Everything you’ve ever needed to know about having a virtual office
The concept of a virtual office has long been popular with freelancers and small businesses. They harnessed technology in order to work from home, from coffee shops, or even on a warm sandy beach years ago. Yet they still needed a credible business address and the occasional meeting room.
During the height of the pandemic, more than 60% of the UK population was working from home. After speaking to their teams and assessing their options, some businesses have decided to go fully remote. It’s a brave move, but one that we’ve all just had a year-long trial for.
Going remote doesn’t mean they should wave goodbye to the office completely though.
What is a virtual office?
A virtual office provides organisations with a professional business address, but without a physical workspace. It will offer the administrative services of an office, but without having to pay through the nose for the lease. They are a great solution for businesses and freelancers who need a registered business address in a great location (and perhaps the occasional meeting room), but at a low-cost and on flexible terms.
For a small membership fee, remote businesses can use the virtual office as their business address, have their post and potentially even their calls forwarded. Virtual offices tend to be actual physical offices and co-working spaces (unlike a PO box) and therefore, you can also book meeting space when required.
Very early-stage companies often use a virtual office membership as the first step towards getting a physical space. If they’ve been working from home thus far, but they need to be seen as more professional, then this is a good middle ground that will support them as they continue to grow.
What are the features?
So, what is the point of an office… without the actual office? 🤷♀️ 🤷♂️
Following the pandemic, many teams are going fully remote. They have enjoyed the lack of commute, more time with loved ones, and increased productivity that comes with fewer distractions. Working from home doesn’t always strike a professional note with clients (we’ve all taken video calls in our pyjamas), and that’s where the virtual office comes in.
A virtual office can provide you with the following:
- A registered business address in the right part of town
- A business phone number
- Post handling services
- Workspace when you need it
- Conference rooms when you have to impress at important client meetings
- On-site amenities
- A receptionist or virtual assistant
- Access to other benefits such as community events
All these elements serve businesses with vital administrative functions, taking the time and responsibility away from managers. It will also give your business the illusion of a slick and professional operation, whilst the reality is that much of your work is done at the kitchen table.
Why do you need a virtual office?
Up until now, you’ve been working perfectly fine at home. So why do you actually need this service?
A professional business address gives your company a seriousness and clout that can help win clients and partners. If you’re trying to attract heavyweight customers, then a business registered to a home address doesn’t necessarily instil the confidence they might be after. Location is everything.
There is no denying that running a remote working model will save your business a lot of money. Whilst you will need to set your team up with adequate home offices, this cost will be negligible compared to the cost of an office space membership, furniture and tech equipment. Many businesses had to batten down the hatches during the pandemic, so any reduction in overheads will be welcomed by your CFO.
A remote working model is the ultimate flexible working model. Your team can work from literally anywhere that has a wi-fi connection. A virtual office is equally as flexible. If you need to move ‘locations’ you can simply change the address. As your team grows, you might want to get them together for brainstorming or collaborative work occasionally. With a virtual set up, you can hire a meeting room, and only pay for the time you need it. Likewise, you may end up hiring someone who doesn’t want to work from home. With many packages, you’ll be able to get them a dedicated desk at a discounted rate.
How much does a virtual office cost?
How much you pay for your virtual office will come down to the services you want and where it is. Not all workspaces were made equal. Some virtual offices only provide an address and nothing else. You will most likely require a mail-handling service as a minimum, but some can also provide on-site amenities or even a phone service.
At Runway East we offer 2 types of virtual office membership packages
£20+ VAT per company per month
Register your business at the Runway East location that serves you best. We handle the post, and you’ll also get access to discounted meeting rooms and hot desks.
Virtual Office Plus
£50+ VAT per company per month
If you think you’ll require the on-site amenities more frequently but still want to keep it flexible, then our Virtual Office Plus model could be the dream ticket. You’ll get the same incredible business address mail-handling services and discounted meeting rooms as our lighter package, but you’ll also get free use of our breakout areas one day a month, and free use for the rest of the day if you’ve booked a meeting room.
We run all our virtual office packages on a flexible basis, meaning that if you no longer require it, you can easily cancel. If you want to upgrade, we can handle that too.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of a virtual office?
If you are already running a remote working model (and most UK businesses currently are) you should decide whether you are even going to need a physical office space in the future. Some teams may prefer to work remotely, and if there have been no adverse effects on productivity, team morale and hiring, then going fully remote could be right for your business. We wrote a handy guide to the differences between remote and hybrid working in case you needed some clarification <Link to remote v hybrid blog>
So, if you have decided to go fully remote, but you’re not sure if it’s worthwhile getting a virtual office, we’ve listed some of the advantages and disadvantages for you below:
- A noteworthy business address that conveys professionalism to your clients
- The most cost-effective office membership your business will ever have
- Reduction in your business’s total cost of ownership e.g furniture and electricals
- Flexibility to grow your team easily without thinking about office logistics i.e you can’t outgrow your space
- A central base that you can work from when necessary
- Ability to still retain face-to-face contact with your team through available meeting space
- Postal and phone services where needed
- Reduced flexibility in terms of on-site amenities compared to other membership options i.e you’ll have to book and pay for meeting space in advance
- Monthly membership costs that (although small) may not be necessary if you can handle things from home
If you’re already operating a fully remote team, there aren’t many disadvantages to having a virtual office, but for very early-stage businesses, it may not be necessary. If you have any questions about how it can work for you, speak to the Runway East Team.
Other office space solutions
Virtual office space isn’t the only option for non-traditional businesses and remote workers. Runway East offers flexible options that suit a range of different work requirements:
For a low-cost solution without giving up any office amenities, opt for part-time office share with another team. Have an office space for 2-3 days a week.
Give your team an office base with customizable office space. Private offices are available for teams of up to 40 members.
Get super-fast internet service and lots of networking possibilities with a hot desk membership.
Have a desk for yourself and enjoy the feeling of a co-working environment. This option is perfect for freelancers and remote workers who want to be a part of a community.
Bigger teams can also set up their nest in Runway East. They can get all-inclusive essentials like meeting room access and free cake, without dealing with an office lease.
Give Virtual Office a Try
What drives a growing number of remote workers and business to virtual offices is their ability to fulfil different requirements. Runway East ensures that every individual has an enjoyable place to work and all necessary services needed to successfully run a business.
Find out how Runway East can provide your company with virtual office space, or explore our other membership options. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.