Virtual office is an all encompassing label, essentially describing services which provide businesses with a mixture of off-site live communication solutions and/or address and postal services. It therefore allows businesses to carry out day-to-day requirements without any physical presence.
As one would expect, virtual office services became viable when technology came of age – i.e. when computers and the internet became fast enough to carry out the tasks with ease. The first instance of a virtual office in the USA was founded by Ralph Gregory in 1994. Since then virtual offices have not only become more reliable and cheaper, but also wider in scope.
Benefits of a virtual office?
We all know that to get ahead in business you can’t underestimate the importance of image and impression. Often, to be taken seriously you have to be able to establish professionalism, credibility and standing in your industry. This isn’t easy if you work from home, or from a less than high-end office setting. This is partly why virtual offices are so popular with start-ups and people that work from home– it allows them to have a premium city centre presence at a minute fraction of the actual cost.
Another benefit of the virtual office is that it can allow you to have an international presence, again without the extra cost of real-estate/staff and hassle required to do so. The virtual office is therefore often the first port of call for anyone wanting to break into new markets.
To give you a brief example, I have worked with several tech start-ups in the past, and one thing which I learned is that if you want to make big money in that industry you really should penetrate the US market. This can be difficult for European companies, partly because the American tech industry often regards them as quaint and can refuse to take them seriously. After all, as President Obama recently said in his 2011 State of the Union Address – America is the nation “of Google and Facebook”. Can’t argue with that right?
So back to the point, in order to combat this uphill struggle it is very common for European teach start-ups to get a virtual address somewhere in America, usually Silicon Valley, because it is felt that it helps them look more substantial and credible.
Such arguments are especially poignant during tough economic times. Businesses are looking for ways to reduce overheads and minimise long-term commitments. That’s exactly what the virtual office can do. What’s more, it allows businesses to be flexible, matching expenses with revenue fluctuations. This is because the costs are usually variable, based on a pay-as-you-go pricing model. So the virtual office not only helps establish vital business assets like credibility, it can also save money in so doing.
Our services include:
Our services include:
- Premium business address in the heart of London.
- Mail collection and forwarding.
- Call answering in your company’s name as well as call forwarding.
- Voice mail accessible 24/7.
- Message forwarding by SMS or email.
- 2 hours of interview rooms (up to 5 people) per month
- 8% off the price of eOffice conference and meeting rooms
8×8 the provider of innovative business communications and hosting services has announced last week that it will be releasing a new Android phone app that enables 8×8 Virtual Office subscribers to use their Android-powered smartphone as an extension of their business phone service. This has the potential to afford virtual office users even greater flexibility.
Available to 8×8 Virtual Office Unlimited Extension and Virtual Office Pro subscribers, the new 8×8 Virtual Office Mobile Android app and service offers capabilities and features including:
- Unlimited inbound and outbound domestic calling over WiFi or 3G networks
- Elimination of international roaming minutes through the use WiFi hotspots for international calls
- Built-in multitasking support and background operation
- Extension dialing, call transfers and 3-way calling
- Direct dial from call logs, contacts and corporate directory
- Access to Virtual Office voicemail, auto attendant and conference bridge services
- Outbound caller ID displays Virtual Office business phone number rather than user’s personal mobile phone number
With the 8×8 Virtual Office Mobile Android app and previously released iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad apps, business users can maintain consistently reliable and professional communications with customers, co-workers and colleagues from virtually anywhere, whether in the office using an IP desk phone or on the road with a smartphone.
RingCentral last week revealed data from a survey indicating the decline of traditional physical offices and growing interest in and use of virtual offices, executive suites, and other flexible officing solutions. The company conducted the survey from October 11 to November 16 of this year in order to understand the changing nature of how and where we work. Small to medium business (SMB) owners across the United States were included in the survey.
The company highlighted key findings from their survey:
- Nearly half (45%) of employees spend three quarters (75%) of their time conducting business away from the office.
- Only 15% of SMBs reported having all employees work from a single physical location.
- When working from outside the office, 80% of the businesses normally want to give the impression that their employees are in the office when receiving or making business phone calls outside of the office.
- The above trends, according to the survey, will continue to rise. For the year 2010, nearly two-thirds (67%) of SMBs are planning to hire more employees and over half of them (57%) are planning to have these new employees work remotely and/or with mobile capabilities.
The survey revealed that only 15% of businesses reported having all employees work from a single physical location. While virtual and mobile work situations were once the sole domain of field staff and freelancers, internet and mobile phones have made virtual offices and executive suitesmore mainstream solutions. Because companies are now able to access business systems from remote locations, employ virtual office models has become a more viable and more effective option.
RingCentral also credits the suffering economy for playing a significant role in the new age of the office. In an effort to keep expenses down and customer savings up, businesses of all sizes now actively pursue innovative solutions as alternatives to the high costs associated with traditional office space. With more flexible officing solutions, companies are now able to expand their talent pool throughout the world, whereas they were previously limited to their own geographical area.
The survey shows that 80% of the businesses normally want to give the impression that their employees are in the office when receiving or making business phone calls outside of the office. Professional communications are important to business owners and virtual office set-ups, which can include professional live answering, make this possible.
In a recent press release, RingCentral CEO Vlad Shmunis said, “This survey demonstrates that even with the trend toward a flexible, distributed office model, today’s business is not willing to compromise on the professionalism associated with a traditional office model.”
Setting up a business can be costly, and the overheads eat into your profits fast. A great alternative is the eOffice virtual office – one of the most cost-effective and professional solutions for small businesses who want to do things properly. You get a whole package of services, including a premium city centre business address, mail forwarding to any address in the world, telephone answering in your company name, plus SMS or email message forwarding. With pay-as-you-go access to our state-of-the-art video conferencing, meeting and hotdesking facilities – you can be as impressive as a big business, without the hefty fixed costs.
To find out more about our flexible Officing and Virtual Office solutions, or enquire about Telephone Answering, Business Addresses and Secretarial Assistance (ePA)individually, visit eOffice.net. We can also help you set up a UK Limited Company.