by Barbara Weltman
A virtual office gives you a shared address and office services without the high cost of renting commercial office space and staffing it yourself. For as little as $175 per month, you can obtain a prestigious address and support staff in such locations as Beverly Hills or Manhattan.
Idea: Use a virtual office to create a branch location when expanding to another city or state. This will allow you to test the market in that area before you commit to permanent space.
Direct benefits of a virtual office The number one benefit of a virtual office is cost savings over traditional commercial office space. Because you do not have access to the space 24/7, you pay a reduced monthly fee for sharing the full-furnished space. The cost depends on location, as well as the services you obtain and the space you have access to. For start-ups, a virtual office can be a way to minimize costs until the business is well established.
For home-based businesses, using a virtual office provides a respected office address. You can have mail and packages conveniently delivered there, with shared staff always available to accept delivery on your behalf.
You can also have a receptionist screen and then forward your calls to your space within the virtual office when you are present (usually you do not have an assigned space but can use adequate space when you need it), or to your home office. This can help convey a professional image.
You also gain access to technology. Virtual offices typically have photocopying equipment, fax machines, and telephone banks, as well as computer hookups (equipped with WiFi). Just bring your laptop to begin work.
You also have space for special meetings and events, such as access to a conference room.
Ancillary benefits Becoming part of a virtual office can create networking opportunities with other occupants. Many offices hold onsite events where occupants meet and greet one another. For example, Global Office Centers hold quarterly networking events for its virtual clients in New York City.
Virtual office resources To find a virtual office in your area, consult your local Chamber of Commerce or the Yellow Pages. Some prominent virtual offices include:
• Davinci Virtual has over 600 locations.
• Global Office Centers has locations in Beverly Hills, New York City, and Newport Beach, CA, as well as cities worldwide.
• HQ has locations in 350 cities.
• Officescape has locations in over 300 cities.
• Stark Business Solutions has locations in Westchester, NY.