Excessive traffic congestion and surges in the cost of infrastructure in almost all major cities of the world are forcing businesses to adopt “virtual office” models in order to support telecommuting. Switching over to telework provides businesses and their employees with a solution to both traffic congestion and increased overhead costs. Virtual offices, by their nature, are designed to facilitate telecommuting.
But you may be asking yourself: what is a virtual office? What does telecommuting mean? And what’s the difference between remote work and telecommuting? In this article, we explain what virtual offices are and how they facilitate and support telework.
What is a virtual office?
A virtual office is a combination of off-site live communication and address services that allows users to reduce traditional office costs while maintaining professionalism. In other words, a virtual office is a type of office space that does not physically exist at a given location but which still provides a business with an official address at that location without the need to incur the high overhead costs often associated with long-term leases. Virtual offices enable businesses and their employees to work remotely by providing them with the administrative services of a traditional office, including mail forwarding, phone answering, videoconferencing, and meeting room rentals. Since employees can work from anywhere, virtual offices are a great option for companies that employ a remote workforce or for companies with low budgets.
Types of Virtual Office Plans
There are different types of virtual offices, each offering slightly different services and features designed to address common business needs. Knowing the differences between each type of virtual office can help you make a more informed decision on which plan to choose for your own business.
1. Business Address & Mail Forwarding
The most basic virtual office plan provides businesses with a physical business address, usually in prestigious locations. In addition to a business address, this plan also offers mail forwarding services. Incoming mail is sorted on a daily basis and forwarded to a specified location either daily, weekly, or monthly. In some plans, access to conference rooms, meeting rooms, or other types of workspaces on-site can be purchased.
Telsec’s mail service feature gives businesses an address in the heart of Toronto’s financial district, at 18 King Street East, Suite 1400. Our mail forwarding service is ideal for both incoming and outgoing mail. Incoming mail, whether domestic or international, is received by our experienced staff and redirected to the address of your choice.
2. Telephone Message and Mail Service
This plan includes the same features as the first, but takes it up a notch by combining these features with receptionist and telephone answering services. In general, incoming calls are answered between specific hours on Monday to Friday, up to a set limit.
With Telsec, businesses receive a professional and personalized digital telephone answering service 24/7. As one of the top virtual office companies in Canada, our services include a business phone number, a 24-hour personalized voicemail service, and unlimited number of incoming calls.
3. VoIP Phone Service
This last plan provides businesses with a comprehensive package that includes all the features of the previous two plans while also providing VoIP phone services. Popular and efficient, a VoIP phone service provides businesses with greater convenience by giving them the option of having all incoming calls transferred directly to their phone. When an incoming call is transferred, customers are under the impression that you are in the office or in town, even though you might be working from home or abroad. This service allows businesses to easily stay in touch with their clients from anywhere.
What Types of Businesses Benefit from Virtual Office Solutions?
Virtual offices are an affordable office space solution for start-ups, entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small businesses that do not need or cannot afford traditional office space. It can also be used by larger organizations that want to establish a presence in a specific location or a new market without having to rent an actual space.
When smaller businesses are just getting started, their budget for office space is low, so most choose to run their business out of their home. While this may save them money, it could also cost them credibility and potential customers in the long run. Without the professional image that comes from having a business address, customers may overlook these businesses in favour of other businesses that do have a business address. Having a virtual office in Toronto with a Toronto mail service address at a business centre like Telsec demonstrates to potential customers that you are a legitimate business.
Small businesses are not the only companies that make use of virtual office solutions. Larger companies make use of virtual office solutions to expand their business into new markets with minimal investment or else to support a remote workforce. Companies that do not have a Toronto office space, for example, but require a prestigious address in Toronto for their business’ operations and employ a remote workforce, will likely opt for a virtual office solution and telephone answering service to establish and maintain a business presence in the area. All mail is sent to the Toronto virtual office location where it can be picked up or forwarded to the private homes of the workers. When a client or customer calls the local exchange telephone number, their calls are routed through the central receptionist who handles the calls and any client requests. Calls to their Toronto virtual office can also be re-directed to individual employees’ home or cell numbers, or sent to voicemail for them to respond to at their earliest convenience.
Toronto virtual offices are also often used as mini hubs for larger companies without a local office who employ telecommuters and want to maintain the privacy of remote employees working out of their homes by having a business address that is not the same as their employee’s home address. This is especially good for companies with multiple telecommuters. Moreover, when a group of workers needs to get together for an in-person meeting, they can reserve a boardroom for a full day or half a day. This saves the company money because they don’t have to pay monthly rent on a meeting space that is only used on an occasional basis.
So What is Telecommuting?
We have already mentioned telecommuting, telework, and telecommuters several times throughout this article and you may be wondering what these terms mean. In this section we offer a definition for each to help clarify their meaning as well as their similarities and differences.
Telecommuting is an employment arrangement in which an employee works outside the employer’s office, typically from home or from an off-site location, thereby avoiding the daily commute to the office. Employees enjoy flexibility in terms of both working location and hours. This is made possible through a combination of telecommunication technology, such as phones, emails, and the internet. The idea is that telecommuters can work from wherever they are located instead of commuting to a physical workspace. A person who telecommutes is known as a “telecommuter”.
With the prices of real estate rising, more and more companies are switching to telework to reduce the amount of office space required which also helps them reduce overhead costs. Virtual office spaces are an excellent alternative to traditional office spaces and make the transition from in-person work to telework much easier for businesses.
What is Telework?
Telework is another term for telecommuting, meaning employees are able to work from home by making use of phone and internet-based tools. Employees communicate with colleagues and clients by phone, email, and video conferencing. To encourage productivity, companies often require employees to work during designated hours and submit timesheets electronically.
Telecommuting vs. Remote Work
You may be wondering: what’s the difference between remote work and telecommuting? While the two terms are often used interchangeably, there is a slight difference between them. Remote work is a job model in which an employee works almost exclusively from a location outside their employer’s office while telecommuting is a job model in which an employee works outside the employer’s office but may be obligated to travel to the office occasionally.
No matter the size of the company, a virtual office can be a great solution for those working from non-traditional office spaces. There are also plenty of other benefits to purchasing a virtual office, especially for clients at Telsec. To learn more about Telsec’s virtual office plans as well as additional features or services, visit our virtual office page or contact our friendly staff at 416.363.9035 or toll free at 1.877.705.0707. For more information regarding virtual office rates, please visit our pricing page.