While the possibilities presented by the virtual world seem almost endless, there are also restrictions, particularly to the interior design sector.
Interior designers have been benefited economically from the acquisition of prime grade-A office building fitout work, but these kinds of tenders could soon become a thing of the past with the increasing prevalence of the virtual office.
As was the case in the retail sector, where the built world was forced to battle it out with online retailers following the advent of online shopping, now office space is moving online as well.
Regus Canada, leaders in the Canadian virtual office realm, describes virtual offices as allowing for ‘all the benefits of a fixed office, without the office.’
Regus’ concept of a virtual office includes a business address in a choice of prime real estate locations nationwide, a local contact number, and even the option to use a virtual secretary to answer calls, all from the comfort of home.
According to vice-president of operations Wes Lenci, the flexibility of having all the benefits of prime office space without paying hefty rental costs for the office space itself is a real drawing card for many professionals.
“We’ll rent an office for a day, a week or a year,” he said. “Clients want flexibility, they don’t want to sign in for a 10-year head lease that you can’t get out of. If you wanted to have a North American presence, you could have a virtual office in Vancouver, Toronto, New York and Los Angeles for less than $500 a month and put that on your business card.”
While this concept may be ideal for start-up businesses without the monetary backing necessary to have their own office building, or even for larger companies looking to cut costs, only time will tell what the shift to the virtual realm means for the design industry.