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10 critical things that business owners need to know about virtual offices

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With unstoppable Internet growth and penetration, more and more businesses realize how adopting web solutions is becoming very advantageous. Take the case of having virtual offices as an example. With the help of the Internet, doing efficient business while establishing a reputable name can now be more easily achieved.

However, it’s important to be mindful of some critical points about virtual offices before deciding on having one. The following should be useful in choosing the right virtual office option.

1. There are many services that can come with a virtual office package. It is important to properly determine what is needed and what could be foregone.

Businesses that need a virtual office have to be acquainted with the different services available. These include virtual assistance, call center functions, remote receptionist service, voice mail, and a reputable virtual office address. Before picking a virtual office service provider, it is important to know the needs of a business to be sure that such are adequately and efficiently covered.

For example, a company that regularly takes customer calls and customer service concerns should choose a virtual office package that has an efficient call center or customer service system. On the other hand, a company that focuses on financial transactions should look for an expert in handling pecuniary matters. There are companies like Financial Guardian that offers virtual office services along with a host of other solutions such as the accounting, credit card processing, and offshore company formation.

2. Virtual office service providers also offer physical spaces. Proper location choice is hence also necessary.

Virtual office services are not just about outsourcing communication and office assistance services. Physical space services can also be availed. These physical spaces are particularly useful for companies that need to establish their presence in a certain area to better compete against other similar businesses. For instance, a software company can practically deliver all software services through the Internet but if it wants to earn the trust and secure contracts with government offices, it is an advantage having established a business address in the area where the target clients are located.

3. One of the main goals in getting a virtual office is to establish and maintain a sense of professionalism, to help create reputability.

Companies that seek to attract new customers or those that are new in the business can benefit from having virtual offices. This is to establish credibility in an area. A software development firm, for example, would be more appealing to prospective clients if it has a physical address in some respectable location. For many clients, a physical address acts like a proof that a certain company is legitimate and reliable.

4. There are different kinds of virtual office arrangements: lease or membership.

Virtual offices can be obtained through a lease agreement or through membership. Both options have their respective advantages and disadvantages. What’s important is to be careful in reading the terms of the agreement. Memberships are great for those who need “plug and play” offices spaces but they may not provide a secure way of establishing a business address. With a lease agreement, a landlord-tenant relationship is created so there will be legal protection and more defined terms to expect.

5. Virtual offices don’t necessarily mean the abandonment of a traditional office setup.

It is still possible, and in some cases even more practical, to have a virtual office and an actual physical office to suit different business operation needs. For companies that plan to expand to new markets, for example, having a virtual office in the new target market could be a good way of testing the waters before deciding to have a full-blown expansion or the construction of a building for a new branch.

6. Virtual offices should be able to support or protect confidential operations or transactions.

Businesses are unlikely to want to divulge everything about their operations. Law firms, for instance, need a space and a virtual office that supports and protects confidentiality. When choosing a virtual office, it is very important to ascertain policies on confidentiality and to check on the safeguards put in place to protect the interests of a business.

7. A virtual office can provide customers or clients some degree of reassurance.

For companies that offer financial and other high risk services, a virtual office (including a physical business address) can help reassure customers since it guarantees that customers have some specific address to visit if they have complaints.

8. Recruitment advantage can be expected but it is important to know how to do proper HR management.

Through online virtual offices, it is possible to hire the best talents from different parts of the world. Businesses can hire good writers or programmers from Asian countries, for example, and enjoy more choices of talents. However, this advantage cannot be properly tapped in the absence of good HR management. Employees who work from home and only connect through the virtual office need to be properly monitored and motivated in doing their jobs.

Some companies fail in running their virtual office systems because they hire the wrong people and fail to adequately empower their personnel or team members. There is a need for online employees or virtual officemates to have a sense of identity and belongingness. Without these, the benefits of a virtual office will be rendered useless.

9. Salaries can be adjusted according to the location of an employee in a virtual office setup.

There are possible savings in hiring employees for a virtual office. Companies may offer salaries based on the prevailing cost of living in a specific locality where the virtual office employee will be working. By hiring skilled people from sub-urban or even in rural areas, a company can lower salary expenses, reduce business operating costs, and maximize profits. Of course, it goes without saying that it’s okay to be practical with cost reduction efforts but it’s inadvisable to be stingy when it comes to paying web-based employees.

10. Virtual offices can mean lower office operating costs when properly implemented.

Business operation cost reduction is one of the main benefits of having a virtual office as it removes the need for monthly office rentals, costly utility expenses, office maintenance expenses, and other overhead costs. However, this cost reduction is not something that is automatically achieved. Effective management is also necessary. Before shifting to a virtual office setup, it is important to study the procedures and be acquainted with the best practices.

These points should be helpful for businesses to come up with a good decision in finding the right virtual office service or package to use. Likewise, these should offer useful insights or warnings on the possible pitfalls of switching to a virtual office system without the necessary preparations.

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