There are very few people who will tell you that they enjoy the morning commute to their office and the late afternoon or evening commute home, but what is the alternative? What about an office commute that’s as short as the walk from your bedroom to your home office?

The idea of having a virtual office for a “solopreneur” is not a new one. For years entrepreneurs who wanted to work from home or on the road have used virtual office solutions to maintain a professional business address. Virtual office providers are not just a prestigious address and mail-drop location; they are, in fact, a professional image provider!

When the professional live receptionist at your virtual office provider answers your phone number (as your company name), the person who is calling knows they have reached your office. Depending on the nature of the call, the receptionist can transfer the call to your home office, cellphone or to voicemail. But what does this mean to small businesses with more than one employee? Depending on the role or function of employees, a receptionist at your virtual office can transfer the caller to the proper person, wherever they are located. Your client or potential customer is made to believe that all of your staffers are working from the same location.

Virtual small businesses have been on the rise for more than a decade, and they show no signs of slowing down. Small business owners are creating new ways to help employees stay engaged in their companies and are challenging the way most of their employees feel about clocking into the typical 9-to-5 job. The small businesses that go in this direction do so because, in many cases, it just makes sense. The idea is by cutting unnecessary overhead from their small business budget, they are giving their employees more flexibility – one of the biggest perks of creating a virtual office in order to keep them more productive.

The concept of a virtual office workplace can mean more flexibility for your employees, especially if they do not need to be working 9 am to 5 pm. If their job description does not require them to interact with your customers, why restrict their work hours to conventional office business hours? Flexibility of hours and being mobile are big perks for both you and your employees. But, if you require employees to be available to your customers on a 9-to-5 basis, you need to ensure that they can be reached on at least a cellphone, and that your virtual office receptionist can forward calls to them.

Not every small business is suited for long-term virtual office situations, but they can be a great way to start out. When a small business begins with a virtual office at a business centre that also offers physical office space for rent, they can move into an office without having to change their business address or the phone number of the company.

You need to evaluate your business model and the way your employees work alone or as part of a team, to determine if your business is a good fit for being a virtual business. There are plenty of businesses that have found a hybrid solution of having physical office space for some employees and allowing other employees to work from home or a remote off-site alternative location. Think about it in manufacturing terms. Some employees work in the office and others work on the production floor. The office can be located in one place and the production workers (who do not need to interact with customers or vendors) could be located at a separate (lower-rental-cost) facility – or even their own homes!