Today Virtual Offices are big business with more and more companies choosing to invest in Virtual Office packages both in the UK and abroad. Indeed, looking back over the past 12 – 24 months alone, Easy Offices has seen a marked increase in the number of Virtual Office enquiries. So what is it about the Virtual Office that makes it so appealing to the modern business? Below Peter Radcliffe, Managing Director of OfficeFront Ltd, provides us with a considered insight into what motivates today’s businesses towards the Virtual Office package and the benefits offered by this popular alternative, or addition, to renting physical office space.
Peter and his team run a successful business centre offering a range of both Serviced Office and Virtual Office facilities to both UK and international companies. For more information on Daws Lane Business Centre please click here.
The Virtual Office…..its functions and benefits to modern business life, Peter Radcliffe, Managing Director of Office Front Ltd
Over the last 10 years through technology we have many new industries, services & facilities which, until recently have not even been thought of. We can access information and services within moments. These used to be only available to large corporations with specialist staff and a lot of time to research and obtain. The Internet has given, man, woman and child the capacity to find, the answer to any question and to obtain information or knowledge within moments. Welcome to the age of the super highway.
With this new found world of instant, limitless information combined with high speed communication, there is another new development. Heightened expectations at all levels, be-it in our personal lives or business. The new generation expect more and more as they have grown up with modern IT, even as basic as SMS on their mobiles. These expectations come in a number of guises. SPEED to act on opportunities without unnecessary delay which may result in loss of business or revenue. IMAGE portrayed by businesses and the professions, not only the big & long established. We live in an image conscious world. TIME to do what may be most beneficial to us to achieve our career goals coupled with leisure activities. EFFICIENCY to carry out our functions in a manner that will enhance our standing with those we interact with.
IMAGE…..We live in a world where what we look like seems to have become even more important than what we can actually do. You may think this is totally superficial and probably you are right. However, if you just give a moment of thought to our press & magazines, they all promote looks, looks & more looks. A shabby person walks into a room, shop or office, most people will unconsciously react negatively to them. A smart person walks in to the same place will be greeted positively and with a smile. This type of reaction feeds through to every aspect of our lives. Maybe wrong but that is nature and the world we live in.
SPEED….No-one wants to wait. Everyone is in a hurry, even if there is no reason for it. They want service or attention immediately. Go to a shop and ask for an assistant and you are told to wait, you may be restless as you are in a hurry, you have busy life, others are waiting for you. So what do you do?….you try elsewhere. Call a company and you are told that you will be called back but they don’t know when, so you call another company in the mean time. We just don’t want to wait anymore. This is the age of impatience.
TIME……Oh, how fast time flies. Business is good, orders are coming in, suppliers need to be hurried. Economy slows down, every potential sales avenue needs to be followed up. In either case, every minute is precious. How we spend it can make the difference between success and failure.
EFFICIENCY……..This is a combination of the above, the faster we can provide goods or services to those we appeal to and spend as little time to achieve this, will equal to our long term ability to grow our businesses in all economic climates and still give us leisure time.
So, whom can the Virtual Office benefit?
Actually, it is very simple and can fit virtually anyone in business or in the professions, whether they are a sole operator or a multi staffed corporation with or without offices and a permanent base.
I am not sure if there is another service that can be useful to such an immense cross-section of people, that-is-to-say, outside the retail service industries.
When I walk into a room, for a business meeting or a social gathering, almost everyone I see is a potential user of the Virtual Office or the Virtual Switchboard service. Lawyers, Accountants, Bankers, IFAs, Consultants. Plumbers, Electricians, Dentists, Doctors and so-on and so-on. Working on their own or with several colleagues and staff. Virtually NO limit.
The main thing that the Virtual Office client has in common is that he/she has perceived the benefits of what the service can offer to improve their working and leisure life added to the financial rewards that come with it.
How the Telephone Answering or Switchboard work?………………
This is where the difficulty comes. No, not the service, that is easy. The difficulty is to write about all the permutations available without filling several pages and boring you to death.
The principal function of the Virtual Office is communications management in the form of telephone answering. This is the first point of contact between you and your caller. Handled well, the caller is in a more positive mood by the time the call is connected to you. Positive can be just “Feeling Good” or “I am speaking to a quality company”. In either or both cases, this is to your advantage.
The call comes in on your dedicated number, “your” Virtual Office receptionist answers in your company/practice name. The caller’s name and company is taken and they are asked to hold whilst we connect them to you, their destination. In the meantime, they listen to pleasant music for a few seconds. Then “your” receptionist announces the caller to you and connects the call, just as if she was sitting in your office or building operating your own switchboard.
If you are out or never want calls connected, just messages taken, “your” receptionist can advise the caller that you are unavailable and take a message, whilst assuring the caller that their call will notified to you immediately and that you will deal with their call upon your return, which will be in a few hours or days……dependant on what you have instructed “your” receptionist to say.
So much more reassuring to the caller than a voicemail stating you are OUT.
For the larger company, the outsourced switchboard has a totally different meaning. Whereas the smaller operator gets a professional front, the larger business gets a major Financial and HR advantage. The cost of operating a switchboard can run into tens of thousands per year and involve the company in additional staffing and space issues. To run a switchboard, the following is a minimum required.
– Telephone system
– Maintenance contract
– Receptionist (One or More depending on size of company)
– Temporary receptionist to cover Comfort Breaks, Lunch, Illness, Holidays etc
– Office space
– HR Management + Advertising for staff
If the above is added up in a London office, it will come to about £30,000.00. This is a large sum, taking into consideration that it is payable irrespective of calls coming in or not. The switchboard is there, in case the call does come. So, if equated, the use of the receptionist/switchboard operator to the outlay, you will be told by any FD that this is poor business. On the other hand, the use of the Virtual Switchboard is extremely economical because, apart from a small monthly retainer, you are only paying for the call, as and when it comes.
How does the Mail service work?……………………
Many clients also need a business address. This can be because the business is home based and the client does not wish to be seen as such (IMAGE) or they don’t wish to have cold callers visiting their homes. Others may be overseas based companies that wish to have a UK presence but cannot justify the cost or don’t need a staffed office.
The Virtual Office Mail service provides you with a proper commercial address and NOT a PO Box number. The post is received at the Virtual Office address and then the unopened letters are placed in a new envelope which is properly addressed to you and with the correct postage paid. This service can be daily, once weekly or just once monthly. The Virtual Office mail service can also offer a mail opening, scanning and emailing facility which is becoming more and more popular with overseas companies who want their post the same day as received in “their” UK office.
What to look out for when choosing a virtual office!
– VO Address should not be one of the well known hosting or formations addresses
– Proper repackaging, addressing of forwarded post,
– How many will answer your call
– Where are the operators
– Strength of the company
– Belong to any recognised associations
– Testimonials (not just the ones they made up)
– Is the VO their major activity or a side-line (Serviced Offices, Formations Co)
What kind of people are using the VO service
– Doctors, Dentists – Lawyers – IFAs – Investment Bankers – Accountants
– Management Consultants – Training Managers –
– Builders, Electricians, Plumbers, Decorators – Property Managers
– Etc Etc Etc
So… small, medium or big, in this country or overseas, the benefits of using a Virtual Office or Virtual Switchboard are obvious.
Take advantage of the Virtual facility, it is the office of the future……..NOW!
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