you need is a laptop and decent wifi, and you're good to go. You can work out of your home, the nearest coffee shop, or maybe even a local coworking space.

Depending on where you live, you can find coworking spaces in most cities of any size.

But not everyone can take advantage of a coworking space — they can be expensive, they can be noisy, and they can sometimes get crowded. And, of course, we had that thing for a few years where people just couldn't be out in public.

As a result, virtual coworking spaces grew in popularity. Even after the pandemic, they're becoming a popular solution for creative professionals, entrepreneurs, small business owners, and large enterprises that want the flexibility and collaboration of a coworking space but without actually being in that physical space.

A virtual coworking office is ideal for people who need teams to be able to get together but can't do it in person for a variety of reasons. It's also ideal for individuals who want to be around people but can't get to a local coworking space for any number of reasons.

We're going to look at the pros and cons of hosting a virtual coworking office, and what it takes to actually do it.

What is a Virtual Coworking Office?

I assume you already know what a coworking space is.

A virtual coworking office is the same thing but on a cloud-based communication service like Zoom, webinar software, or virtual coworking office software like SpatialChat or Kumospace.

Also called digital coworking, virtual coworking uses technology to create an online community strictly for working. It's not a social network, it's not like the virtual cocktail parties we held during COVID. And it's not like a webinar where one person talks while dozens of others listen.

Virtual coworking is like working at your desk while being surrounded by a community of colleagues also working at their own desks. It's a shared workspace where you can connect and work together no matter where you are in the world.

Some virtual coworking spaces even have floor plans and digital desks — think Second Life or Minecraft for the office — but this isn't necessary to be an effective space. In these spaces, if you need to talk with another coworker, the host can move you to a breakout room where you can talk uninterrupted.

They're sort of like the public chat rooms in the 1990s where you could enter a private chatroom with another person. This is especially useful if you have problems with Zoom or Google Hangouts, which means you can even invite people outside the community into your breakout room.



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Pros and Cons of Hosting a Virtual Coworking Office


Increased productivity
Better file management and easier storage
Remote workers can work with other teams and departments
Improve internal communication
Improves diversity
Improves flexibility
Lower overhead costs

It lacks in-person interaction
You miss out on water cooler conversations
There is a lack of rapport
A lack of work relationships makes jobs easier to leave
There's a potential for distractions
Difficulty establishing boundaries
Technological challenges

What are the Pros of Hosting a Virtual Coworking Office?

There are several benefits for companies and teams to host a virtual coworking office.

1. Increased productivity. Many employees reported increased productivity because they were working virtually. They were no longer spending several hours sitting in commuter traffic, they had better work-life balance, and they were more satisfied with their jobs. As a result, they were able to produce more work more efficiently.

2. Better file management and easier storage. Teams can store and organize their documents in project and meeting rooms, rather than separate cloud-based directories. While policy management software and similar platforms offer file management systems, not every company document needs to be included in that kind of software. But, project-related and team-related documents can be stored in their virtual meeting rooms and filing cabinets, and you can limit the access to specific people rather than giving free access to everyone in the company.

3. Remote workers can work with other teams and departments. Regardless of region, country, or time zone, remote workers can collaborate with each other without scheduling Zoom call after Zoom call. You can work in real-time or asynchronously. And since coworking software has many more features than Zoom, like file management and internal communication tools, you're not just limited to plain and boring Zoom calls.

4. Improve internal communication. Dedicated virtual coworking software offers all-in-one communication and collaboration. Some virtual coworking spaces use Slack for their communication while others have their own internal chat and messaging platforms. You can even store these conversations with your other files and documents.

5. Improves diversity. Companies of any size can hire workers from around the world, bringing in different worldviews, experiences, and ways of thinking. This even lets you hire workers from rural areas and smaller towns, often for less money than you might if they lived in the biggest cities, or you needed to get them to move.

6. Improves flexibility. Virtual coworking allows people to work around their own lives, such as parents of young children, adults taking care of their own parents, or people with disabilities to work at the times and in the manner that lets them contribute to the organization's overall success.

7. Lower overhead costs. Given the high cost of commercial real estate, many companies realized they were able to get along without ever setting foot in a real office again. They saved thousands, if not millions, of dollars per year by sending everyone to work from home. A virtual coworking office lets them continue to be productive, but by reducing the company's overhead by eliminating commercial rent, insurance, and utility payments.

What are the Cons of Hosting a Virtual Coworking Office?

Working in a virtual office is not for everyone, and there are definitely downsides to doing so.

1. It lacks in-person interaction. For extroverts, working virtually from home was painful. Introverts love it because they get recharged by being alone, but extroverts need the energy of other people. During the pandemic, many extroverts felt disconnected and alone, even when they were meeting with colleagues on Zoom calls. It's just not the same as sitting in someone's presence, conversing with a flesh-and-blood human being.

2. You miss out on water cooler conversations. One of the great things about working with other people is shooting the breeze in the break room or around the water cooler. A lot of innovations and new ideas have been hatched as two people are just chatting, and one of them says, "You know what we should do?" That totally disappeared with virtual coworking. People aren't so likely to blurt out those random ideas to a screen full of people, and even the virtual breakout rooms don't facilitate that kind of interaction.

3. There is a lack of rapport. Those chance encounters and random conversations can build relationships and a sense of trust between employees. It's hard to build those important work relationships when remote employees are isolated and working in another part of the world. Conference calls can enhance a virtual relationship, but it's not the same as seeing people in real life every day.

4. A lack of work relationships makes jobs easier to leave. For most people, it's the relationships that make their jobs enjoyable. They're less likely to leave if they have good relationships with their coworkers because they don't want to leave their friends behind. Remember, companies where employees feel engaged have 18% more productivity and 23% more profitability.

5. There's a potential for distractions. Working remotely can expose employees to different distractions, like household chores, family members, pets, external noise, or even the clarion call of the refrigerator. Without the structure of a physical office, it can be harder to maintain focus and discipline. That can lead to. . .

6. Difficulty establishing boundaries. One of the great things about working in an office is that when you leave, work stays behind. Separating your work life from your personal life becomes difficult when you work from home. That can lead to blurred boundaries and potential burnout. People are tempted to check emails before bed or roll out of bed and go straight to their desks without any transition allowed by the commute. Without a clear break between the office and home, people may struggle to disconnect from work-related tasks, which can hurt their overall well-being.

7. Technological challenges. Dependence on technology brings the risk of glitches like Internet connectivity issues or compatibility problems with the virtual coworking software. Everyone knows the heartbreak and hassle of their home Internet failing, and it can be a real problem when you're giving an important presentation or trying to work on your cloud-based software. At least when you're in an office, you have an IT staff dealing with your connectivity technology issues, especially for those people who have limited technical expertise and capabilities.

5 Must-Knows When Hosting Your Virtual Coworking Office

If you decide you want to host your own virtual coworking space, there are a few things you need to know before you actually take the plunge. Some of these are technical issues, others are cultural and procedural.

1. Platform power. Your virtual coworking space will live on a cloud-based platform like a video conferencing app or a custom-built website like the ones we've already discussed. Pick one that's user-friendly, reliable, and has the features that your organization needs. Video chat is a must-have, but you may also need extras like virtual whiteboards, breakout rooms, and file sharing and storage.

2. Community culture. A virtual space is only as good as the people who use it. So be sure your organizational culture actually lends itself to letting (almost) everyone work from home or a remote location. Set clear guidelines and expectations for behavior, communication, and performance. Consider hosting dedicated channels for casual chats to replace those break room and water cooler conversations.

3. Structure and schedule. While flexibility is a perk, a sense of structure helps keep everyone focused. One way to do this is to offer designated "coworking hours," where people can log in and work alongside their colleagues to create a sense of shared purpose. You can also schedule virtual coffee breaks or workshops to build relationships.

4. Technology for everyone. Unless you make investing in technology a top priority, not everyone will have a top-of-the-line computer to allow everyone to access your platform. Make sure the platform is accessible by a variety of devices and Internet connections. Offer training and tutorials to help people get comfortable with the new system before they start using it.

5. Security is critical. Just like every other online platform, security is a top priority, so choose a virtual coworking provider that offers the latest encryption methods in order to protect employee and customer data, intellectual property, and financial data. Make sure your security policies are clearly outlined, require people to use strong passwords, and install your software on a cloud-based provider that offers industry-leading security.

Hosting a successful virtual coworking office is all about building a strong, safe community.



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Final Thoughts

Virtual coworking spaces offer a compelling and cost-effective solution for remote teams. Not only do they boost productivity and increase employee engagement, they can help you attract global talent and greatly reduce your overhead costs.

Just remember, it's not a magic solution, and it's not for everyone. Evaluate your company culture and your employees' needs. Can they thrive in a virtual environment? Or do they need the structure and relationships that an in-person office brings?

Building a successful virtual coworking space depends on three factors: platform, culture, and community. Choose a user-friendly, reliable platform that offers features like video chat, file sharing, and breakout rooms.

Next, establish clear guidelines and processes for communication, professionalism, and work-life balance. Remember, casual interaction fosters connection, as well as leads to innovation and new ideas. Encourage virtual coffee breaks and dedicated chat channels to replace those in-person water cooler moments.

Finally, build a strong community. Schedule coworking hours between employees to create a sense of shared purpose and to strengthen relationships. Virtual workshops and events can further connect team members, making them feel more engaged and appreciated.

By focusing on these elements, you can create a thriving virtual coworking office that empowers your employees, which can fuel your business growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I collaborate with other virtual assistants?

Yes, collaborating with other VAs can lead to mutually beneficial partnerships, resource sharing, and expanded service offerings.

What are the best ways to network and market my freelance business?

To grow your freelance business, actively post and engage on platforms like LinkedIn, attend industry conferences and networking events, share valuable content related to your field, and encourage satisfied clients to refer you to others. To further develop your skills, enrol in online courses, stay updated with industry trends and technologies, learn from other professionals in your field, and seek client feedback to improve your services.

What are the advantages of being a freelance data analyst over traditional employment?

Freelancing offers flexibility in choosing projects, setting your schedule, and potentially earning more based on project demand. However, it requires self-discipline, as you are responsible for managing your workload and business.

What are the best tools for setting up my freelance business online?

For building a professional website, consider using web hosting services like Verpex Hosting for reliability and ease of use.



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