What is a Virtual Office? The Complete Guide

What exactly is a Virtual Office?

A virtual office is a service that offers businesses an address, access to meeting rooms and a place to receive mail.

It allows business owners working remotely to access office-related services without overhead costs. Employees enjoy the benefits of a serviced office, like a physical address, phone answering services, meeting rooms, and videoconferencing from any location. 

In this guide, we will look at what a virtual office consists of and offers in more detail.

Where Did the Idea of a Virtual Office Come From?

‘The Virtual Office, Inc.’ was founded by Ralph Gregory in 1994 and is known to be the first virtual office service developed. It included business address services, mail handling, and a remote receptionist, all of which allowed organisations to maintain professionalism without having a physical office.

Since then, developments in broadband internet, mobile technology, and cloud computing have resulted in more mainstream adoption of the virtual office.  

Businesses can tailor their experience by creating a package of these services (virtual office package) to support and grow their organisation.

 

Key Features of a Virtual Office

Some of the key services provided are:

• A business address
• Phone call and mail handling
• Access to meeting rooms
• Administrative support 

Advantages of Renting a Virtual Office

Better Value for Money Virtual offices are a cost-effective alternative to conventional office spaces. They require no maintenance or upkeep, so businesses pay significantly less than a standard serviced office.
Flexible Working and Recruitment

Having the option to work from home removes the need to commute. This increased flexibility enhances employees' work-life balance and increases productivity.

Similarly, working remotely allows you to hire skilled individuals from other competitive locations who may not have been initially considered.

Improved Business Image

Access to a prestigious address is excellent for improving your professional image and presenting a trustworthy brand.

Smaller businesses can also appear larger than they are due to professional reception services.

Business Expansion

Virtual offices are suitable for any organisation, ranging from small startups to large corporations.

As mentioned previously, you aren’t renting a physical space or desk for your employees. Fluctuations in staff numbers do not affect the services that you are paying for.

Businesses aiming to expand into new markets worldwide can do so with the additional support provided.

Hassle-free Set-Up

Unlike conventional office spaces, virtual ones can be established almost instantly.

This is very convenient as business operations can commence without delay. In addition, the office-related services take care of time-consuming operational tasks.

Become a More Sustainable Business

Virtual offices remove the need for physical office space, reducing employee greenhouse gas emissions from transport.

By working remotely, you lower your carbon footprint and minimise your environmental impact as an organisation.

 

Services Offered

Virtual offices can sometimes offer different levels of services. 

For example, some virtual office providers may not offer meeting room access or may offer smaller meeting rooms than others. Ensure that you visit available virtual offices to find out if they are well-equipped for face-to-face interactions.

Reputation

You may find it beneficial to research reviews other businesses have left on the virtual offices you are considering, to ensure that your chosen provider offers a reliable service.

In addition, you may want to look at the provider's experience in the industry and how they deal with similar businesses to yours. Those with a long-standing presence are more likely to respond readily to your needs with strong support systems in place.

 

Setting Up a Virtual Office

1. Receiving a Business Address - Once you have chosen a virtual office provider, getting your organisation up and running is relatively simple. You will initially be required to choose your virtual office package with the desired services. Then, you will need to register with the provider using business documents and ID.

2. Registering your Company - After receiving a virtual address and verifying your documents, you can register your business. Once completed, your mail will be directed to your virtual office instead of your home.

3. Choose your Mailing Preferences - Virtual offices usually notify you whenever you have mail to collect. However, if you prefer to have mail forwarded to your home, you can do so at an additional cost.

4. Planning for the Future – If you work with multiple customer bases and teams in different areas, we recommend renting multiple virtual offices to deal with each separately.

 

Which Businesses Suit a Virtual Office?

Smaller Businesses and Entrepreneurs

Virtual offices would suit organisations with fewer staff members that cannot afford or want to rent a physical office. The money saved when renting a virtual office rather than a conventional one will have a large impact on organisations. Without being burdened by a traditional office lease, entrepreneurs can have access to administrative services.

Virtual Offices are a cost-effective option for all businesses. They have been popularised by entrepreneurs and larger companies due to the packages they provide and their lack of overhead costs.

Larger Organisations

Virtual offices can suit larger businesses, too, as they are great for expanding into global markets. Well-established companies can take advantage of remote working when renting a virtual workspace. 

By setting up in multiple locations, larger organisations can tap into various markets and customer bases without renting more physical office space.

 

How Much do Virtual Offices Cost?

The price of a virtual office varies depending on the location you are interested in and the services you are looking for. Typical prices can range from £20 upwards.

Basic Plans (from £20 to £50 per month):

Services included:

• Business address
• Basic administrative support
• Mail handling

 

Mid-Tier Plans (from £60 to £100 per month):

Services available:

• Mail forwarding
• Call handling
• Limited meeting room access

 

Premium Plans (£110 and above per month):

Services included:

• Dedicated phone lines
• Virtual assistants
• Frequent meeting room access
• Extensive administrative support

 

The Future of Virtual Offices

In recent years, remote working has sharply increased in popularity due to rapid technological advancements. We predict virtual offices will start integrating advanced technologies like cloud computing and AI, providing more sophisticated services for businesses renting their packages.   

Some examples of these technologies may include improved customer service with virtual assistance in administrative services. 

Other examples include potential virtual meeting services and in-person meeting rooms that allow for interactive environments during business meetings. Once VR and AR become more established in the workplace, this could be possible.

The popularity of virtual offices is unlikely to dwindle, as several factors, such as cost savings and environmental concerns, have influenced its sudden rise in popularity.

 

Key Takeaways

• Virtual offices provide organisations with business addresses and other office-related services, such as phone handling and administrative support.

• Compared to conventional offices, virtual offices are cheaper, making them popular among smaller businesses.

• They are suitable for all businesses due to their flexibility and remote work arrangements, making hiring and expanding into new areas easier.

• Recent technological developments have resulted in a rapid increase in the usage of virtual offices, with video conferencing and virtual assistants improving remote working and in-person business meetings.

• Their popularity will likely continue increasing with administrative services integrating AI into their operations.


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