Gone are the days where every business owner has to wake up, go to a physical office space and stress over commuting or parking space. Now that technology has advanced, businesses are starting to embrace remote working through a virtual office.
Setting up a virtual office is a great solution for entrepreneurs, small businesses or even established enterprises looking to expand their reach or optimize operations. However, before you opt for virtual office services it’s essential to consider several factors as your entire workstyle will be different.
But worry not, we’ve got you covered to ensure your journey of virtual offices goes smoothly. Let’s delve into some basics before we cover how to setup a virtual office.
What is a virtual office
A virtual office gives businesses all the benefits of a traditional office without the physical office itself. This includes a business address, landline number, virtual assistant support, receptionist and mail forwarding.
Because of its unique offerings, the virtual office is commonly used by businesses which have teams that operate remotely. But that’s not to say an established or large corporation wouldn’t use a virtual office.
Since a virtual office space carries minimal risk and low costs, many businesses use it for expanding their operations into another city or country. On top of that, a virtual office is also a great solution for a business looking to downsize their operations without losing functionality and credibility.
Advantages of a virtual office
Let’s get you up to speed on the advantages of a virtual office before you decide to setup one for your business.
Leasing a standard office space is a big commitment and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Renting an A-grade office space is a large cost and the lease terms are quite long.
Whereas a virtual office service can be rented from $168 per month in the US. Virtual office providers will normally have monthly, half yearly and yearly leases, which give businesses plenty of flexibility and ample risk management.
Think about the capital required to rent an office, hire a receptionist, mail forwarding assistance, access to conference rooms, along with purchasing and installing IT infrastructure.
You would exceed hundreds of thousands of dollars. But with a virtual office, the upfront cost for the services received is a substantial bargain and a great option if you’re looking to save money.
Assessing different markets
Every business considers expanding at some stage, but is held back at the thought of costs, risks and the difficulty of the process.
Virtual offices are quick and easy to setup, which is why they’re great for exploring different markets and assessing new opportunities. Whether you’re a small business in New York looking to expand into London, or a large corporation in Australia wanting to have a presence in Singapore – it’s all possible with a virtual office.
Hybrid and remote work is a commonality.
Businesses are beginning to accommodate for flexible work conditions because they don’t want to miss out on a large pool of employees that only prefer remote or hybrid conditions.
A virtual office is an adroit method for giving your employees remote or hybrid work conditions, without placing your business at risk. Working from home without a virtual office can present privacy risks, especially when your business is advertised with a home address and persona phone number.
Keep it professional and tidy.
Virtual offices are inherently environmentally friendly because of the non-physical requirements. You also don’t need to commute anywhere, which is an added benefit for yourself and the environment.
Steps for setting up a virtual office
Before you sign up to a virtual office provider, make sure to have a look at these steps and consider the variables to ensure you make the best decision for your business.
Assessing your business needs
The first step in how to setup your virtual office is a careful assessment.
The nature of your business, team size and daily activities are all factors you need to consider before dotting the lines. Evaluating your business model will determine all the necessary tools and resources needed to make a complete transition into a virtual business.
Are you looking to increase team flexibility or only reduce overhead costs? Are you seeking credibility for your business or needing to reach a global audience?
If you’re a clothing retailer, it wouldn’t make sense to purchase a virtual office because your customers need a physical location to visit. But if the store only operates online, then you could opt for a virtual office.
Take the time to confidently answer all of these question before you learn how to setup a virtual office.
Choosing a provider
Just like any other product, there’s many service providers but not all are the same.
Comprehensive research is a must when browsing providers, because ultimately this will heavily affect your business. Compare the features and services to determine what your business needs, but pay attention to factors such as reliability, customer support and security measures.
Ideally, your virtual office provider should offer:
Signing up for a virtual office
Once you’ve selected a provider and are ready for the virtual office setup, it’s time to be armed with a set of essential questions before you sign the contract. Many businesses make the mistake of rushing into the process without paying attention to the terms and conditions.
Have a clear understanding about the agreement and inquire about cancellation policies and any additional fees or charges
Consider the following questions before opting for a provider:
Do they have IT support? And are they onsite?
Do they have disaster transfer protocols in place?
Can you check the transparency code of the provider?
Can incoming callers dial ‘1’ for voicemail to mobile?
Can you be given a phone number to try the service before you buy it?
It’s also good practice to find out about additional services during this phase. The provider may have services such as a virtual assistant which can enhance your virtual office experience.
Configuring the virtual office
Now come the nitty gritty details of setting up the technology and configuring your virtual office to suit your business.
Virtual office address and phone number: select a virtual office address which will reflect an image of your business that you want to portray.
Keep in mind, that your physical address is an important aspect in showing credibility and building trust with prospective clients. For example, a lawyer would prefer have an address such as 1717 Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House, as it’s more likely to give clients confidence. Afterwards, select a virtual phone number which establishes a dedicated business line.
Configuring your calls and voicemail: speak with the staff to set up call forwarding options to direct your incoming calls to the right team members or departments in your business. Ask for assistance when configuring a professional voicemail greeting and ensure the prompts are clear for your inquirers.
Discuss mail handling options: you’ll want to know the procedure of mail handling to ensure your property is in good hands. If you operate from home, tell the virtual office provider to redirect the mail from the virtual office address to your home.
Implement team communication tools
Your business is completely virtual, which means face-to-face interactions are next to none and communication tools become paramount.
instant messaging apps, team collaboration tools with real-time accessibility, file sharing and task assignment tools are some of the essentials needed to run a successful virtual office.
Reliable internet and security protocols
Remote team members rely on their own internet connection.
Solopreneurs who invest in a robust internet service provider can confidently work with minimal downtime, but what about those with a team?
If your virtual office provider gives access to coworking spaces, consider making your team members utilize their onsite facilities for safe and reliable technology.
Does my business need a virtual office?
Signing up for any lease isn’t a decision which should be taken lightly, but if you’re looking to select a virtual office then make sure to have a comprehensive understanding of what a virtual office is.
Ultimately, the provider you select when choosing a virtual office solution will dictate how helpful it is for your business.