Why Would Your Business Use a Virtual Office?
For many businesses, one of the first things they believe they need to acquire to become a reality, or a bona fide business, is a physical premises to operate from – usually an office or shop space. And while this remains the case for many types of business, others have begun to explore a better option to help combine their need for a company space with the lack of need for a customer facing facility – the virtual office.
As the notion of flexible working becomes more of a reality, and a central part of many businesses working life, many business owners are examining new ways to work. Technology and progressive management techniques also mean that the traditional bricks and mortar office is not always an essential requirement for a modern business. Changing business structures, flexible working arrangements and the outsourcing of services have all meant that the virtual office may be the perfect solution for your business.
What is a virtual office?
Virtual offices allow your business some of the key benefits of a traditional office without the need to hire a dedicated physical space, such as an office block, or a commercial premises that also contains a suite of offices. A virtual office can offer a professional city centre address, call handling, mail sorting and reception services that allow the business to portray a professional image to the whole world without the inconvenience of having office or building space to rent and other associated costs. Virtual office packages start with a very basic ‘address only’ options that can handle mail forwarding and create a physical address for the business. This means that you don’t have to use your own personal home address on your business paperwork and then have to suffer being inundated with junk mail and cold callers at your home.
In addition, businesses can also use services that assist people working from home such as PA services and access to meeting rooms at a discounted price for when you need somewhere professional to meet with important clients. It even offers call management services to cut down the time spent answering the phone. These services can be a Godsend to busy entrepreneurs who need to focus on getting their business off the ground without all of their time being taken up with the necessary day to day administrative tasks of running a company.
When is a virtual office the right option?
The cost difference between a virtual office and real bricks and mortar office is obviously significant, especially for address only and mail forwarding services where you want to keep your home address private and separate from your business. Added to this is the prestige of having an EC1 London city centre location for a business address that most business owners couldn’t afford to rent for their traditional office space. But cost alone isn’t the only way to know when a virtual office is the right choice.
The trend for people working from home has grown steadily over the last ten years or so as more people either work freelance, start their own business from home, or simply conduct their company role from their home address. Rather than being a temporary solution, it has become a lifestyle choice for a wide range of people – from parents to people wanting to live in rural locations or even in another country.
However, there are still some who see this business model as offering problems – people located in far flung places, removed from the ‘real’ world of business as they work from home. Often a physical address is used as a defining factor when choosing a business to work with and a home based business may miss out due to this. By replacing the registered address from a home address to a virtual office, a business can cut through this preconception and offer a traditional style address to look more professional in the eyes of prospective new customers.
Another option is for those home based businesses who need extra services but don’t want to commit to running a full office suite just yet. Or they have an office that they are happy with but it is in a more remote location and when you are London-based, this can sometimes be seen as a negative. Some 74% of businesses currently using virtual office services are working with companies based in the City or West End of London but who aren’t ready to commit to a physical office space in these locations.
Another part of the flexible, home working business model is that employees can be remote or satellite workers that are spread across diverse geographical areas where a permanent office space for this type of business simply doesn’t make any logical sense. However, a central address to use for correspondence purposes as well as for client meetings and even to use for personal assistant services can be highly beneficial. Quite often these service are used by a sole trader, freelancer or single entrepreneur who needs PA services to support them in their work.
A high quality complete virtual office service will act as part of the team, adding an additional level of professionalism to the business, as well as helping to manage essential administration duties. It allows businesses that are using flexible and modern technology options for their business to also offer a physical address that fulfils some traditional requirements and is also a very cost-effective way to get a professional London address. The virtual office services can also be scaled up and down as needed and cancelled within a short notice period if the needs of the business should change. This is not so easy to do in the real world with live staff that you will have to hire and fire as your business develops and matures. It also allows core staff to work wherever suits them best rather than wasting time commuting into the office every morning and thankfully avoid that dreaded rush hour traffic!