Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the world of work has evolved – as has the modern workplace. While physical offices were once a staple of the workforce, they’re now relics of a pre-pandemic time, and a pre-digital era.
With evolving technologies designed to support and facilitate remote working, companies and independent businesses can now choose to forgo a physical office for a virtual workplace, and a virtual address to go along with it.
That being said, not all business needs are the same, and for some, a physical office might be non-negotiable for their enterprise. So – when it comes to a virtual vs physical office, which is right for your business? Let’s take a look.
What is a virtual office?
A virtual office is a virtual workplace which can be used as your official business address. When you register your business in the UK, you’ll be obliged to provide an official business address, which will then be visible via the Companies House website and records. This is the case even if you’re creating a small, individually-owned business, and many small business owners end up having to register their home address as their business address.
A virtual office also allows you to benefit from various associated perks; many virtual office services offer telephone answering services, mail redirection services, limited use of office space and conference meeting rooms, and more.
What are the benefits of a virtual office?
Aside from simplifying the process for finding a physical office space, here are just some of the benefits of having a virtual office for your business:
Enhanced privacy for small businesses
As mentioned above, small businesses may either have to dip into their expenses for an office space, or register their home address as their business address. While registering your home address might seem like the savviest option economically speaking, it does come with a long list of disadvantages; as your address and name will become public, you’ll be targeted with a lot more spam calls, spam mail, and even cold callers turning up at your address. If you’re living with family members – especially young children – this constant stream of strangers at the door can be unsettling and inconvenient. With a virtual office, you’ll be registering your business at the address of the office building, so there’s no need to give up your personal and private information when registering your business.
The professional touch
One of the best things about a virtual office is that your address is going to exude professionalism and prestige; a London postcode is a considerable advantage for any business, especially one that looks to establish itself amongst competitors and give the appearance of success to its customers. With a virtual office, you can register your business in any one of London’s most sought-after neigbourhoods, giving your business that little bit of prestige that’ll impress your clients or customers.
It’s also much more professional to have a city address in a commercial area than to have your business registered in a suburban or residential area. When customers or prospective clients search for your business online, you want to make sure they’re getting the best impression possible – and having a residential address for your business is one easy way to lose a customer’s confidence.
Is a virtual office right for my business?
In order to understand whether or not a virtual office is right for your business, it’s first important to note that a virtual office can’t offer you a daily workspace. A virtual office is exactly that – virtual. While you may have access to meeting rooms on a quota basis, you won’t be able to use the office regularly. If any of the following applies to your business, a virtual office might be the best option for you:
You’re a sole trader
If you’re the owner of a small, sole-trading business, a virtual office can be a great way to cut back on the costs of a physical office space, while still giving your clients a positive impression of your business when they research your services. Sole traders can also benefit from the telephone answering services that some virtual offices offer – you won’t miss out on new opportunities while on the job.
You run your business digitally
With the tremendous opportunities that now exist to run a business online, there’s not always need for a physical workplace. With office technology like Slack, Asana, and Sharepoint, it can be easier than ever to simply run your business online. Additionally, by running your business online, you’re able to hire top talent from around the world, rather than being limited to hiring exclusively in your local area – not to mention the costs saved on renting a commercial workspace.
Plus, digital workplaces are the future: by 2027, it’s estimated that around 75% of UK businesses will already be fully digital. With a virtual office, you’re already establishing your business as a leader in new, innovative working methods.
You don’t (and won’t) have any employees
Whether you’re a freelancer, small e-commerce company, or simply work alone for yourself, a virtual office is ideal for business owners who don’t have any employees, and don’t plan on changing this in the future. As there’s no need for you to rent out a workspace for staff, you can simply work from home (or your nearest café) and register your business to a lucrative London postcode, such as a virtual office Mayfair.
You’re based outside London (with London clientele)
If you’re based outside the capital, it can be difficult to land new clients; many customers and businesses want to work with companies and services close to home, as local services are typically going to offer the best experience. If you work with clientele in London but are based in one of the surrounding counties, a virtual office can be the best way to avoid losing out to more centrally-located competitors.
When is a virtual office not right for me?
FIf your day-to-day work requires lots of in-person conferences, regular meetings with clients, or intensive on-the-job training, a virtual office might not be the best option for you. In general, virtual offices are best suited to small businesses and sole traders, who benefit the most from the range of benefits a virtual address offers.
That being said, some large corporate businesses do still make use of virtual offices; many companies use virtual offices for their telephone answering services, which they use to enhance the customer service experience while cutting back on staff costs.
The bottom line
Overall, a virtual office is a great way to add prestige and professionalism to your business, without the high costs associated with a rented commercial office. Perhaps one of the best things about a virtual office is that it allows remote businesses to attach a lucrative postcode to their official enterprise; virtual addresses are available across all the largest cities in the UK, most importantly London. By attaching your business to a London postcode, you’re going to add legitimacy and prestige to your enterprise – and this is going to result in an increase in clientele.