A Physical Office, A Virtual Office Or Both

Post published 7th August, 2014

When you very start up in business one of the very first things you will need to decide is where you are actually going to work from.  There are a number of factors that you need to take in to consideration before making this decision, and it’s not always just about cost.  We’ve set out some of the things you need to think about before deciding on the best place to have your office.

How to decide whether working from home or an office is best for your business.

The first thing you need to ask yourself is ‘What do I actually need from an office?’

Is it purely a space for you to work?

If it’s purely a space for you to work, then often the most straightforward and cost effective answer is working from home, whether you have a dedicated office within your home, or even on the kitchen table, many successful businesses have started off this way.  There are numerous benefits of this, reduced overheads, no travel costs or travel time, being closer to home for family reasons etc.  You do need to look at this objectively though, you may have the space, but can you actually concentrate at home?  Do you have the discipline to be able to still put in a full working day whilst you are based from home, and will you be supported in doing this by the other people in your home?  It’s all very well having an office at home, but if you’re never actually going to be able to get any work done there your business may never get off the ground.

Will you need to give out the address to other people?

Giving out an address needn’t necessarily be the place you are based from if you use a virtual office, whilst working from home. In fact, you may find that using a virtual office can give you a more desirable business address than an office that you may be able to afford yourself in the early stages.

Will you need to meet your clients there?

Is it really essential to meet your clients on site at your office, or are you more likely to go to visit them at their premises, or are you more than likely to hold business meetings in a nearby coffee shop?  If they are likely to come to your premises then think carefully about your options.  If you take up an office you will need to consider the suitability of those premises for meeting clients in, ensuring that you create the right impression for your business, and also bearing in mind other factors such as parking and whether you need to have someone on site to meet and greet your clients.  Don’t discount a virtual office at this point, as many will have meeting rooms that can be hired out, giving you the benefit of being able to meet clients on site without the overheads.

If you are unlikely to bring clients in to your office then really it makes no difference on this point whether you are based at home or in an office.

Next you need to consider the practicalities of how you work.

Is there anyone else working with you in the business?  If you have a business partner or any employees do you need to be based together, or can you communicate just as effectively through, phone, email, Skype etc.?

Are phone calls likely to be coming in to the business number?  If so a virtual office is almost always a good idea in the early stages, whether you use this instead of having a real physical office, or, to actually support this.  If you are working by yourself, you will never be able to answer every single call that comes in regardless of where you work from, so using a virtual office is an extremely cost effective way of ensuring that you don’t miss calls as an alternative to actually employing staff.  If there are a couple of you in an organisation based in different locations using a virtual office means that a phone can be answered in one central place and then referred on to the appropriate person.  Even a small team sitting together in an office will struggle to answer every telephone call, taking in to account time out on meetings or on other phone calls.

Is location important to you?  Do you need your office address to be in a particular location because you need to actually be based in this area yourself, for example if you would be in this area every day meeting clients and it would make sense to have an office in that area to work from at the same time?  Or do you need the address in this area simply to enable you to win business in this area but don’t actually need to base yourself from there at all.

The demands of each business are unique and something that works for one company won’t necessarily be right for the next.  But by carefully considering the answers to these questions hopefully this will help you arrive at the best decision for where your first office is to be.

If you decide you’d like to go down the virtual office route, don’t choose your virtual office yet until you’ve read our article on how to find the right virtual office for your business.

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