Will Covid-19 Give Rise to the Virtual Office Receptionist?
With lockdown restrictions over and business getting back to normal companies around the UK are currently navigating a return to the office.
Many are going to go back full-time. Many have been open throughout the entire pandemic and haven’t seen any change in how they operate.
But far more are now looking at whether they will ever return to the office full-time, or if their future is built around a more hybrid work model, with employees splitting time between the office and home.
More than two in five employers will have embraced hybrid working by 2023, according to research by Willis Towers Watson.
In the same research, businesses predicted that nearly a quarter of the workforce would be working remotely on a full-time basis within the next two years.
Covid-19 was a massive reset button on the way we work.
Overnight working practices changed and businesses adapted to an entirely new way of operating.
Businesses which had never considered remote working were forced to implement it, and others who had been planning for more remote working had to accelerate those plans.
Now as we start to return to the office, it’s an ideal time to figure out which ‘traditional’ roles are essential in the return to a physical office, and which are primed for a more virtual role.
A rise in receptionless offices
Many companies had long adapted to having a virtual office receptionist before Covid-19.
This is particularly true of start-ups based in shared office spaces, tech companies which used more agile work practices, and small businesses with no budget for a full-time receptionist.
Now this trend is accelerating as the need for a physical front of house recedes in favour of a more agile, cost effective service.
And virtual receptionists and call answering services have come to the fore.
By the end of the year, 25% of digital workers will use a virtual assistant, according to research by Gartner.
The reason is simple.
With more people working away from the office, but still needing a reliable call answering service, more businesses have discovered the benefits of a virtual office receptionist or call answering service.
Do ‘traditional’ receptionists fit into the hybrid work model?
When you think of the traditional receptionist, you likely picture a person sitting behind a desk, greeting visitors and answering the phone, taking messages and transferring calls to the right people.
But if you don’t have an office, you work in a shared space, or are reducing the amount of people in the office, does the traditional receptionist make economic sense?
The answer, really, is no.
A full-time receptionist can cost between £18,000 and £30,000 a year depending on location and experience.
And practically you need more than one receptionist on the payroll to provide cover for holidays and sick pay.
So that could be between £36,000 and £60,000 a year on staff to answer the phone.
Not to mention the administration that comes with hiring staff.
Plus, if you’ve got half your staff working out of the office and have more meetings being done over video, so have fewer people to greet, is it really worth having a member of staff in the office at a front desk?
However you look at it, the receptionist role is an ideal candidate to be made fully remote.
And this can have some huge benefits for your business, particularly when it comes to cost savings.
The rise of the virtual office receptionist
Your virtual receptionist team will work just the same as a full-time member of staff, only they’ll work remotely.
Instead of a single member of staff, you’ll get a PA team who can cover calls when one goes on a break, meaning you have a reliable phone answering service throughout your entire opening hours.
They can answer the phone and take messages, or they can transfer calls to any member of staff no matter where they are.
Plus, the right virtual office receptionist can help you extend your opening hours, meaning you can operate for longer, without having to work longer yourself.
These virtual call answering services – like those provided by us at Face For Business – can put a human voice behind your business even if you don’t have a physical office.
Rather than relying on customers having multiple numbers for individual members of remote staff, they can continue to contact you through a single number, with all calls dealt with by a professional.
It also means you can remove the hassle of call answering from members of your team.
This is particularly useful today if employees are working remotely and spending more time away from the office.
It means they can concentrate on getting work done, and doing work that adds value to your business, without worrying that they’re missing out on important customer calls and new business enquiries.
Adapting call answering to hybrid work models
Whether you’re planning to return fully to the office, or are likely to use a more hybrid work model in the future, now is the ideal time to review which business functions you can outsource to be more effective.
There’s no question the role of a receptionist and call answering service is essential to a business’ success when it comes to customer service.
But that doesn’t mean relying on the traditional ‘physical’ model that requires a full-time member of staff to be present.
Instead, bringing in a virtual office receptionist fits perfectly into the new mode of work, allowing you to save on staffing costs while making your business’ customer service more reliable and agile in a world when employees are split between the office and remote.
By hiring a virtual office receptionist you can invest those cost savings into other parts of your business so you’re ready to deal with whatever unforeseen challenges come in the future.
Get a virtual office assistant from Face For Business
At Face For Business we have a full team of professional virtual receptionists who have worked with businesses from solo entrepreneurs and startups, to medium and large organisations.
We can help you better manage your call answering to improve your customer service, as well as providing more administration support for diary management and meeting bookings.
If you work in the health industry, then Pulse by Face For Business can provide you with a specialist virtual assistant and call answering services.