Flexible workspaces have been a growing feature of the business landscape for many years – a trend that COVID-19 has certainly sped up. A YouGov survey has shown that the evolution in working practices enforced by the coronavirus pandemic has given even more of the British workforce a thirst for working more flexibly: 57% now want to work from home.
It all goes to show that the office of the future looks very different. Virtual offices are just one of a growing suite of flexible workspace solutions that are enabling businesses and entrepreneurs to adapt to our new working reality in a cost-effective way.
Jump to a topic that interests you the most or browse our whole guide:
- What is a virtual office?
- How does a virtual office work?
- What services are included in our Virtual Office offering?
- What are the benefits of a virtual office?
- Who is a virtual office suitable for?
What is a virtual office?
A virtual office offers a physical address, along with optional business administration and support services, minus the costs associated with renting office space and administrational employees.
When you hire a traditional office, you pay for a room or a floor in a building from which to conduct your business operations. You can use this physical address on all official company marketing and correspondence, as well as receive post and incoming calls to this location.
A virtual office gives you almost all the same services as a traditional workspace, minus the fact that you don’t actually make use of that physical office space, allowing you to work from wherever you want whilst keeping a stable official business address. Obviously, the monthly cost reflects this, with virtual offices available to rent for as little as £30 per month.
How does a virtual office work?
You can run a business remotely from any location in the world, while keeping a stable address and accessing crucial business administration services, such as telephone answering by a professional receptionist and mail forwarding to your chosen destination. You can even use the office as your registered address with HMRC.
Equipment you need for your virtual office
As a remote worker, it’s important to emulate a real working office environment wherever you are to ensure you complete tasks to the fullest. Whilst the services you hire are being carried out on your behalf, you only really need a couple of things to get set up to run your virtual office:
1. A telephone and/or mobile
Many virtual offices provide a telephone answering service – giving you more time to work on your business tasks whilst ensuring you always pick up messages and calls.
It’s also handy to have a mobile that allows for mobile hotspot tethering for when you’re on the go and can’t access a decent Wi-Fi connection from your laptop.
2. Decent internet connection
As you’d be working remotely – especially if working from home – you need to ensure you have reliable internet speed. This ensures any online calls you receive have enough bandwidth to carry out the call successfully, which is imperative in the age of video calls, google docs and social media.
What services are included in our Virtual Office offering?
Just because you don’t own or rent office space, you still can benefit from many of the facilities you would expect to have in a traditional office environment.
Your virtual office service can also carry out various administrative tasks on your behalf, including:
1. A registered business and mailing address
Regardless of location, every business needs an address. Limited companies must give a registered address for all correspondence with HMRC and Companies House, which is then visible on public records. If you’re keen to avoid sharing your home address with the rest of the nation, opting to register your virtual address as your official business address can avoid this.
In addition, if you are trying to establish your business in a specific location, using a virtual office with a locally recognisable address (that chimes with your corporate brand image) is far more likely to get your desired customers’ attention.
2. Mail handling, collection, scanning and forwarding
As a virtual office is a real, physical address in an existing office, business centre or co-working space, there are on-site facilities that can be added to your package.
For example, have your post delivered to your virtual office address for collection or to be forwarded to wherever you are located. If you’re abroad, mail scanning is a handy alternative that’ll ensure you get your post without any delays – and maybe even faster than if you were in the country!
3. A professional receptionist
Every office has a receptionist and a virtual one is no different. All our virtual office locations offer telephone answering services, which is effectively your own bespoke receptionist who’ll handle any customer calls promptly, professionally and tailored exactly to your business. The bonus is, you don’t have to incur the costs of hiring a full-time receptionist. Find out more about our phone answering service here.
4. A local telephone number
A local address isn’t the only way to give your business legitimacy in a particular region or market. A telephone number with a local area code will also give your business credibility and help establish a strong local presence.
5. Meeting rooms for hire
There may be times that you still need a physical space for client meetings, presentations or workshops, or to get the remote team together for an annual meet-up. In such circumstances, your virtual office can provide you with access to conference rooms or private offices – and you simply pay for the time you use.
What are the benefits of a virtual office?
The benefits of a virtual office are extensive and can be divided into three main areas: cost, business opportunities and credibility.
Below are all the reasons why a virtual office may be the way forward for your business.
1. It keeps your home address private
It’s not uncommon for small business owners to work from their own homes. Using your home address is economical, however, it compromises your security because all of your details become available to the public via Companies House. By registering your business with a prestigious virtual office across various locations in the UK you can prevent clients and/or customers from showing up unannounced at your home.
2. It’s a cost-effective solution
If you’re a start-up or a small business, keeping overhead costs low means you have more resources to invest in growth and development. Renting a traditional office involves more than just monthly rent costs. You have other costs to keep up with, such as utilities, office supplies, transport costs, and legal fees to name a few. Find out more about the costs associated with a virtual office.
3. It enhances your professionalism
If you were to visit an accountant for your business needs and one of them operated from a home address, whilst the other had an official office address, which would you visit?
Most likely – the latter. An official office address can drastically exude professionalism and legitimacy of your business. Not to mention many virtual office spaces offer meeting rooms when you need to meet a client face-to-face.
4. The virtual office is manned like a traditional office
Our virtual offices operate during normal working office hours with staff on hand. This means you’ll never miss any mail, calls or anything else that could go to your chosen virtual office. You can be rest assured that you can go out on client visits or vacations knowing nothing is being missed.
5. You’re not tied to one location for long periods of time
If you need to move to new regions you might feel daunted at the thought of changing your address. Fortunately, with a virtual office, you can rent multiple locations across the country to test out different markets.
6. Expanding your business is much easier
You won’t be limited to hiring staff within commutable distance, which means if you like the look of a potential candidate’s experience on LinkedIn but they live hours away – they can still be employed to work on a remote basis.
Traditional offices also limit you in terms of space which can be an issue for future growth. However, if you want to accommodate new staff, you’re not limited by this factor whatsoever, meaning you can hire as many staff as your business can allow.
7. You’ll be able to pursue business opportunities with very little risk
Using a virtual office allows you to expand your business into new locations and explore new opportunities without the same level of monetary risk. For instance, you can expand into new markets to test the waters before you commit to investing large resources. Or, you can hire virtual staff on a pay-as-you-go basis.
8. No commitment needed
Traditional offices typically require a long lease which can be hard for a start-up to stick to. At Virtual HQ you can rent a virtual office on a month-to-month basis. This provides you with flexibility if you ever need to relocate to a different virtual office location to meet business needs.
Who is a virtual office suitable for?
Virtual offices are used primarily by freelancers and small businesses. Large corporations might still use a virtual office for administrative support, location testing, and many other things depending on the needs of a business. Whether you’re a new business looking to reduce overhead costs or establish your presence, a virtual office is a cost-effective way to get ahead of the game.
Below are the kinds of businesses and situations that would warrant using a virtual office:
Home businesses and startups
Small businesses and freelancers still need to maintain a professional image, even if they’re working from the comfort of their own homes. Our Virtual Office locations across the UK allow you to place your business in a prestigious building and/or area, so when a customer decides to Google your business’s location, they’ll be greeted with a legitimate business property in a prime location.
Businesses and freelance support
Perhaps you’re low on space or don’t want to invite a client into your own home for a meeting. A virtual office is perfect for these situations as many are equipped with serviced meeting rooms that can be booked at your convenience.
A virtual office can also make for a perfect, temporary base of operations if your own office or co-working space is undergoing change or renovation as well as to assist you in handling various administrative tasks.
Businesses testing out the market
If your business is looking to expand into different regions or relocate to a new area, renting a virtual office is a fantastic choice due to the low investment and no obligation to commit to a long-term lease.
Businesses that need administrative tasks taken care of
Whether you are looking for a telephone answering service, mail forwarding or printing/faxing, a virtual receptionist can assist you with these administration tasks so that you can focus on what really matters – your business!
A virtual office is a practical and forward-thinking alternative to a traditional office. By making use of services offered at that location, such as call answering services through a dedicated telephone number, it becomes a unique and cost-effective way to experience many of the benefits of a traditional office but without the associated costs – reserve your virtual office space today.
Do you have other unanswered questions surrounding virtual offices and business addresses? Visit our virtual office address FAQs page for clarity and access to our other guides.