Virtual offices provide an atmosphere of professionalism in an increasingly less formal work world.
Let’s face it, amid today’s evolving employment environment, working from home or from a virtual office setting can make perfect sense. After all, traditional office spaces were often constructed around a need to be close to the manufacturing floor, the medical files, the showroom, etc., as well as the need to share expensive office equipment and staff.
But for a growing number of jobs, this no longer holds true. Today, some look at the office as an inconvenience where commuting, the water cooler and endless meetings are seen as inefficient time sucks. Many of us are better suited to do our job with a laptop, a wireless connection and a quiet nook. Which is why some of the world’s biggest brands boast humble beginnings from spare bedrooms, garages and coffee shops.
You might be surprised to learn, however, that many of those successful companies born of humble beginnings knew enough to establish a formal business address through Business Identity Plans offered at professional office centers like oHive. Bottomline Technologies, one of New Hampshire’s most well-established public companies, had just this type of start. Ask Jim Loomis or Dan McGurl, Bottomline co-founders, why they needed an office center and they’ll tell you the professional façade enabled them to start a world-class business from the beaches of Bermuda.
It’s fairly obvious why the appearance of having an office is important. When customers are asked to give a reason why they buy products and services, the answer most often given is “trust.” Especially when it comes to buying services. It’s hard to establish that trust when “Let’s meet to sign that contract” ends with “at Starbucks” or “Send me a check” ends with “at 123 Blueberry Terrace” or “We’d like to interview you tomorrow” ends with “in our garage.” So, though you may be able to work from home, your business, for many reasons, needs a professional home of its own. Virtual offices are an economical way to have your cake and eat it too.
Virtual offices, also known as “business identities,” provide a professional business address in a desirable location, administrative and reception support, access to conference rooms and business equipment, and more — without the extravagant costs of leasing, staffing and outfitting an office. Establishing a virtual office is the most affordable way to convey a polished business identity that instills confidence in clients while you work from home, the beach or wherever you choose.
How Virtual Offices Function
Virtual offices entail paying a monthly fee, which can be month-to-month, in exchange for a variety of business services that vary depending on the provider you select. These services, which can be purchased a la carte or as a package, typically include the use of the provider’s address, a corporate plaque on their business directory, mail-handling, a local phone and fax number, call-answering and transferring, internet and IT infrastructure, and administrative support. You can also choose to utilize the provider’s conference rooms or co-working space on an as-needed basis at a special rate. Should you host meetings at the provider’s location, coffee, tea and beverage services are provided and you’ll have use of all common areas including a kitchen and a well-appointed reception area where clients will be greeted by a receptionist.
Four Key Benefits of Virtual Offices
- Professional Image: An address at a well-regarded business location, where your calls are professionally answered by receptionists who appear to work for your company (or a voicemail service when they are off duty), helps convey an image of your business as being legitimate and trustworthy. This is reinforced by your ability to host meetings in state-of-the-art conference rooms at your virtual office provider’s location, where your clients are met by professional support staff and provided with an assortment of beverages.
- Cost Savings: You won’t be paying for a monthly lease or a costly office buildout, and you’ll avoid many of the costs of running an office such as maintenance, cleaning and utilities. In addition, you won’t be paying for a receptionist, answering service, commuting and parking. If you actually work from your home, you will also still be able to write off costs related to doing so on your taxes. The money you save can be invested into growing your business.
- Flexibility: If you need to temporarily work out of an actual office, your virtual office provider likely offers a co-working office rental option. In addition, as you hire new employees, you won’t need to look to expand to a larger office space. Instead, they can utilize your virtual office provider the way you do in order to ensure business image consistency.
- Time Savings: Your virtual office means zero commuting time. You’ll also be free from the time-consuming administrative responsibilities of leasing and managing an office space. All this saved time can be invested in sales efforts or servicing clients.
Virtual offices are ideal for remote workers, small businesses and freelancers, as well as for larger companies seeking to establish a presence in a new market. They give your business the identity, administrative support and access to meeting rooms that it needs to succeed at an affordable cost.