Traditionally, offices were a place where people would go from 9-5 and sit at a desk with a computer. Along with the creation of new types of businesses, many entrepreneurs and freelancers are dreaming up new places to complete their work. This means that more people may choose to work from home, opt for flexible workspace, or decide to travel for work.
Here’s why a virtual office could be just what you’re looking for!
A virtual office provides businesses with a real street address for mailing and presentation purposes, without the expense of maintaining and staffing a full office. Virtual offices are great solutions for small businesses, freelancers, or professionals that spend a majority of their time on the road or work remotely from home or other locations.
While coworking offices other flexible workspaces offer plug & play services, equipment, and a professional community to support day-to-day productivity, a virtual office strips all this down to a professional address where mail and most deliveries can be received and stored for future pickup. Depending on the plan, additional mail services such as scanning and forwarding or weeding out junk mail may be included, or the location may offer on-demand options such as meeting room rentals, day offices, or coworking lounge passes that can be used on an as-needed basis. This allows businesses to establish a professional presence quickly and cost-effectively, and grow into additional services as they need them. As their businesses grow and needs change, virtual office users often eventually graduate into coworking clients or private offices in the same locations that initially served their virtual office needs.
Virtual Office Advantages & Disadvantages
There are a variety of reasons a business may want to invest in a virtual office service. Many utilize them for home-based businesses, as a headquarters for road warriors, or as the first step toward geographic expansion. Virtual offices provide an easy way to establish a first foothold in a market while operations are being established and local staff hired. Benefits of the service include:
- Establish a presence in a local market
- Improve rankings within local search results
- Project a professional image and build credibility for your business
- Protect privacy and personal information, alleviating security and spam concerns, as an alternative to using a home address
- May satisfy legal, zoning, or compliance requirements, such as CAN-SPAM’s requirement that every marketing message include a physical postal address
- May reduce liability by reinforcing the “corporate veil” that limits personal liability for corporate debts and obligations
- Gain access to professional grade technology and workspaces such as conference rooms and common areas for meetings, client visits, or conference calls
- Save money versus purchasing conventional or flexible office space
There are also a few tradeoffs to keep in mind:
- A virtual office includes no access to dedicated or shared workspace, nor the services provided with them, for example, internet access, printing, copying, and scanning
- While physical workspace can often be utilized on an as-needed basis for additional fees, it must typically be reserved in advance and may be limited by availability or to certain days of the week and times of the day
- Deliveries may be subject to limitations for example in size and type, and pickups may need to be scheduled ahead of time and limited to normal business hours
Virtual Office Examples
You may be wondering, how does a brand actually take advantage of a virtual office?
- Solopreneurs. Many entrepreneurs need a professional address to register their business while continuing to work from a home office. By using a virtual office service, they can keep their home address out of public databases, maintaining their privacy and helping keep their contact information away from solicitors and spammers.
- Virtual businesses. Online businesses need to put on a professional face with a legitimate address, but they also don’t need a physical location since much of the work can be done online. They may also need mailboxes for receiving supplies or sending out packages.
- Multi-location businesses. Some businesses want to create the impression of a national presence, without the cost and effort of maintaining full offices in each one. For example, a telephone answering business can outsource services or have them all redirect to a single location, but a physical business address may still be necessary to comply with some laws.
- Freelancers. Many freelancers prefer to work from home but run into problems when they need to have a meeting with a client. Instead of touring a messy apartment, virtual offices allow freelancers to host clients in a professional conference environment, and even treat them to snacks, (free!) tea and coffee provided in the kitchen.
- Startups. Some startups want to save on money in the initial phases, while also utilizing a virtual office for tax purposes, delivery of supplies, and on-demand collaboration space. Virtual offices help keep businesses looking legitimate on a budget.
How Much Is A Virtual Office?
Virtual offices are more cost-effective than coworking or private office plans, but rates may vary depending on the services needed.
At Expansive virtual office plans start at $59 per month, which covers the use of a business address and mail receiving. There are also plans for $79 per month (which includes mail scanning and forwarding), and $109 per month (which includes monthly conference room access).
To learn about other plans and services, visit Expansive’s page on Virtual Offices.