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What You Need to Know About Virtual Offices and the Law

Did you know that you may need to consider Texas law (or Florida, Alabama or law in some other state) before you launch your virtual office? Indeed, there are laws that you need to consider when employees are going to telecommute from home.

The laws may be different in Miami than they are in Boston, New York City than Seattle. But there are may be zoning issues you need to be aware of before you give the green light to employees to work from a virtual office space on the home front. Although doing light office work from a home office is generally acceptable, manufacturing and shipping widgets from a virtual office might not be.

Here are a few questions you may need to determine:

  • Is your home zoned for business use?

  • What type of business can you legally operate from your home?

  • Do you need special permits or licensing?

  • Are there any parking restrictions to consider?

  • What tax issues need to be considered?


Here’s a practical example: An accountant may do well with a virtual office, but a hair dresser could run into problems with so many people coming and going all day. Again, how this impacts your virtual office set up may be different in Houston than it is in Cleveland. What might be acceptable in one city might be against the law in another.

Virtual offices and tax issues
On the tax front, it would seem that you could write off your virtual office space. Well, you may be able to write off the service. But whether or not you can write off part of your home as an office rental depends on various factors.

We’ll talk more about virtual offices and taxes in another post. But be sure to consult with your accountant, attorney or city officials if you aren’t sure how working from home via a virtual office might impact your business.
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New York Virtual Offices Still Better Deal than Manhattan Real Estate

What does it mean when Manhattan apartment sales double in the first quarter? It means good news for the economy.

With prices on New York apartments falling an average of 29 percent from market highs—prices have declined by a whopping $868,000—sales are picking up. The average price of a luxury apartment in Manhattan is $4.58 million.

Of course, that’s far too high for your average entrepreneur who wants to work from home and still needs a prestigious business address to compete in a cut-throat New York business market.

Enter the virtual office. Virtual offices give entrepreneurs and enterprises the best of both worlds: a desirable business address and an affordable price. It might surprise you to learn that you can rent a virtual office in New York City’s Rockefeller Plaza for just $175 a month. That compares favorable to buying an apartment from which to work or renting traditional office space in Manhattan.

What’s better, a virtual office gives you more than a prime business address in New York. You also get mail and package receipt, a business support center with copy machines, faxes and other business equipment, a lobby greeter, a place where clients can pick up and drop off packages or letters, mail forwarding and shipping services, a lobby listing, and access to a conference room (for an hourly fee).

Over the past 16 months, Bob Mascaro, president of Infill Companies, transitioned to Davinci's virtual services because the majority of his business is done out of state and requires considerable travel.

“My phones are answered and passed onto my cell phone or wherever I am located on a daily basis. My mail service maintains the same address, and is always ready for pick-up on my way home from the airport,” Mascaro says.

“Using my PDA or my laptop, I am always able to access my office files, which are maintained on a Davinci server. My files are secure and backed-up on a daily basis, ensuring constant security of my records. Davinci has been able to accommodate my needs for close to eight years. I intend on maintaining this relationship regardless of my future needs.”
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Construction Slows, Virtual Offices Grow

Several interesting economic indicators were released this week that have ramifications for U.S. employers: jobless claims decline, manufacturing surges and construction starts slow. What does all this mean for the virtual office? Good news.

The number of U.S. workers filing new unemployment claims declined by 6,000 last week. That means the economy is bleeding fewer jobs and may signal the beginnings of a recovery. But that’s not the only positive sign.

The Institute for Supply Management’s index of national factory activity rose to 59.6. That’s the highest since July 2004. Any number over 50 indicates manufacturing expansion. It’s too soon to tell how this is impacting cities like Detroit, Cleveland and Houston, but it bodes well for the big picture.

While all of this news could drive greater use of virtual offices, it’s the next economic indicator released this week that could have the greatest impact. U.S. construction spending declined for the fourth consecutive month in February, according to the Commerce Department. Construction is at its slowest rate in nearly eight years.

What does this mean? Fewer homes are being built in Miami, fewer retail outlets are underway in Chicago—and fewer office buildings are being constructed in Los Angeles. With virtual offices, it doesn’t make any difference if construction slows. Virtual offices don’t rely on bricks-and-mortar to the same extent that traditional office space does.

Virtual offices do offer conference rooms, meeting rooms, day offices and other on-site business amenities, but since most people who use virtual offices work from home or from the road most of the time, the virtual office industry can continue expanding even when the rest of the economy isn’t.

Virtual offices are an affordable alternative to physical office space. Laid off executives can rely on virtual offices to boot-strap a new business venture. Manufacturing companies looking to expand a sales force into a new territory can tap into virtual offices to present a professional business image. Virtual offices offer everything entrepreneurs and companies need to continue growing as the economy begins its recovery.
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What Your Mother Never Told You About Time Management

Time management. It’s an issue that directly impacts productivity. So before you fly to your next meeting in Chicago, consider how virtual office space can help you save the trip—and get home in time for dinner.

Sure, you can make good use of travel time to catch up on reports, plan new projects or write business letters. But no matter how efficient you make your flight to Chicago (or Tampa or Raleigh, or wherever your business meeting happens to be), you are still wasting time passing through airport security, waiting for luggage and riding in cabs.

Virtual office space can make you more productive, more efficient—and save you money by making it easy for you to tap into technologies like computer mirroring, interactive presentations, and teleconferencing. Instead of standing in front of a projector in Chicago, you can sit in front of your computer screen—and share it with others—using technologies like Cisco’s WebEx.

In fact, these virtual office technologies aren’t just appropriate for meetings across the country. They are just as helpful for meetings with people in the same city, the same building or even the same general office space.

With everyone in front of their computers, handling tasks and making notes during the meeting, the whole team can be productive, whether they are on-site or working from a virtual office on the home front. The bottom line: virtual offices can help you with time management and can have a direct impact on your company’s bottom line.
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Can Virtual Office Help Stop Spread of H1N1?