Virtual office vs. virtual assistant
22nd June 2020

Remote working, virtual meetings and online hangouts are becoming more popular and necessary as we find our footing in the “new normal”. Companies have been forced to pivot their business models at an unprecedented rate thanks to the restrictions lockdown has imposed, and by far the biggest part of this movement has been towards remote working.

Virtual offices have been the affordable alternative for self-employed workers seeking ways to grow their brand with minimal overheads. Freelancers and home-based businesses, although in the throes of an uncertain time, have the upper hand in terms of remote working protocol. They understand the benefits of running their operation from home, as well as the elements that are needed to keep their business running smoothly.

Two important parts of running an effective remote-based business lie in the impression your brand gives off, and how well you manage the behind-the scenes aspects such as clerical duties. Any business owner understands the vital role these two aspects play, but how do they tie in together?

In this article, we explain the differences between a virtual office and a virtual assistant – how they differ, how they work together and how they can be a great complimentary effort.

What is a virtual office?

A virtual office provides a service that allows business owners to work wherever they’d like, whilst providing many of the benefits of a traditional office. It allows the normal functioning of a business on a remote basis, whilst retaining a presence in a location of your choice at a fraction of the cost of traditional office rental.

When you work through a virtual office, you’ll have access to your own business address that can be used for correspondence between yourself, clients, stakeholders, and customers. You continue to operate from a primary location – typically from home – while all correspondence is channelled through your virtual address.

Virtual offices also offer registered addresses – particularly important for limited companies – and used on Companies House.

Your virtual office service can also carry out various administrative tasks on your behalf, including:

  • Mail scanning and forwarding
  • Telephone answering
  • A registered address
  • A local or national phone number
  • Meeting rooms

Should you need to meet clients face-to-face, virtual offices typically have dedicated meeting rooms that can be booked out at your convenience.

What is a virtual assistant?

A virtual assistant is a person who provides support services to other businesses from a remote location. Virtual assistants provide clerical services, marketing, web design, bookkeeping, and other services.

Specialist virtual assistants focus on a specific skill set – like a marketing virtual assistant who only does marketing-related work, while others are more generalist in the tasks they take on. They traditionally run their own home-based virtual assistant business, carrying out work for multiple other businesses.

How do virtual offices and virtual assistants work together?

Many virtual assistants may choose to work through a virtual office – as they themselves are freelancers. You’ll also notice that virtual office providers offer supporting services for their virtual and physical tenants – such as mail forwarding and telephone answering. So, what is the point of having a virtual assistant if these bases are covered?

The answer lies in the level of support your business needs. Is there simply a demand for your calls to be patched through to you or answered on your behalf when you’re busy? Or do you require someone to be more hands-on in assisting you through your daily tasks?

Perhaps the easiest comparison we can draw is that of a receptionist vs an office assistant. A receptionist would answer calls, greet guests, take messages, and hold your incoming mail – similar to the offering of virtual office support services.

An office assistant might handle your diary management, be responsible for contacting prospects to set up meetings, handle your social and online presence and assist you in drafting up proposal letters or reports. This is more within the remit of a virtual assistant.

Regardless of your needs, a virtual office is an excellent place to start when you’re looking to build up your business image and brand. Virtual HQ is proud to offer some of the most prestigious virtual addresses across the UK, and we’d be delighted to help you find your ideal location.

Get in touch with us today for more info!