Virtual Offices: what exactly are they?

For those unfamiliar with the term “Virtual Office”, which admittedly does sound a little confusing, here are some guidance from the experts at Scottish Provident.

A Virtual Office is a business location – usually a business centre or serviced office – where your rent services, such as the office address for mail forwarding whilst a receptionist answers your calls and patches them through to you wherever you are.

You don’t actually rent office space but for all intent and purposes, your business appears to operate from a professional business location. There are many benefits of using a virtual office, especially for start-ups, with the main benefit being a vastly reduced cost, compared to renting an “actual” office.

It’s purpose it wide-speard but virtual offices are often used by small businesses and start-up organisations looking to give their companies that “big business” image. It is also very useful for emerging companies that depend on mobile working, or companies wishing to expand into new cities with the costly set-up capital required to take office space. Flexibilty and room to grow is one of the most important aspects of modern working life.

Basic packages usually consist of just a mailing address, so you get a put a prestigious address on your company stationary and any mail sent to the virtual office gets forwarded to you. The next step is to add “Telephone Answering”. Upon signing for this service, you are allocated a telephone number to which someone dialling it, would be greeted by business centre’s receptionist who answers calls in your company name. With modern working practicises meaning we can all be in contact, it doesn’t matter where you are if you want to take the call but it can appear that the receptionist has merely placed the call through to you in your office.

The level of detail or, “how well the receptionist know your business” is down to the company you sign with, and of course, the amount of money you pay. Typically, the cost vary between £40 – £120 per month and in most cases, also carry “per message fees”, so make sure you know the complete story.

That’s not to say that paying more gets you a better service, there are companies out there that offer a fantastic level of professionalism at the lower end price bracket.

Done in the correct manner, it’s a fabulous service which can really drive down the overheads of an organisation.

Let us move into the second core service offered by Virtual Office providers, the accommodation or “mail forwarding” service. This service offers its clients an address (which typically is in a prestigious location) for their correspondence to be delivered to. Most providers allow their mail to be picked up/or have it sent to any address worldwide. In practice, what this offers you is a trading address, which allows you to work on the go or at home, maintaining a level of professionalism associated to established companies that have offices in prime locations.

The cost ranges from £20 to £100 per month and in most cases, also charge some form of handling fee for the post, if it is being sent out.

Typical questions you should be asking are; does the location offer meeting rooms?; do they allow the location to be used as a Registered Office address and are packages allowed at the location? These are all additional services that some, but not all providers offer.

However, signing for these services require extensive research, so do your homeowork! Ask questions and let these Virtual Office providers prove that they can be entrusted to handle your calls and mail on behalf of your organisation. The last thing you need is a call centre (this is where your virtual receptionist would be based) not answering calls correctly, or worse not answering your calls at all!

Ask if you can visit their location. If not, then why not and are they hiding something? You don’t want to be told by one of your clients that they have been passed by your office (that’s effectively what your address will be), and it wasn’t up to scratch.

It is a matter of fact, that the more personal the company is to its clients, the better the service. Companies that offer no communication, particularly in a field such as this, will never be able to offer at personal service, and lets be honest, they are the first port of call between you and your client and it doesn’t get more personal than that.

In closing, getting a virtual office is a great way to quickly establish yourself as a professional company and helps your business be perceived as an organisation that can do business.

With such an aggressive market, prices need to be affordable and the level of service needs to be spot on.


If you are looking for a virtual office address, why not contact Omagh Enterprise and see what we have to offer you.