Telecommuting, third place working, remote work… whatever you call it, business owners and teams are now making the most of mobile technology to stay productive and work on the go, wherever (and whenever) that may be.
It’s a boon for entrepreneurs, not least because it keeps business humming along beyond traditional office hours. As Erika Andersen noted in her article for Forbes (May 2018), “over the past 20 years, the creation of cloud-based technology and the increasing speed and capacity of broadband connection have made real-time communication possible worldwide – and working ‘virtually’ has exploded.”
As the work-anywhere trend has grown, it has prompted a rise in demand for flexible on-demand workspace, remote receptionist services and virtual office space — a service that provides a number of office amenities and business support for distance workers, minus the actual office.
The Virtual Office Explained
What is a virtual office? It’s a combination of services that come together to help businesses and individuals work more efficiently, often in a remote way.
Here’s a list of typical components that can make up all or part of a virtual office plan:
- A business address at an office building
- A place to receive, pick up and/or forward mail
- Conference rooms to host in-person meetings, bookable by the hour or day
- Hot desks or private offices, also bookable by the hour or day
- Copy and faxing services
- A receptionist or on-site customer service representative to greet visitors for meetings
- An online (VoIP) phone system with voicemail, extensions, caller menus and other phone features
- A business phone number, usually with a local area code to match your address
- A remote live receptionist service or virtual assistant
- Various cloud internet services
Basic virtual office plans include two or three of these services, while premium plans might include all of them. It’s designed to be flexible and as you might expect, the cost savings are significant.
The Benefits of Using a Virtual Office
In addition to cost savings, there are plenty more benefits for businesses using a virtual office. Let’s take a look at them.
1. Credibility – having a professional address gives a business the upper hand over competition that doesn’t, and sets the right first impressions. Given the choice between a home-based finance business, and a competing firm with a corporate address at say, 48 Wall Street, which one looks more professional?
2. Operational support – virtual offices provide remote receptionist services, mail redelivery, and other business support services. For small business owners and independent professionals juggling everything from sales and marketing to invoicing, having someone pick up the phone on your behalf saves a huge amount of valuable time.
3. Customer service – having a live receptionist handle client calls and queries dramatically improves your customer service. Unless you’re a trained receptionist yourself, it makes a much better impression if your calls are handled by a professional receptionist who has the time, and the customer service skills, to handle calls in a friendly and professional manner.
4. A place to hold meetings – having a professional, physical space to meet with clients or investors sends out a completely different message to meeting in a cafe or at home. If you’re meeting over a sensitive matter, you need a quiet, private meeting space that’s well-serviced and comes with relevant presentation or conferencing equipment.
5. Improve resource efficiency – when you’re working from home or a coworking space, or you’re out on the road meeting clients, it doesn’t make sense to tie up huge amounts of capital in an office lease that sits empty most of the time. A virtual office gives you access to workspace on-demand, only when you need it, which protects your valuable budget.
Whether you’re looking to grow your business and expand into new markets, or simply manage your time a little better, a virtual office can provide an excellent low-cost, flexible workplace solution for businesses at any stage of the growth journey.