PremisesWhat Is a Virtual Office and Why Is It Good for a...

What Is a Virtual Office and Why Is It Good for a Startup?

Virtual offices help a startup or small business minimise overheads and maximise productivity. A virtual office means you and your team can work from home whilst staying in touch by email, messaging, video calls and on shared software systems. In addition, your post, telephone, and deliveries can all be dealt with by a company that manages this for you.

The boost of digital technology has affected every industry. Within the last few years, businesses and offices have started running most of their official tasks through digital platforms. Virtual offices are one such extension of the use of digital technology to operate your business remotely.

Indeed, the rents for a ‘real’ office are often an unaffordable cost for a startup or small business along with the administrative and managerial staff to run everything smoothly. Virtual offices offer all these services at affordable rates.

What Is a Virtual Office?

A virtual office allows businesses to have a ‘real world’ presence while avoiding the costs of a traditional office space and full-time employees. You and your employees can work from the comfort of your home and use this virtual office to operate customer services, a mailing address, and to hold meetings when needed. You can use virtual spaces at different locations and manage them remotely.

How a Virtual Office Functions

Virtual offices function as single operating units to serve consumers and employees. The virtual office increases the productivity of the employees. Typically, employees perform administrative tasks and have to travel a distance to come to the office. However, with a virtual office, the employees can work from the most convenient and feasible location. And businesses can hire people without considering their location.

Additionally, a virtual office serves as a medium between the consumer and the business. Small businesses and entrepreneurs can use this space to receive documents and products. Also, these offices offer mail processing services to receive and forward messages.

You’ll pay for a premium address and location but without paying rent and instead you pay a modest monthly fee or membership fee – and this membership fee is lower than you may pay by renting the office space full-time and on commercial leases. You can use this virtual office as long as you have this membership.

Remote Features of a Virtual Office

  • Virtual receptionist
  • Official business contact number
  • Digital mailing address
  • Official Phone system

Physical Elements of a Virtual Office

  • Business address
  • Mail receiving, processing, and forwarding services
  • Onsite receptionist
  • Office amenities
  • Meeting rooms

Services a Startup Business Can Avail Via a Virtual Office

Availability of Meeting Spaces

Most virtual offices offer physical space to run business and staff meetings. These meeting spaces are of flexible range, allowing you to choose any based on your requirements.

You can choose a large conference room, a small space, a private room, or a floating desk. Some virtual offices offer these meeting spaces hourly rent, while others may offer them in a monthly or weekly membership. It is preferable to research different virtual office options before finalising the best one per your business needs.

Ensuring that the committed meeting spaces will fulfil your requirements is essential. Overall, the virtual office allows you to run all sorts of meetings in these workspaces with ease and professional commitment.

Onsite Receptionist

Onsite receptionists assist you in arranging the meetings and setting up the meeting rooms at the virtual office spaces. The receptionists will greet the official guests, including clients, investors, or vendors. Also, the receptionists help the guests get acquainted with the meeting rooms. Some onsite receptionists may also serve as administrative assistants.

Overall, the onsite receptionists create and manage the professional aura of your business at the virtual office and help run the meetings and the relevant administrative tasks smoothly.

Mailing Services

You can use the virtual office for mail processing, making it possible to receive and send official documents. Similarly, the virtual offices can also package and ship the products to the customers.

Also, some virtual offices can receive the product packages, and they will sign on the receiving receipt per your permission. The virtual office staff will inform you to pick up the items or will send them to your home. You can also ask the virtual office to drop off the received items at any location. The mail processing services offered save time and help keep the official operation smooth and hiccup-free.

Many virtual offices also feature mail scanning and envelope-opening services. With this feature, the virtual office will email you the scanned copy of the official document it has received; thus, you won’t need to visit the office in person.

Virtual offices offer mail processing and forwarding services for a variable time. Typically, the virtual office processes the mail daily, weekly or monthly, based on the employer’s direction and business’s needs.

Phone Answering Services

Effective communication is one of the essential features of running any business smoothly. A professional, knowledgeable and punctual communication route is key to having a successful relationship with your investors, partners, employees, and customers.

Customer service holds significant value. And catering to every suggestion or complaint your consumer makes is essential. Therefore, answering every call or email to your business is imperative to stay connected with your loyal customer base. The virtual office live phone answering service also called a “virtual receptionist,” is highly productive and helpful.

The virtual receptionists or the customer service staff receive and offer a professional and amiable answer per the guidelines. Your business can devise an introductory script for the customer service agents before they direct the calls to the relevant department or the employee; else, take a message. Generally, the customer service staff has a list of answers to the frequently asked questions, thus satisfying most customers directly from their end.

A skilled and masterful customer service team makes your business look professional and improves its market standing. Also, knowing that a professional team is taking care of the customer queries, you and all the employees can focus solely on raising the business’s productivity.

In short, the customer service staff receives the calls, takes messages and voicemails on your business’s behalf, and processes them further per your directions.

Availability of Virtual Assistant

Some virtual office memberships also include virtual assistants. Virtual assistants play a crucial role in smoothly operating your office tasks. A virtual assistant can perform all the essential functions of an in-person receptionist.

These tasks include data entry, scheduling client meetings, appointment booking, invoice submission, and email processing. In short, the virtual assistants keep the schedule of the official tasks on the right track; while keeping the relevant department or the employees in the loop.

Different virtual office membership packages offer a varying number of virtual assistants. Also, check how many virtual assistants you will acquire in your membership. The membership package also defines the working hours of the virtual assistants and the services they offer.

Before finalising the virtual office membership package, assess whether the virtual assistant provided by the virtual office is enough to cater to your office tasks or if you will need to hire one yourself.

Video Conferencing Services

Video conferencing is an essential feature of online meetings with investors, clients, and vendors. These teleconferencing services are vital when communicating with international clients and investors.

It is necessary to maintain a professional environment when having virtual business meetings. For that, your office must have premium quality equipment, quiet surroundings, and availability of all the necessary documents at hand to run the videoconference smoothly and professionally.

Contrarily, suppose the office space has terrible lighting, disturbing noises, or even little hums in the background. In that case, your attitude to attending and running the business meeting will look unprofessional and improper. Also, an unprofessional meeting environment can tarnish your business profile, harming your growth.

Hiring prestigious and professional virtual offices with premium video conferencing services can improve your value and help boost your business growth. Different virtual office membership plans offer various video conferencing services for a specific duration. Choose the plan that suits your business plan the most.

Fax, Printing, and Photocopy Facilities

A virtual office may also offer basic office facilities, including printing, photocopying, and fax machines. The use of these services may come under the duties of the onsite receptionist.

Otherwise, the virtual office may only provide you with these machines and the physical space. The membership agreement may dictate the number of copies or prints allowed. These facilities have additional charges, which vary based on the membership plan. So, it is necessary to read the terms and conditions of the contract thoroughly before signing.

Business Phone Number

Most virtual office membership plans come with a virtual phone number for your business, and you can connect and operate these phone lines from a desktop or cell phone. The best part about this feature is that you can manage official tasks using an official business line instead of a personal number.

In addition to offering ease and convenience of contacting your clients and customers via business line, the official phone number is also cost-effective. However, ensure that the provided phone number is portable to other telecommunication providers. Maintaining the same business number is essential to keep loyal and potential customers hooked. Therefore, ensure that you get to keep this official number even after the end of the membership.

Advantages of a Virtual Office

Ease of Working Remotely

The best feature of a virtual office is that you and your team can work from anywhere. There is no need to be present at a common geographic location. This feature also offers you the opportunity to hire people from different regions. Also, everyone can work from wherever they feel comfortable, thus increasing productivity.

Economical Charges

Virtual office space is affordable compared to traditional office space. With a conventional office set-up, you need to rent ample office space to accommodate all your staff. On the other hand, virtual offices allow employees to conduct their duties remotely.

Virtual offices provide you with all the necessary services required to perform routine office tasks, reducing your business’s requirement to hire more staff members. Thus, if you have recently started a startup or are running a small business, you can cut rental costs by using a virtual office.

Enhanced Professional Standing

Virtual offices offer you a physical business address that you can use to connect with the customer. Also, you can use this business address to open a business account and get a business licence. You can pass all the requirements necessary to enhance your company’s standing for growth.

Provision of Multiple Services

Besides physical space and a business address, a virtual office offers several additional services. These services include providing onsite receptionists, virtual assistants, customer care staff, mail processing services, and availability of office amenities. All these extra features are essential to seamlessly running any business.

Disadvantages of a Virtual Office

Not Suitable for Regular Team Collaboration

If your business model requires regular interaction between team members, a virtual office may not suit you. In a virtual office, the employees work remotely, and the videoconferencing cannot duplicate the one-to-one interaction.

Requires Pre-Planning to Set Up Meetings

The workspaces at the virtual offices are not readily available. So you should plan for the upcoming office or client meeting. This disadvantage is terrible for businesses that need to hold meetings with clients regularly.

Restricted Access to Night and Weekend Shifts

The virtual office has restricted work hours for every business mentioned in the membership agreement. So, the virtual office spaces will only be available at particular times of the day. Most companies may find these features inconvenient.


Small businesses and startups can gain many benefits from virtual offices. These office spaces offer all the benefits of traditional office buildings while being affordable and flexible.

You may find many virtual office options available all across the country. And these virtual offices offer many beneficial services with reasonable virtual rent. Additionally, you can choose the best virtual office membership plan per your business’s requirements.

Written by

Mark Hodgson
Mark Hodgson
Mark Hodgson is one of our expert writers. Mark is our lead researcher and editor who writes our main guides and expert topic coverage. He’s passionate about helping entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses with practical advice delivered clearly. Mark’s worked for a number of business magazines and titles and has started two small businesses himself, so has first-hand experience in setting up, managing and growing a small business and shares his expertise with our readers.

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