Virtual Office Space

Edited by Kathy McGraw, Maria Quinney

Whether you're a freelancer who wants to establish credibility or an ambitious entrepreneur looking to make it big, you can have an office address in almost any city in the world and a staff of office professionals to help you manage your business. Virtual office companies offer affordable office solutions that fit into nearly every budget.

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What is a Virtual Office?

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A virtual office is a suite of services that simulate an office in virtual space. Designed for start-ups and freelancers to grow their businesses, virtual office packages are modular so that you and add or remove features as you grow your business or your needs change. With a virtual office, you can still work at home while projecting a professional appearance to clients.

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The history of the virtual office industry goes back to 1973 when a company called Attorneys Office Management, Inc. started offering the "off-site tenant program," which provided attorneys with the perks of having an office without the office. The term "virtual office" wasn't used until after 1992, when London businessman Richard Nissen trademarked it. It's an industry that has grown as computer technology has improved and high-speed Internet connectivity has become widely available.

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What Services Are Provided?

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Virtual office services range from something as simple as a physical address for your business with mail-handling to a full suite of office staff that can manage your calls, field client questions, take orders, and more. Here is a list of common services:

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  • Physical address and mail -handling
  • Call management
  • Appointment setting,
  • Physical office space
  • Meeting space
  • Order taking
  • Phone answering
  • Social media staff
  • Video conference services
  • Help and question answering
  • Research
  • Office sharing

How Do I Determine What Services My Business Needs?

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You know your business better than anyone else. If you largely do your business online and most of your correspondence is handled via email, then perhaps just a physical address to increase your credibility and for better privacy regarding where you live will be more than enough to cover your needs. On the other hand, if you regularly meet with clients face-to-face or you need someone to take orders for you, then renting a physical office and having office staff to answer your calls and process your orders would be beneficial for you.

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How Much Does a Virtual Office Cost?

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Cost depends on what services are included, with the comprehensive packages costing more than the packages with fewer options. For instance, Regus, a virtual office provider, offers a package including address, phone answering, plus office space for two days per month for around $200 while the barebones package of just a physical address is $59.

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On top of the number of services included, costs vary by location as well, with virtual offices in prime locations costing more than in less prestigious spots. For instance, the same package could cost you $100 less in a less-coveted location.

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Where Can I Get a Virtual Office?

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You can find virtual office companies by doing a quick online search or by browsing through the services offered section of any classified ad listing. Here are a few of the bigger names in the virtual office industry:

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  • Research the virtual office company online
  • Find out how long the company has been in business
  • If you can, find out how long they've had office space in your location
  • Visit the office location nearest you
  • Talk to the staff
  • Compare packages and prices
  • Consider a down-market location if costs are a concern

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


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Article Info

Categories : Communications & Education

Recent edits by: Kathy McGraw

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