Are Virtual Offices Worth It? (Spoiler: Yes!)
Whether you’re a sole trader, a freelancer, or simply thinking about starting your own business, there’s one necessary step you have to take before being able to officially register your business in the UK: registering your business address.
If you don’t yet have the funding for a brick-and-mortar office – or if the type of business you’re running doesn’t require one – your two main options are either registering your business at your home address (which comes with its own inconveniences and limitations)n or registering your business via a virtual office.
A virtual office can be a great way to create a credible address for your business and get your company up and running; but are virtual offices worth it in the long run? In this article, we’re going to go over the pros and cons of virtual offices and explain how they work, so you can make the best – informed – decision for your business.
What is a virtual office?
A virtual office is a way for you to register your company or business at a commercial address (typically an office building in a large city) without actually using the office for your day-to-day business activities.
Usually, a virtual office package will come with a landline phone for your business (which will be answered by a virtual assistant and redirected to your own phone), an address, postal forwarding services, and in some cases, limited access to the office building facilities (such as conference rooms, meeting rooms).
A virtual office can be a great option for those who don’t need a physical address for their business, but want to build credibility with their clients and don’t want to use their home address as their business address.
Benefits of using a virtual office
So, what are the main benefits when it comes to using a virtual office? Here are just some of the reasons virtual offices are becoming increasingly popular with new businesses:
As a businessperson, your reputation and your credibility is going to be a major factor when it comes to winning clients, building trust, and retaining customers. With an official business address in a commercial location (rather than a home address) potential customers are much more likely to take your business seriously and use your services. Having a commercial address just adds a sense of legitimacy to your company; it proves that you’re serious about what you do.
Avoid the pitfalls of using your home address
Aside from opting for a virtual office, those without the means for their own business premises will typically have to register their business at their home address. This can be highly problematic, as your address will be publicly available online for anyone who searches up your name or services.
Obtain a central address
Using a virtual office means that you can base your business anywhere in the UK, without having to commute there or work there. For example, if you live in a rural area and register your business at a local office building, you might find that you get fewer clients and less interest in your services. However, registering your business at, for example, a London address, might make your services more appealing, even if you don’t actually work in the city.
Access to extra benefits
Aside from simply providing a registered business address for your company registration, virtual offices can also offer lots of varied benefits, including phone call transferring and postal transferring. Some virtual office companies will even allow you to use their physical premises for a limited allotted time per year, meaning you can schedule meetings and meet clients one-to-one – this is ideal if the situation ever arises where a client or potential customer wants to meet you in person to discuss a potential project.
In comparison with the costs associated with renting physical premises (and all the energy bills that go along with it) a virtual office is highly affordable, even for a small business starting out. While you might expect to pay thousands of pounds a month renting physical premises in a city like London, a virtual office can be obtained for anywhere from £50-£500 a year.
Work from anywhere
Finally, another benefit of using a virtual office is that you can work remotely while maintaining a credible postcode and official business address. The digital revolution – alongside COVID and Zoom – has transformed the world of work globally, and you’re no longer obliged to spend your workday glued to your desk. If you’d prefer to be touring European cafes with your laptop – but still want to retain your business credibility – a virtual office is the ideal option.
Why a virtual office is better than using your home address
As mentioned above, using your home address to register your business isn’t a particularly wise idea. Here are just a few reasons why:
Your home address will be public
When you register your business address in the UK, your registered company address will become public. This can cause all kinds of privacy concerns – especially if you don’t live alone – and can be difficult to manage on the administrative side of things. With your personal and business address mixed into one, it’s easy to misplace important letters or communications.
Cold callers and spam
With your address and phone number public, you’ll find that the number of cold calls (both on your phone and at your doorstep) increase exponentially. Not only will you be bombarded with leaflets and promotional marketing, you might even experience cold-callers knocking at your door. This isn’t just an inconvenience, it can be incredibly unfair on family members.
Reduced credibility for clients and customers
Finally, having your business address registered at your home address can raise red flags in potential customers. Many potential clients might prefer to meet before launching into a project, and might be dissuaded if they Google your company name and find that you’re based at a residential address. When it comes to adding credibility and professionalism to your business’ roster, it’s best not to base your company at your home address.
Who can use a virtual office?
So, who is best suited to using a virtual office? For those starting out in their new business, it can be a great way to cut costs on renting a physical office, and give you some immediate credibility with potential customers and clients.
You only get one chance to make a good first impression, so it’s best to have your virtual office address set up as soon as you launch your business. Other business types that can benefit from using a virtual office include the following:
- Start ups in early funding stages
- People who own more than one business
- Freelancers and the self-employed
- Sole traders (tradesmen, plumbers, etc)
So, are virtual offices worth it? In short – yes. Most new businesses don’t have the money to rent premises in a capital city, and many new businesses can be run online, and don’t need a traditional office space.
Whether you’re a freelancer or self-employed in the trade industry, having an official business address (at a low cost) can do wonders for your company’s reputation and your overall credibility with your clients.