From freelancers to microbusinesses to small companies, virtual offices are becoming more and more common. Decentralized businesses are useful for many companies, and having everyone located in one big building is becoming something that only the very biggest companies need to do.
Do you need a virtual office? How do you go about setting one up?
Understand What a Virtual Office Is and Why You Need One
A virtual office is somewhat self-explanatory; it means that your business does not have a centralized physical location where everyone works. This can work several different ways, however. You could have a that consists of working on your laptop at the local coffee shop; you might rent a coworking space where you have high speed internet access and the ability to use conference rooms and take conference calls, or you might have a very small office where a few core people work while most people telecommute.
Microbusinesses and small businesses often find that virtual offices work well for them when their work can mostly be conducted online, when their employees or contractors are comfortable holding meetings on Skype, communicating across time zones, and “all hands on deck” projects where everyone must work together at the same time are minimal.
Decide What Facilities Your Office Will Need
What your virtual office will look like depends on what your virtual office does. If most of your business is conducted online, you probably just need great internet access and quality computers. You can often contract out services like IT support, accounting, and marketing, so that you need even less of an office footprint. If you hold , you probably just need a quiet room with a professional looking background.
If, however, you conduct a lot of client meetings that need to be held in person, a coworking space with available conference rooms may be a better choice. And if all of your client business is conducted through email, your virtual office can be virtually anywhere.
Consider Who You Will Be Working With
Virtual offices work for companies from the smallest, single person microbusinesses to many small to medium sized enterprises, depending on their focus. But to have a successful virtual office, your employees need to be comfortable working digitally. If you have a currently operating business but not all of your employees are willing to switch to primarily digital work, then moving over to a virtual business will probably not work well.
Get A Virtual Phone Number
Even if your office is primarily virtual, it’s a good idea to get a . This can also be done virtually; you could have your number routed in a number of different ways, allowing you to get work calls anywhere you are.
Some people choose to manage their own phone calls and voicemail, while others find that having a virtual assistant helps them manage incoming messages. Either way, it’s a good idea to have a way for customers and clients to be able to contact you via phone. Even though email, text, chat apps, and social media contacts are more and more common, sometimes it’s just important for a client to be able to pick up a phone and give you a call. This can give your office a more professional feel, even if your virtual office mainly exists in coworking spaces.
Get A Mailing Address
Much like having a phone number, having a mailing address can be an important piece of your business. There are many reasons for this as well; some packages can only be delivered to certain types of addresses, customers may want a way to reach you through the regular mail. If you’re looking for , or through venture capital, you may need something more than your own home address to show the legitimacy of your business.
For many years, businesses had the choice of running their company out of a home office or getting a full-fledged set of offices in a building. Now, virtual offices offer more options for businesses, allowing them to scale properly. A virtual office can work well for a company that is starting to expand, but isn’t yet ready to pay rent on a monthly basis, or to purchase a suite of offices. It can also allow a growing office to have just a few desks in a coworking space while the majority of employees or contractors telecommute. This also gives a company flexibility so that they can grow and shrink as they need to.