What is a virtual office?
If you’re in the process of starting your own business, you’ll soon need to think about where you want to be located.
Traditionally, as a new company owner, you will look to rent an office in the area you want to serve. But this can be a costly option, especially if you’re a new start-up with limited capital.
Cash-conscious entrepreneurs are increasingly choosing virtual offices over physical offices, as it allows them to work remotely – often from home – while still having an ‘official’ local business address to their name.
Remember, a virtual office address shouldn’t be confused with a service address.
The case for getting a virtual office address
All the features of a physical office with fewer costs
One of the biggest reasons to get a virtual address is, you can get all the benefits of having a physical location, without paying additional overheads.
As well as being provided with a mailing address – which allows you to send and receive post at a secure location – you can often choose to pay for additional phone and voicemail services, printing services, and even a shared receptionist, who will be trained to answer calls as if they are a part of your company. All these features will make your company appear much more professional and credible from day one.
Some virtual address providers host co-working and meeting room spaces, too, so you’ll have somewhere you can hire for chats with colleagues, suppliers, and clients.
No daily commute
Forget jumping on a jam-packed train first thing in the morning or battling through rush-hour traffic every day of your working week. As long as you have the right equipment and a good WiFi connection to hand, you can work from wherever you like when you have a virtual office address – even the comfort of your own living room, if you want to. You’ll save a lot of money on fuel or public transport, and you may find that you’re more productive when you have the flexibility to switch up your working environment as you please.
Expand into new markets with ease
If you want to find new customers in a different area, purchasing a virtual office address can allow you to start building a presence in this region without setting up shop miles away from your HQ.
The downsides of running a virtual office
No space for staff or clients
If you don’t rent your own physical office, you will never have a permanent base for your team. Even though fully remote working is increasingly becoming the norm, it’s no secret that remote staff take longer to bond, which means you may struggle to create strong relationships and develop that all-important company culture. You could of course combat this by arranging regular team socials in different venues – but it’s often difficult to keep staff wholly engaged without regular face-to-face interactions.
You’ll also need to consider how far you may need to travel for meetings if you can’t invite your clients to your own premises. You’ll need to pay for the journey, plus other related expenses, such as accommodation and food.
An unsettled work/life balance
In our view, this is both an advantage and a disadvantage.
Living and working in the same location can blur the lines somewhat, resulting in fewer boundaries in terms of how many hours you are willing to work, and leading to longer working days. Plus, you may benefit from having time to get into ‘work mode’ during your morning commute and decompress after a hectic day on the way back.
Some people thrive when they’re working from home, while others struggle to separate their professional life from their home life or feel too isolated when they’re away from the typical office environment. If you know you’re someone who would rather clean the kitchen than tackle that tricky project, you may want to invest in a dedicated workspace instead of setting up in your spare room.