Chip Shots by Chip Griffin

Virtual versus remote

As technology has made it easier for employees to seamlessly work from home, a coffee shop, or wherever else they want, businesses are increasingly deciding to go without a physical office.

The agency space, in particular, has seen a rise in the number of firms that lack a location where the full team works every day.

But what do you call these kinds of businesses?

The most common term has been “virtual agency,” but there has been a bit of backlash to that of late.

The problem is that “virtual” can imply something that is less than a regular enterprise.

In fact, the Oxford dictionary defines virtual as “Almost or nearly as described, but not completely or according to strict definition.”

When your business is competing against a traditional agency, you don’t want to plant the idea in the minds of the potential client that they are “real” and you are not.

Since words matter, some have now started to call themselves “remote” agencies instead of virtual.

This language focuses on how the team works — remotely — rather than using a term that has the potential for inadvertently questioning the credibility of the group.

There’s no doubt that the language is an improvement, but I’d suggest an even broader question: why bother calling out any distinction?

Since the beauty of these new businesses is that they allow you to operate just as effectively as the traditional central office model, why is there a need to label it as something other than what it does and who it serves?

By all means use remote instead of virtual to give yourself more credibility, but even better is to drop the qualifier entirely.

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