Virtual offices offer a range of services including telephone answering services, meeting space and mail forwarding
Virtual offices allow companies to establish a professional and reputable real-world presence without the high costs of renting and staffing commercial property.
What are virtual offices?
Virtual offices combine off-site live communication, such as telephony, with address management services such as mail forwarding. Virtual offices are run by dedicated companies that provide these services to many companies from the same physical location. Virtual offices typically do not require a lease, although some companies may require you to sign up for a specified amount of time.
What are virtual offices used for?
Businesses use virtual offices to avoid the significant overheads of renting and maintaining office space whilst still gaining the benefits that a real-world presence can bring to a firm. Some businesses use virtual offices for one specific feature, such as dedicated call handling, whilst others want a full-service office that allows them the freedom to move around whilst still building goodwill and a professional reputation.
What services do virtual offices offer?
Virtual offices provide a range of related services in areas such as telephony and address management. This is a comprehensive list of services that not all virtual offices will provide.
- Remote receptionists – teams of workers who act as virtual receptionists for your business, taking calls and directing enquiries
- Virtual assistants – virtual assistants differ from receptionists in that answering calls is just one of the services they provide to businesses. They may also handle email, research, diary management and provide typing services
- Answering services – virtual offices can scale requirements to provide full call centres for businesses
- Reception courtesies – virtual receptionists can sign for packages, drop off documents and parcels and in some cases provide notary and witness services
- Meeting space – meeting rooms and boardrooms can be hired out, normally by the hour, at attractive rates
- Workspace – workspace can be rented, typically by the hour, when you’re unable to work from your normal office
- Reputable address – a professional address can add authority to your business without the overheads of occupying a building. Firms often use this service to expand into new markets with a virtual presence
- Mailing address – Professional addresses can be used to receive, send and forward correspondence to any other address. Many firms use this address as a forwarding service to their physical office
- Fax machines
- Copy and scan functionality
- Conference calling
- Video conference calling
Choosing a virtual office
Draw up a shortlist of virtual offices based on your requirements, bearing in mind that some will focus more on one service than others. For example, virtual offices that occupy a particularly prestigious address may put more emphasis on address management than call forwarding. Make sure the company you use is able to fulfil your needs. Ask to view testimonials and speak to current clients, and inspect the virtual office premises to ensure the client-facing side fits in with your brand and image.