More business owners suddenly realized how wasteful renting an office full time can be. From the lonely weekends at the office to closing during national holidays and even the daily lunch break, most offices are severely underutilized at the expense of business owners who pay for them round-the-clock.
However, even with the massive shift to remote working, most businesses still require some elements of the traditional office, including:
- Periodic access to meeting rooms
- A fixed address
- A means to send/receive mail
And while most businesses may not need these elements all the time, they are still essential nonetheless. So how exactly should businesses affordably capitalize on the flexibility of remote working while retaining select elements of a traditional office (hint: by shifting to virtual offices)?
What Are Virtual Offices And Why Do Modern Businesses Need Them?
The virtual office as a concept has been around for some time – 1995, to be specific. Despite its name, a virtual office combines people, technologies, a venue, and processes to enable businesses to work more efficiently, typically in a remote setting.
Essentially, virtual office services provide a fixed business address and occasional meeting rooms away from the venue’s employees usually do their work. It is a convenient and cost-effective way for business owners, consultants, contractors, and freelancers to access a host of administrative services without renting any office space. Virtual office services are very flexible, and clients can add or subtract the features available depending on their needs.
What Are The Physical And Virtual Elements Of A Virtual Office?
- Fixed Business Address
The backbone of a virtual office is a fixed address at a physical building. You can use this address for official purposes like LLC setup and business licensing and regular functions like mail and marketing.
- Office Space/Meeting Rooms
As a virtual office user, you get on-demand access to physical workspaces, including private offices and meeting rooms. Access is often charged by the day or by the hour.
- On-site Receptionist
On-site receptionists handle all things mail processing. If you set up a meeting at your virtual office, the on-site receptionist will organize the meeting room and welcome your guests.
- Mail Pickup, Processing, And Forwarding
If you wish, an on-site receptionist can receive and sign for your mail. Forwarding it to alternate addresses, e.g., your home, might cost an additional fee.
- Copy and Print Amenities
Just like traditional offices, virtual offices have an on-site copy and print machines. These facilities, however, usually come at an extra fee.
- Digital Mail
Some virtual office providers offer digital scanning services so their clients can preview scanned copies of their mail before choosing to have it forwarded or discarded.
- Business Phone System
Thanks to virtual phone services, you can choose a business number with a local area code and enjoy cloud-based phone features like caller menus, auto attendants, custom greetings, and extensions.
- Remote Receptionist
Live receptionists can offer basic customer service, answer calls (in your company name) and take messages on your behalf.
Why Do Modern Businesses Need Virtual Offices?
Renting office space is a costly commitment that demands round-the-clock payment regardless of how much you use the workspace. This commitment is not viable for small companies, let alone independent contractors.
Businesses approach virtual offices differently based on their unique pain points such as:
- A push to work from home
- Avoiding real estate commitments
- Establishing a presence in different towns
- Acquiring a fixed address without renting an office
Regardless of the motives, the demand for virtual offices all boils down to a need for cost efficiency, flexibility, and lifestyle improvements. Most modern businesses need virtual offices for one or more of the following reasons.
1. To Save Money
Brick and mortar businesses make the bulk of the office rental market. By eliminating rental costs, your business can have more than enough left over for all the elements needed to create a perfect virtual office.
2. To Facilitate Remote Work
Virtual offices are a gateway to remote work – you get to retain the standard office elements your value without committing to a permanent workspace. A virtual office is like a ‘location tether’ for a business that allows its team to work from wherever they deem most productive.
Modern business leaders deeply value operational agility. Since workplaces represent one of the greatest cost commitments for the average business, it pays tremendously to have on-demand access to office space (and any accompanying facilities) only when needed.
4. To Build Credit
Having a commercially recognized address not only adds legitimacy to your business but also helps to build credit. You can use a virtual office address to open bank accounts, set up an LLC, and register for business licenses, among other business operation and growth necessities.
5. To Create A Professional Image
Small businesses and independent contractors who maintain virtual offices appear more professional, established, and reputable than they might actually be.
The Bottom Line
For the average modern business, having a thriving online presence and the ability to operate remotely has become a necessity. However, that does not discount the importance of a physical workplace. Thankfully, it is now possible to access workplaces on-demand without committing to financially unviable rental agreements thanks to virtual offices.