Guest Post from Lewis Edward
A virtual office shouldn’t be confused with a co-working space or an executive suite. The virtual office is a service that provides you primarily with an address and a communications center. It’s ideal for people who don’t want to spend for the maintenance of a regular office but who would like to project a more professional image to customers, and enjoy the basic services and facilities of a regular establishment.
What’s a Virtual Office?
A virtual office provides the following services:
- Answering services – An operator at the site to receive and answer phone calls and requests from your clients and then relays them to you.
- Office assistance – A team of workers with CTI access to provide information to your clients. Or, it may be a virtual assistant, working remotely, to give your clients technical or creative help.
- Mail handling – A receptionist to receive your mail and packages. These are then forwarded to you, or you can collect them yourself. Some virtual office providers have receptionists who sign for deliveries, witnesses and notaries on-site.
- Formal business address – A prestigious, reputable address. If the virtual office provider has addresses in many cities, this allows you to expand into other markets.
- Workspace and meeting places – Space to work, rented by the hour, day or month for occasional work away from home. Conference and meeting rooms can also be rented on short notice.
- Office amenities – Office support like fax/copier/printer facilities, broadband Internet and advanced telephone services.
How to Choose a Virtual Office That’s Right for You
There’s no such thing as an ideal virtual office. It all depends upon what you and your business need and want. Here’s what to consider when looking for a virtual office.
- Check out the site – Is the address reputable and impressive? Will the place communicate the right image of your business to your clients? Remember that, as far as they are concerned, the virtual office is your actual office.
- Examine the services and facilities – Go over the entire range of services and verify what they cover and don’t cover. Talk to the staff and see if they’re friendly, courteous and service-oriented.
- Scrutinize the costs – Make sure you understand all the terms and conditions of the contract, paying special attention to extra charges. Compare the costs of different virtual office providers.
- Talk to some existing clients – Ask for a list of the provider’s existing clients. If you happen to know some of them, find out what their experience has been.
- Ask for a sample – Try to get a short period for free in order to test the service. Send mail and messages to yourself during this period. Hold a meeting or two on the site.
How do Co-working Spaces Work?
Co-working services provide work space and office facilities to be shared by people working independently of each other. In addition, a co-working space offers an informal community, club-like atmosphere for like-minded individuals who don’t want to work at home or in isolation. You have to become a member of a co-working group.
How to choose co-working space
- Look for co-working space online – There are apps that will help you find co-working space not just in your locality but in many places around the world.
- Visit the space – You can start by going to the website of the space to see how the place looks. If you find some interesting ones, visit the space and get a feel of the community.
- Check out the types of workspace – A good co-working space will have different types of workspace available. See if they give you a good choice and provide the kind of working environment you want.
- Ask about the other members – Talk to the space owner about the other members, their work and what the community interaction is like. Find out about the flow of usage, when is the space busy, what are the peak hours, and other information to help you devise your schedule.
- Inquire about the different membership plans – A co-working space will have different plans and models to suit your working style and space needs. This can range from a one-day pass for a transient at $15 a day to a private office for $450 a month with a lot of other types in between.
Bottom Line: A virtual office and co-working space can make you a happier, more productive freelancer if you find the right facility for your business.
Lewis Edward is one of the owners of TheOfficeProviders. He is a real estate investor with many interests in other sectors. Lewis researches and contributes various written features for TheOfficeProviders in areas regarding real estate, including office space for rent and virtual offices, and general business and economy matters. Lewis is experienced in the inner workings of both the traditional and flexible workspace industries and has developed close links with various figures in real estate circles, as well other circles.
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