The Primer: What is a Virtual Office and How does it Work?

The Primer: What is a Virtual Office and How does it Work?

In a virtual office, technologies, people, places, as well as operations combine to facilitate more efficient functioning of businesses and individuals. Committed companies operate virtual offices to offer businesses with a variety of services from the same physical location. While they generally don’t need a lease, some companies may need you to sign up for a particular time period.

Who uses virtual offices?

While virtual offices may have started off being popular for small businesses as well as independent consultants, it is beneficial for use with larger companies too. Remote workers seeking a more professional work environment can make use of virtual offices, but even larger companies looking for a new location can benefit from using virtual offices.

Freelancers often opt for virtual offices because it gives them access to a professional space, and they can make use of its facilities while safeguarding their home addresses. Similarly, small enterprises and start-ups that are pressed for time due to the long working hours and need for multitasking benefit from using virtual offices.

When it comes to large enterprises, virtual offices are often made use of in multiple locations so that the enterprise can enter new markets and function with ease from different locations without having to pay for a long-term lease for the office.

Meeting at a virtual office space

Services offered by a virtual office

There are various services offered by a virtual office, but the typical ones are as follow.

1. Physical locations/services

  • An office business address
  • A location for mail receipts, pick-ups, and forwards
  • Conference rooms for meetings in person
  • Private offices for use when needed
  • Fax machines
  • Services for copy/printing
  • A receptionist to respond to phone calls and greet any visitors
  • Broadband

2. Digital services

  • VoIP phone system
  • A phone number for business
  • Virtual assistant
  • Voicemail, caller menus, extensions, and phone services
  • Cloud internet services
  • Answering services

Virtual office space

How do virtual offices work?

There are several factors that need to be taken into consideration for the working of a virtual office.

1. Place of work

Virtual offices exist wherever you are to enable you to carry out business from anywhere. Regardless of where you decide, the place of work must be a quiet one that’s free from distractions. While this may prove to be a difficult task if you’re working from home, it’s necessary that you choose a space that you can work efficiently out of to make sure you deliver in terms of business goals.

2. Setup

Depending on the type of work you do, you should determine the setup. If you travel a lot for meetings, you should have a laptop handy that has all your important files and documents so that you never leave anything behind.

Other options for the working of a virtual office include:

  • Black and white as well as color laser printer
  • Inkjet printer – although these don’t work as quickly as laser printers do.
  • Fax machine & scanner
  • A CD burner
  • A DVD writer
  • A removable media storage device
  • A modem for internet use
  • A digital camera if you need to work with a lot of pictures
  • A multi-purpose scanner

3. Software

Virtual offices work with the use of sophisticated software to enable efficient business operations. Options include:

  • Email programs
  • Software for presentations
  • Software for virus protection
  • Word processor
  • Computer maintenance utility program
  • Database as well as spreadsheet programs
  • PDF reader software
  • Editing software for graphics/images
  • Internet browsers

4. Other important equipment

  • Telephone with caller ID
  • Surge protector
  • A big enough desk & comfortable chair

5. Communication tools

In a virtual office, you get to make use of the latest communication technology to get the job done. With advancements in technology taking place every day, there’s always something new to benefit from.

  • Cell phones
  • Wireless web technology
  • Video conferencing
  • Teleconferencing
  • Chat rooms / instant messaging

Man on laptop working from home

6. Internet connection

None of the other fascinating technologies would work well if virtual offices didn’t have good internet connections. A good connection, modem, and satellite internet connection will help you to use all the other technologies, send and receive files, and communicate with others easily.

7. Client meetings

Client meetings can also be held at virtual offices with dedicated rooms and technologies to aid the meetings.

8. Cyber-assistant

Virtual offices provide virtual assistants that can help you out with all tasks related to office functioning. Have a question that needs answering? Just ask your very own virtual assistant and get the answer to it. It’s quick, accurate, and can save you time when you’re trying to go about doing your work properly.

9. Policies for the virtual office

With well laid out policies for the virtual office, worker capability can be standardized, a smooth workflow can be ensured, and employees can be managed efficiently. Such policies pertain to the location of the home office and use of equipment, compatibility of computer software, system login procedures, processes to be followed, and client interaction protocols. While new advancements in technology may bring about a change in some of these, it’s necessary to have a certain guideline or a basic framework to work with to ensure efficient operations.

10. Legal ramifications

There are some legal guidelines when it comes to the working of virtual offices. Local zone ordinances make it necessary for certain types of work to require licenses and permits, so be sure to check with that before getting excited about using a virtual office from your home. You also have to ensure clarity on the tax issues that are applicable when you decide to make use of a virtual office.

Businessman working in a virtual office

Takeaway: Benefits of virtual offices

This article covers a short primer on virtual offices. Your next step would be determining whether such service is the right one for your business. In order to do so, you need to understand the benefits of a virtual office.

Here are some typical benefits to help you decide:

  • You get a legitimate address of a physical office and can safeguard your home address
  • It’s much more eco-friendly since people don’t have to travel to the office, and business gets done digitally.
  • It can reduce fatigue that may result from traveling to a workplace, and this can help to boost employee productivity.
  • It helps to save precious time that would be involved in travelling to the workplace.
  • You can also save money by cutting out on a lot of overhead costs involved in renting a conventional office space, commute, and other related costs.
  • You’re not limited by space constraints, making it possible for a greater number of employees to work.
  • It allows for better work-life balance.
  • Better delegation is made possible, and you can avoid overcrowding the office space with the help of a virtual office.
  • You don’t have to worry about the stress of relocation with a virtual office.
  • Scaling of the business can be done more easily because you don’t have to worry about a lot of the other issues involved in scaling such as space, relocation, staff accommodation.

So, there you go – the benefits of virual offices. Now over to you: Are you ready to take the next step?

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