Virtual Offices Guide
Renting a physical office space isn’t always a practical option for start-ups, entrepreneurs and small businesses. Working from a remote location usually saves on unwarranted overheads and makes more sense in logistical terms.
Instead of using a PO Box or home address, renting a virtual office allows these types of business to project a more professional image, without the expense of paying for a physical space. Below we explain how a virtual office works and why it may be the ideal choice for your business.
WHAT IS A VIRTUAL OFFICE?
A virtual office provides a fixed address, along with a range of key business functions without the need to pay for a physical office space. It allows smaller businesses - unable to afford the cost of commercial real estate - to uphold the credibility of their brand without expensive overheads.
It is particularly popular with entrepreneurs and freelancers who are able to work from a remote location while projecting a permanent business address. Although it may vary depending on the provider, you will usually be provided with a dedicated business telephone number, reception support and postal services.
WHY RENT A VIRTUAL OFFICE?
Renting a virtual office offers businesses a number of advantages, such as:
- Enhanced reputation: A virtual office allows you to start small while projecting a larger image. It could make all the difference in the type of clients you attract and can enable you to make a fast start in your respective field.
- Business services: If you need to arrange a meeting for an existing or prospective client, a virtual office will provide meeting rooms that can be booked as and when you need.
- Work flexibility: You are not tied into one location when it comes to business operations. That gives you the freedom to work wherever you want without losing the support your business needs to thrive.
- Cost effective: Not only will a virtual office save on rental costs, but you won’t have to spend money on travelling to and from a fixed address. It also saves on travel time, giving you more working hours during the day, if needed.
- Improved communication: Running a small business can sometimes mean important calls are missed when you are unavailable or in meetings. Your business phone number will be answered by a receptionist, with call forwarding options and messaging also available.
When hiring a virtual office, you should expect to receive the following:
- Business postal address: Instead of using a PO Box or home address, a fixed commercial address instantly improves the image of the company for your client base.
- Receptionist: They will answer calls, patch through enquiries and take messages, while callers will be given the impression you are both working out of the same building.
- Meeting rooms: Organise important meetings in a professional meeting room for existing and prospective clients.
- Postal services: Any post that is sent to your business address can be opened, scanned and emailed across, so you never miss an important letter or notice. Alternatively, they can be forwarded to an address of your choice, or stored for you to collect at a later date.
- More privacy: Not everyone running a business from home wants their private address to appear online. Using a virtual office allows you to avoid that happening, keeping important private details secure.
Some providers may provide additional services, and you can ask about this when making an enquiry.
IS A VIRTUAL OFFICE RIGHT FOR MY BUSINESS?
A number of different factors will determine whether or not a virtual office is the right choice for your business. Ultimately, only you know what is right for your company, but you should weigh up the following:
- Cost: For start-ups in particular, this is usually one of the most important things to consider. Virtual offices are usually a cheaper option compared to operating out of a physical space. Of course, larger companies providing a virtual office for remote staff may not have to worry too much about this.
- Practicality: If you run the sort of business that regularly needs to meet with clients, then a virtual office may not be the best option. It could mean having to regularly travel to and from the meeting rooms, which will quickly run up travel costs and more. In this case a co-working option may be worth considering.
- Company image: For some business owners, image is everything, especially if you are selling a premium product or service that depends heavily on how you are perceived in the market. Using a virtual office allows you to cut some corners to become competitive against similar companies without being weighed down by expensive overheads.
- Productivity: Not everyone feels they can maximise their productivity when working away from a physical office. This is very much a personal decision that depends on how confident you feel working remotely on a daily basis.
- Hiring requirements: In the short term a virtual office could be the perfect solution. You should also consider how you will operate when you want to expand and need to hire additional staff to sustain the growth of your business. Staff may also be something you need from the very start, so think about hiring requirements, how you will communicate efficiently if not working in the same physical space and relevant management processes.
HOW DO I PAY FOR A VIRTUAL OFFICE?
There are a variety of different payment options available for virtual offices, all of which will largely depend on the requirements of the business and the payment terms of the individual provider.
Most providers allow options to pay upfront, on a rolling monthly contract, or monthly/quarterly via a fixed-term contract. This gives you the control and flexibility to operate as you need and budget effectively.
Another factor to take into consideration is the location of the address you will be using for the virtual office. The prices will work in a similar way to a physical address, meaning the more prestigious the location, the higher the price will be.
Combined with the type of services you want to use – ranging from simple postal services through to the regular hiring of meeting rooms – costs can vary across the board.
Looking for virtual office space? At Prime Office Search we have a variety of flexible office spaces available to suit all business sizes and requirements. Browse our office spaces online or call us on 08004337888 and one of our experienced consultants will help you find the ideal office space for your business.