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What is a Virtual Office?

November 9, 2011

What is a Virtual Office?  The virtual office concept evolved from executive suites industry, it came from the greater need to have more flexibility than what executive suites offered. (1)

A Virtual Office usually is comprised of a space aspect such as: professional address, mail address, meeting space, and other services such as reception courtesies and business services.  The concept is designed so that you can work from home but still have the image of a professional business.

You are able to have all mail, packages and hand delivered items sent to your virtual office.  This not only makes your business look professional, but there are several other benefits.  If you are doing marketing, having an address that is easily found on search engines or will come up higher due to a specific zip code will help your business to be found quicker.  Not having to publish your home address not only looks more professional but it is also important for security reasons.

You are also able to meet with clients, investors or constituents in the meeting space, which most often includes all the amenities you need to have a professional meeting, such as internet, audio video equipment, conference call capability and video conferencing equipment. The great thing about the meeting space is you typically only have to pay for it when you use it, which eliminates the need to purchase expensive equipment that you might use rarely.

Most virtual offices will have a staff member on site that is available to assist you while you are at the location. They can help make copies, sort your mail, assist you while you are having a meeting, and complete other administrative work.  When it comes to administrative services, the staff member can do anything from word pressing, data entry, presentations, binding, organizing your CRM, to sending out documents.

It is important when looking for a virtual office that you do not choose just based on the cheapest option. Not all virtual offices are the same, and not all of them offer the same options; you need to pick one that suits you, your business and you clients. When choosing a virtual office you need to consider the following: How does it look? Is the image the type of image you want to represent your business?  Is it easy for your client to find, and easy to get in and out of? Sometimes you might find a location close to your house, and you may think, “This will be easy for me to get to!” But you need to consider your clients. For example, if you have clients that may not be mobile due to age or disability, then make sure that the location has plenty of close parking and ramps. Another item to consider is what type of options you require in regards to meeting space.  Some businesses meet during normal business hours, but other businesses may have extended nighttime hours. For example, if you are a therapist or in real estate, you may meet with clients after 5pm, and not all virtual offices offer 24 hour access. Also consider if the address is advantageous to those clients that might be searching for you online. If a potential client is searching in Google for an ‘Orlando Attorney,’ you would want to have a virtual office with a zip code of 32801, which is the first zip code listed for Orlando.

A virtual office is a great tool to help your business grow while offering minimal overhead cost.  Most virtual offices cost anywhere between $50-$200 a month. Virtual offices offer a great solution for those business owners who want to work from home but also need a professional image for the business. If you use the tips given above, you will easily be able to find the right virtual office for you.

Alexis Daly, Sales Manager at 317 Virtual Services, LLC.

References

  1. MacDonald, Peter; “Future Office ‘Virtually’ Here”. BCBR May 1996, Vol. 15, Issue #5.
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