In case you are considering switching to a virtual office, I can bet that you have several questions concerning the way they work. Perhaps you have researched on Google or you have asked some of your friends to share their experiences with virtual offices.
This totally makes sense. No one can instantly decide whether a virtual office or another type of office is the most suitable for a business. Making smart business decisions means analysing the options available with their pros and cons, investigating in detail the good alternatives, and evaluating the business plan. Taking time before deciding is normal unless you are the kind of person who overthinks decisions (for example, if you take more than 3 seconds to choose between red and white wine it means that you’re overthinking. No, I’m just joking. You should be worried only if you constantly take half a day to choose between them).
However, I have good news and bad news. The bad news (I used to start with good news in the past but Psychology Today says that 78% of people want to hear the bad news first) is that asking Google and your friends won’t help. Google will just show you people’s opinions (just like your friends’ opinions) and most of the time they are subjective. Some people have had good experiences with virtual offices and others had bad experiences with them. But their experiences are unique. Their business models are not your business model. This is the main reason why you need completely transparent, honest, and objective answers to your questions concerning virtual offices. Once you get them, you can make your decision.
The good news is that you may get them after reading this article. The purpose of this blog post is not to convince you that a virtual office is the best fit for your business, but to give you straightforward answers to your questions so that you decide for yourself whether a virtual office can help your business growth or not.
And by the way, I am aware that you found this article while searching on Google. I know I just told you that searching on Google won’t help because it will mostly reveal to you subjective opinions, but I guarantee you that my article is an exception to the rule.
Table of contents:
- What is a virtual office?
- What are the benefits of a virtual office?
- What features are included in a virtual office?
- Who needs a virtual office?
- Where do I go to get a virtual office?
- How does a virtual office work?
- How much does a virtual office cost?
- Are virtual offices legal to use?
1. What is a virtual office?
A virtual office is a flexible and affordable office that a company can rent monthly as an alternative to a physical office. Virtual offices provide a company with a business address and many other significant benefits but without the company working physically from that office space.
For example, they can offer a permanent landline, mail forwarding service, secure business mailbox, virtual receptionist, etc. The only difference is that the services included in a virtual office are based on modern technology and come in “virtual form”, meaning that a company that uses them will have the appearance of a professional business while operating remotely (not on the premises).
Therefore, businesses that use a virtual office allow managers and employees to work from anywhere in the world (a home office, a cafe, or any other place) while customers, clients, and suppliers believe that the company is located at a specific address (where are actually located the premises of the virtual office provider).
2. What are the benefits of a virtual office?
Virtual offices offer a wide range of benefits as they can help a business win more clients by improving the company’s reputation, save time and money, and increase productivity. In addition, they offer support for scaling, as a business can easily shrink or expand according to the workflow.
For example, they make a business appear more legitimate because the services that they provide make clients and customers believe that the company operates from a specific location. Also, virtual offices save a company’s money because business owners do not have to pay high overhead costs, such as bond, rent, equipment, IT services, or high employee costs. They save a company’s time as well because managers and employees do not have to travel or commute to an office to work. Remote work increases productivity as it allows them to live a healthier work-life balance and enjoy a stress-free work environment.
And last but not least, they offer unlimited access to top talent, meaning that managers can recruit and hire the finest talents in the world to work remotely for their businesses.
3. What features are included in a virtual office?
As a general rule, almost all virtual offices provide a virtual address, post handling and mail forwarding service, and meeting rooms. But good virtual office providers offer other services, such as a permanent landline phone number, a virtual receptionist, or a secure business mailbox.
Therefore, reputable virtual office providers, such as B2B HQ, offer a wide range of services. For example, B2B HQ provides a secure business mailbox with a PIN code, meeting rooms that can be accessed 24/7 in a keyless entry office building (typically, meeting rooms offered by virtual office providers can be accessed from Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 5 pm), a permanent landline phone number, and a virtual receptionist that can provide coverage 24/7 if necessary. In addition, the meeting rooms (most of the time, good virtual office providers offer both meeting rooms and boardrooms, for large business meetings) can be easily booked through online portals. Also, good virtual office providers should offer safe and hygienic virtual offices that are cleaned and disinfected regularly.
4. Who needs a virtual office?
Freelancers, start-ups, and small companies benefit most from a virtual office, but also larger companies or big corporations can use them as a permanent business model or a secondary office in a new location when they want to expand in a new region or test a new market or segment.
Therefore, virtual offices are suitable for a wide range of businesses even if it is a common opinion that they fit only start-ups and small companies. Small businesses may indeed need a virtual office more than large businesses (primarily due to the cost-saving benefits) but more established companies can use them as well. For example, mid-size companies, large companies, and big corporations can get a virtual office (as the main office or a branch office) provided that they can implement remote work totally or partially.
5. Where do I go to get a virtual office?
A company can find a virtual office by simply contacting a virtual office provider and choosing a virtual office package that fits the company’s needs best, as long as the virtual office provider can offer services in the location where a company wants the business address to be.
Therefore, when you rent a virtual office, you have to choose a virtual office provider that offers services in the location where you want your virtual address to be. For example, if you want your business to be “located” in Melbourne you must contact a virtual office provider that is located in Melbourne as well or can offer services in Melbourne. Or, if you want to expand your business in Adelaide, you must contact a virtual office provider located in Adelaide or that offers services in Adelaide as well.
6. How does a virtual office work?
Virtual offices work by providing a near-instant presence in a specific location. The address provided by the virtual office can be used to register a business for the first time. Also, registered companies can change their current business address with the address provided by a virtual office.
Once a business gets a virtual office, the company can easily access other services as they scale. For example, you can get a basic virtual office that includes just a few services and, as your company grows, add more services (such as access to meeting rooms, virtual receptionist, mail shredding, etc), and personalise your virtual office package. Once you get your virtual office, no client or customer will know that you do not actually operate from a physical office. Also, they work just like any other type of office: you must pay a monthly fee once you rent them. The only difference is that they are a lot more affordable than other offices.
7. How much does a virtual office cost?
In Australia, an ordinary virtual office can cost around $50-$70 per month, while a premium virtual office can cost around $70-$90 per month. Also, a virtual branch office can cost between $80-$100 per month, according to the features and the quality of the services included.
Therefore, virtual offices are low-cost offices, even if some of them provide very high-quality services. As a general rule, the price for a basic virtual office can start from 2$ a day. However, you can get only a virtual address including some basic features (e.g. email notification when your mail has arrived, rentable meeting rooms, etc.) with only $1 a day.
Some virtual office providers require additional fees for some services. For example, the mail forwarding service may be included in the price or they may require an additional fee for each mail forwarded to a specific address. Also, some virtual office providers require a one-time setup fee while some of them offer free setup.
8. Are virtual offices legal to use?
Yes, Australian law allows businesses to use a virtual office. The virtual address provided by the virtual office is legal for a business to use and can be utilised as a business address, a registered office, or as both business address and registered office.
The registered address (or the registered office) is the place where a company receives statutory mail and where the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) can contact a business. The business address is the address where a company receives correspondence and communications and it can be different from the registered address (for example, you can have one registered address and multiple business addresses in various locations).
Therefore, a virtual office is legal to use as long as you can receive correspondence at a specific address. Also, a virtual office does NOT provide a P.O. box address because a P.O. box address is not accepted by ASIC as a registered office or principal place of business.
Hopefully, you got clear answers to all of your questions concerning virtual offices. This post will be constantly updated and added to as more questions come in regarding virtual offices. Now, you are free to make a cost-benefit analysis, take some time to think and decide whether a virtual office it’s worth it or not.
However, if you have any other question that was not included in the list above please feel free to contact us and we would be more than glad to answer your additional questions in the same way as we answered the questions listed in this blog post: with transparency and honesty.
Also, if your cost-benefit analysis leads you to the conclusion that your business can benefit from a virtual office, we would appreciate it if you could include a virtual office provided by B2B HQ on your shortlist. It would be our pleasure for us to help you boost your business’s growth.