Up until recently, the big trend in the makeup of the workplace was telecommuting. It seems that there’s a new trend that may be the future of business: Virtual companies.
Virtual companies are companies that do not have a physical location. Rather, it is more like a collection of individuals that work from their home offices. Technological advances have enabled many businesses to operate efficiently from remote locations.
According to Anita Campbell of Trend Tracker,
“The future is likely to be the age of virtual businesses. The virtual business is the epitome of the less is more dictum — less expense leaving more profit. Who cares whether the home office of Acme Thingamajig has 300,000 square feet as long as Acme is able to deliver those thingamjigs.”
“Forget three guys in a garage that was your father’s startup. Today it’s three people spread out across the country or even across continents, each in their home offices or back porches with laptops, mobile phones, and WiFi.”
Virtual offices can have their drawbacks too. Not everyone is well suited to virtual work. Penelope Trunk, who blogs at Brazen Careerist, says that “The drawback is that time management is difficult, and not everyone can adapt.”
On the other hand, some people thrive in the autonomous environment of the virtual office. Trunk’s blog post talks about one virtual worker who has no problem with the isolation.
“Dennis Yang works at Techdirt, a virtual company that provides daily news and analysis to corporate clients. While Yang does not sit with co-workers, he is never lonely. He typically has about seven conversations going on at any one time on his computer screen, and he can work anywhere he wants â€” for example, his grandmother’s living room.
A typical day involves constant instant messaging, occasional emails with clients, and Skype for Internet-based phone calls, which are free – though Yang adds, “We don’t like to have phone conversations because it’s difficult to have more than one at a time.”
Techdirt’s 14 employees hang out in a virtual conference room, which is really a chat room, and when the once-a-week phone call happens, someone types in the chat room that it’s time to move to the conference call.”
A quick search of the jobs at Craigslist will almost always turn up listings for positions at virtual companies. Financially speaking, it is very appealing to start-ups as it can take very little capital to launch versus a brick-and-mortar business. It also saves on operating costs as they have very little overhead.
Virtual companies are also very attractive to a lot of parents who want a work environment that allows them to still be connected to their children. This is where two trends meet… and mesh very well. More and more parents are not willing to have their children take a back seat to their careers. Virtual work offers the opportunity to have a career while still caring for a family.