A virtual office is part of the flexible workspace industry that provides businesses with any combination of services, space and/or technology, without those businesses bearing the capital expenses of owning or leasing a traditional office.
Virtual office services started in the 1960s as serviced offices and have evolved with technology to include a wide variety of personnel, physical space, digital storage and communication services. Customers pay a contract fee for these services which may be offered à la carte, as packages or membership subscription. The concept is popular with companies of all sizes, including self-employed entrepreneurs. One of the primary allures of the virtual office is the flexibility it offers for employees and freelancers to work from a satellite office, home office, remote location or even on-the-go via a mobile device. At the same time, a company can offer its clients and employees a stable home office with access to amenities such as receptionist, conference rooms, desk space, mailboxes, printing and faxing at a permanent address, which are owned and maintained by the virtual office provider or a third party. Virtual office providers may also include digital capital such as cloud storage, web hosting, email and other web-based applications.
Virtual office infrastructure may include a variety of physical locations and services, as well as digital services. The infrastructure is shared across individuals and entities allowing resources to be utilized more efficiently. This allows users the flexibility of only renting or using the services they need.
- A business address
- Mail services (receive, pick up and/or forwarding)
- Conference rooms
- Desk space and private offices
- Printing and related services such as copying, binding, faxing, scanning, laminating, and shredding.
- Receptionist services and answering services
- Storage space for documents
- A phone number
- Online phone system (voip)
- Virtual assistants
- Website domains and email
- Instant Message, chat and other web-based RTC platforms
- Video conferencing, including webinar-hosting or other screensharing platforms
- Online digital storage
- Cloud-based applications (e.g. Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides or Office 365)