With today’s wide array of available technology, it’s possible to have an office anywhere in the world, even in multiple locations if necessary without the expenses and commitments that opening a traditional, staffed, brick-and-mortar office entails.
Some find virtual offices perfect for their business’ main office, while others use virtual offices for satellite or remote business locations.
Because of the ease in opening a virtual office, your business can have offices that are local to the area that you are marketing to, giving customers a heightened sense of security when doing business with you.
Considerations When Opening Virtual Offices
Like any part of running a good business, opening a virtual office does take some planning. Here are some things you should think about and consider when strategizing before opening a virtual office.
“Virtual office” has become a term that’s used to describe many kinds of offices because virtual offices can offer many different amenities.
The first question you should ask is whether you need an actual, physical office? And if so, do any people (employees) actually need to do business or work there?
Many companies offer virtual offices where there is no physical office. They may offer a convenient, often upscale address, a receptionist, mailboxes, virtual phone numbers, and other services all designed to appear as if it’s a real office to the public. However, in reality, there’s nowhere for you to actually go and conduct any kind of business.
Some companies do provide physical space, including a small office to use when needed (which may be shared with other tenants, and which may need to be reserved in advance). Some corporate virtual office rental companies will even allow shared use of a conference room, which you’ll need to book in advance if you want to use it. This can create a professional appearance if you anticipate needing to meet with clients, customers, or business partners.
You don’t have to go with a virtual office company, either. Some businesses choose to rent out an empty office in a standard office building on their own, then set up virtual phone numbers, and open it up when they need it. You will have more control over your office this way, but getting space in a nicer, more expensive area can get costly.
Virtual Phone Numbers
One aspect to take into account: will space you use allow you to set up your own virtual phone numbers? Some spaces have a receptionist, which is shared by multiple tenants in the building. For smaller businesses, this can save money, but for businesses anticipating many calls per day, a sole shared receptionist will be insufficient.
If you anticipate many calls, especially ones from different parts of the country or the globe, you’ll want to set up your own virtual phone numbers to ring to any phone line provided to you in your virtual office.
Of course, you don’t need to have calls routed to your virtual office. You can have them routed anywhere you want. For example, your main office may be in Miami and your virtual office in North Carolina. When people call using your virtual phone numbers from Belgium, you can just have the call routed to Miami, bypassing your unstaffed virtual office altogether.
One benefit that virtual numbers have is that they come with additional features which could save you some money. For example, many have fax to email capabilities, which could save you some money on fax machines and supplies. Many have voicemail to text, allowing you to save some money on receptionists.
Virtual phone numbers are affordable, which allows you to get multiple phone numbers. You can have a high volume phone number (for example, one for incoming sales calls) come into your home office or home phone, and a lower volume number (for example, technical support) get routed into the virtual office.
Modern Features and Compatibility
A virtual office should be able to accommodate today’s technology. This capability can depend on the country where you get a virtual office. The ability to set up complex phone systems, accommodate multiple calls from incoming virtual phone numbers, being able to install computer servers, and to handle high-speed wifi access, will be important (hi speed wifi will be vital if you want to do video conferencing, or real-time presentations or collaborations with colleagues in different offices).
Remember that even if you consider your virtual office as a “shell” office today, doesn’t mean you won’t need it to become a fully-functioning staffed office tomorrow. It’s best to select a space where expandability is possible should you opt to grow your business at the virtual office location in the future.
That includes finding a telecom company that can give you the ability to expand your business around the globe when you need to by providing virtual phone numbers and services that can stay with you no matter where you go and no matter how fast you grow.
Jason Weaver is a business law attorney and teacher. He also writes on subjects such as business law, technology, and solving problems that businesses experience on a day-to-day basis.