Virtual offices: The Betterment of Society


There are a wide range of factors driving today’s remote or virtual office working revolution are well documented. Many people are seeking a much better work/life balance, more time with their families, and less commuting-related stress, and indeed, since 2003, parents with young children have a right under UK employment law to have their employers ‘seriously consider’ requests for home working opportunities. Moreover, the concept that each person has a ‘carbon footprint’ is gaining currency, and more and more people are seeking to minimise their environmental impact by reducing work-related travel.

It’s not just staffs who are gaining, though. Studies consistently show that employers also benefit from allowing staff to set up virtual offices from home some or all of the time, as staff productivity increases, absenteeism is reduced, and rent and associated central office costs are lowered. Allowing such remote working through the use of virtual offices can enable organisations to hang on to valuable employees and employ other skilled staff who would not otherwise be available to them.

Wider society benefits from the adoption of the virtual office trend as well, with reduced traffic congestion, and therefore lower urban air pollution and fuel consumption. Remote working also provides marginalised groups, such as women with young children, people with special needs and people living in remote areas, with increased employment opportunities.

These benefits to staff, employers and society have driven a dramatic increase in virtual offices over the last few years. It is estimated that more than 10 million people in the UK now work at least part of their week from home, with in excess of 2 million working exclusively from home. And around 70% of UK employers now offer some kind of remote working to their staff.


Underpinning this virtual office revolution are a range of new technologies that make the home or remote office as efficient and connected a place to work as the main office.
Indeed, there was a time, not so long ago, that ‘working from home’ usually meant escaping a busy workplace to find a bit of peace and quiet. By getting away from the office for a few hours, leaving behind the persistent interruptions of phones ringing or emails demanding attention, one could finally get around to finishing that funding application or management report or other work needing a bit of time and uninterrupted attention to complete.

  • ‘Working from home’ in this sense hasn’t gone away, of course, but increasingly those working from home or virtual offices are demanding access to the same ‘interruptions’ as those making the journey to the workplace. Virtual workers need their place of work to give them the same network, phone and email access that office-based workers have. And increasingly, the technology to deliver this is both available and affordable, even to small budget-conscious not-for-profit organisations.

  • In the following articles, we will discuss how these technologies – broadband internet, virtual private networks, voice over IP telephony, videoconferencing and the paperless office – can easily enable any organisation or individual to set up and maintain their own virtual office network, seamlessly connecting the main office with any number of home or remote branch offices.


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