Virtual offices allow you to enhance your corporate image without having to pay excessive overheads for a physical workspace.
They are often used by independent contractors and small businesses in order to:
- establish a presence in a prestigious location
- have access to services and facilities that are otherwise unavailable
- establish boundaries between home and working life
Even though you don’t own or rent the office space, a virtual office provides you with a mailing address. You can then use this information on business cards and email signatures, etc.
With a virtual office you won’t have to worry about mundane tasks such as general maintenance and janitorial duties, allowing you to save money and concentrate solely on your business without any distractions. Other expenses such as liability insurance are also reduced, as they are not required unless you have a physical office space.
What is a ‘Virtual Office’?
A virtual office gives businesses a physical address and office-related services without the overhead of a long lease and administrative staff. With a virtual office, employees can work from anywhere but still utilize a mailing address, phone answering, meeting rooms, and more at a lower cost and with greater flexibility.
Breaking Down ‘Virtual Office’
Virtual offices are especially popular with startups and small businesses. The creation of web-based office productivity software and services, such as video conferencing, has enabled the practice. A virtual office also can lead to greater productivity, as its services frees workers from administrative tasks, as well as commutes. Each employee can work from the location that is most convenient, and the business is not restricted to hiring employees who live locally. The virtual office arrangement thus expands job options for employees and hiring options for businesses.
Advantages of Virtual Office
Working From Home
Over the past decade working from home has developed into an acceptable way to conduct business, especially among freelancers and new business owners. Working from home is no longer seen as a business solution, but a lifestyle choice.
There’s a common misconception associated around home-based businesses that workers are detached from the real world. This misconception can drive clients away from conducting business with you, as many of them would rather visit a well-known office address and contact an office phone number. Clients and leads see this as security, which is exactly what virtual offices can provide.
Small to Medium Sized Businesses
Small businesses and start-ups are often eager to expand, but don’t have the capital to justify having an “official” office space. Regardless of the reason, moving to a prestigious address is often a priority. When this isn’t possible a virtual office is perfect for the first stages of business development.
If you have a virtual office and want to move into a traditional office space, operators such as ourselves, may be able to provide a physical office in the same location as your registered address, which can save you hassle changing your information on business cards and promotional materials.
Many corporate empires use virtual offices to establish a presence in a new location and test local markets. Because a virtual office doesn’t require workers to physically be at the office; relocation costs are saved.
When it comes to testing new markets, ‘A/B testing’ is one of the most effective methods. This process revolves around testing two areas of business and comparing the results. You can use virtual offices to A/B test different locations if you are unsure which areas to target.
Reduced Transportation Costs
Transportation is often a huge expense. Virtual offices significantly cut down transportation costs, which allow you to invest your money elsewhere. This also increases job satisfaction as employees don’t have to invest their own money in commuting.
Many employees struggle to work efficiently when they constantly have managers looking over their shoulder. While virtual offices make it difficult for you to keep an eye on your staff, the level of productivity is often increased as workers feel more relaxed and engaged.
Good quality operators will provide administrative support as and when it’s required. With virtual offices, you can hire people for administrative support, without having to hire somebody on a permanent basis and avoid getting tangled up in employment legislation.
Savings on Office Equipment
Buying office equipment is one of the largest overhead expenses that you can incur. In many instances, printers, fax machines, copiers, etc., are only required on a temporary basis, which doesn’t make them a viable investment. Most virtual offices will allow you to use these services on a pay-as-you-go basis, which can result in phenomenal savings.
Virtual offices can equip your business with the support you need to progress forward and expand, without the excessive overheads associated with moving into a traditional office space.
Corporate identity is the way in which your business is perceived. It’s very important to build an identity which coincides with your primary business objectives. Having a distinct corporate identity will:
- help others distinguish your business among competitors
- strengthen your brand
- make you more approachable
Location is one of the most important elements of corporate identity, and people will often judge you based on what they see. If you work from home or in an undesirable location, virtual offices can help you bypass this problem. For example, if you own a web development company, but would prefer to keep your working location discreet, you could register your business in an area known for the industry, such as “Tech City” in Shoreditch. This will give your clients more faith in your business.
Virtual offices can strengthen your corporate identity by allowing you to have a prestigious office address and phone number on your business cards and website, etc.
According to SmallBusiness.co.uk, 74% of virtual offices in London are based in either the West End or the Central areas of the city – this proves how highly businesses regard their company profile.
When a business has national clientele, they will often employ people who are geographically spread. While it’s necessary to have a reputable point of contact, a full-scale office isn’t always financially viable. Having a virtual office can further strengthen your corporate identity if you’re considering national expansion.
When you search for a virtual office, choose a location that will compliment your business model and enhance your professional image.
Building your corporate identity isn’t purely for image purposes; it can also help you meet compliance demands from creditors, lenders and suppliers. Many companies will refuse credit to home-based businesses; however, if you operate from an office location on paper, then you may be entitled to such benefits. If you plan on applying for credit, ensure that all of your business information is uniform across the board and registered to your business address.
Expansion is an exciting prospect; however, it can easily lead to adverse effects if you don’t have the finances to adapt to the changes. Virtual offices can not only help your business appear bigger than it is, but can also pave the way for expansion and provide a backbone of support at a fraction of the price.
Contrary to popular belief, expansion isn’t only defined by the increased size of your office space, it relates to all aspects of your business, including number of employees, profit margins and clientele. Virtual offices may not provide a physical office space; however, they can assist with other aspects of expansion at a significantly reduced cost.
Virtualisation is about extracting the most out of your business without incurring excessive costs. Their pay-as-you-go infrastructure makes them perfect for expansion as you won’t have to commit to long-term lease agreements and will save money on overheads, maintenance costs, and full time staff.
If you’re business is expanding, but you’re hesitant about hiring new staff, virtual office operators can provide pay-as-you-go services such as telephone answering, virtual assistants and reception workers. Hiring workers from a virtual office can be far more cost efficient and limits the risk if your expansion efforts don’t work out.
Many large scale corporations use virtual offices in order to research new markets without excessive expenditure. Taking their methods on board is recommended if you’d like to open a branch of your business in a new location.
Whether you’re looking to expand your business locally, nationally or internationally, virtual offices can help you achieve your goals with minimal investment.
Disadvantages of Virtual Office
Some of the services a virtual office arrangement offers require some pre-planning to utilize. For example, many packages come with limited use of conference rooms or limited teleconferencing and video conferencing services. Virtual offices also may have restricted access on nights and weekends. Users may find the lack of flexibility limiting and inconvenient. There is also the potential for distractions that come with working from home.
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