There are so many options for workspace these days, it’s no longer a case of just a straightforward office let. Whether you choose to work from your kitchen table and use a virtual office, you may also choose to base yourself from an office, a serviced office, a business centre, a co-working space or choose to hotdesk in different locations when on the move. As the way we work has evolved so have the terms we use to describe the different services now on offer. It’s no wonder that I find a lot of people don’t even know these services exist, let alone what to call them.
Quite often I find I hear people using the term business centre when they mean virtual office and vice versa. It is possible that the two services can be offered by the same place, but each of the services independently is very different so it’s important to understand exactly what you would be getting from each before signing up.
If you’re at that point when you’re deciding whether to work from home or too look at other physical options, you might like to start by reading our earlier blog post Working From Home Or An Office which highlights some of the factors you may need to consider when making your decision of what you actually need before you look at the different physical options available.
A virtual office, quite simply is an office that you don’t actually base yourself from. You give the outside world the impression of being based at a physical location and have all the associated benefits of it, such as gaining credibility by appearing more established than you actually are, maintaining your privacy, perhaps appearing to be based in more than one geographic location. You can receive post as a virtual office, which, depending on the virtual office you choose, could either collect the mail from there yourself or choose to have forwarded on to you. A virtual office will also offer a telephone answering service, which means that calls to your business would be answered in your company name by a team of receptionists who would answer your calls as you wish, then send your messages to you directly, meaning that you don’t miss any business calls and that you again give an impression of being a professional business who takes customer care seriously. Typically you will either pay by the minute for calls, or choose a package with a number of inclusive minutes. A virtual office is the cheapest option.
A business centre is a building which houses multiple offices for smaller businesses. A business centre will usually have broadband throughout the building. Typically each room would also be equipped with a phone line and may or may not include a handset. There will be a receptionist based within the building and often there may be other services that could also be used within the building, for instance meeting room hire, photocopying, faxing or printing. Sometimes these additional services may be included within the monthly rent and sometimes there could be an additional cost.
Some business centres do also offer a virtual office service and sometimes taking up a virtual office service within a business centre gives virtual office clients access to business centre services, allowing the option of greater flexibility within a lower cost option. For example, you could take up a virtual office service, be based from home the majority of the time, but then if you needed to meet a client you could utilise the meeting room service, which you would usually hire by the hour. You could find that if you wanted to hold meetings a couple of times a week but didn’t need to be there all the time, a virtual office within a business centre could be a good solution for you.
The key with the small business market growing ever stronger, working solutions are changing and adapting all the time and you should be able to choose pretty much the ideal office, be that physical or virtual for the way you want to work.