Virtual Offices and Executive Suites

Virtual Offices and Executive Suites

If you decide to lease office space rather than buy your own property, a virtual office or executive suite may be viable options.

A virtual office provides communication services such as phone, fax, email and answering service support from a remote location, while also providing a physical address to which customers and vendors can send mail and packages. The office is virtual because you never occupy the space, yet have crucial administrative support.

On the other hand, an executive suite is bona fide office space, often including use of Internet, shared conference rooms and other facilities, leased by businesses that want to maintain a professional image while only using a portion of the total space available.

Tenants often share a receptionist as well as office equipment and other support. Some executive suites even rent offices or rooms by the hour to home-based businesses or other people who need temporary space.

Both virtual offices and executive suites provide advantages to the small business owner. The trick is identifying your needs and matching them with the appropriate arrangement.

Virtual Office

If you don't need to meet with people, a virtual office can create the perception of an established business while offering the convenience of professional communication support. While you will need to invest in your own copiers and office equipment, you won't incur the cost of monthly lease charges. Instead, you will pay a fee for the virtual office service, as well as have a place to pick up your mail and packages.

Here's what a virtual office service can do for you:

  • Receive phone calls "live", take messages and in some cases, answer questions.
  • Provide a directory listing.
  • Provide business equipment.
  • Provide voicemail services.
  • Establish a business mailing address, often in a prestigious location.
  • Receive and forward mail and packages.
  • Provide a virtual assistant for administrative or bookkeeping duties.
  • Provide office space rental on an hourly or daily basis.
  • Provide conference or meeting room rental.

Some virtual office providers offer a combination of services, including phone reception and package receipt, as well as leasing office space. Keep in mind, however, that most focus primarily on remote service offerings.

A virtual office is perfect for a professional wishing to maintain a professional image without incurring the cost of establishing an office or hiring permanent staff. The price is right, too. Many virtual office providers and virtual assistants bill only on an as-needed basis.

Executive Suite

If you plan to see clients, deal with vendors, or hold frequent meeting and don't wish to do so at home or in public locations, then an executive suite might be the right choice.

Think of this option as a lower-cost way to establish a physical office location. You can create a home for your company without committing to more space than you can afford, without signing long-term leases, without hiring full-time staff and without purchasing expensive office equipment and furniture. Most executive suites come fully furnished and ready to use, allowing you to adjust your space requirements as your needs change.

  • Small-sized businesses wishing to enhance their professional image while controlling costs and maintaining flexibility
  • Branch offices, temporary meeting rooms and special projects
  • Start-ups unsure of their long-term needs

Standard executive suite arrangements generally offer:

  • Customized signage and office branding
  • Offices, meeting rooms, lounges, reception areas and kitchens
  • Receptionist services, including call and mail/package handling
  • Office equipment such as copiers and faxes
  • Utilities, heating/cooling
  • Insurance
  • 7-Day, 24-hour secured access
  • Center management
  • Daily cleaning
  • Document shredding machines

Special services such as broadband/Internet connectivity, executive secretarial packages and audio-visual equipment may carry additional fees.

To decide on the arrangement that best suits your business, take a look at your short- and long-term requirements. If cost is an issue, find space on the outskirts of your local business center; more prestigious locations ramp up expenses. If image is crucial, limit your searches to the "right" buildings in better areas.

Next, focus on the services you require. Do you need extensive phone and reception services? If so, choose an executive suite that employs front desk personnel. If conference room availability is important, factor in that consideration when making your choice. Finally, be sure the executive suite provides the office equipment you need.

Once you've created a short list, evaluate each potential location in terms of cost and length of lease. Some executive suites provide space on a month-by-month or even on as-needed basis; other locations require a longer-term commitment.

Weigh your present needs against future plans, and choose the executive suite that provides the best balance of cost and services. When in doubt, choose a location with a shorter-term commitment so you can test the waters. The beauty of using an executive suite is moving to another location is relatively easy and painless.

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