In our last blog we gave a refresher on what a virtual office is and how companies use them to save money on traditional office space. Whenever we post about virtual offices, the one thing we are asked it “who uses them?” There are various types of businesses with various structures that use virtual offices – from small one-man operations to large companies.

The early adopters of the virtual office were small home-based businesses and companies who primarily worked on the road and needed to have a business address to better legitimize their operations by having a prestigious business address (instead of their home address.) Some had used P.O. Boxes, but learned that their customers did not want to deal with a business that supposedly operated out of a P.O. Box.

Another group of individuals that have adopted the virtual office concept are entrepreneurs that are looking to get their start-up off on the right foot by establishing a business address and phone number without the expense of leasing office space. They also do not want the added expenses that come with traditional office leases, such as having to acquire office furniture, telephone equipment, photocopiers and the other equipment needed to run a professional office. This type of virtual office customer will  usually choose a flexible business centre that offers meeting rooms and boardrooms a-la-cart that they can rent at a reduced price for hosting meetings with customers at the same address that is on their business cards. Another reason they choose to use a business centre for their business address is that when the time comes to get physical office space, they can sign up for an office without needing to change their address or their phone and fax numbers.

Some start-ups are based around a team of individuals who may be located in various parts of the city, province, country or even the world. These types of teams need a common address and phone number for customers to reach them, so they will choose a virtual office provider that can forward mail and phone calls to the various team members, while keeping the appearance of having an actual physical office.

Even established companies will use virtual offices to help them expand into new territories or to keep a local presence when they need to scale back a local office. When a company decides they want to enter a market but does not want the expense of a full-time office while they test the waters in that market, having a low-cost business address and a place to meet clients at is important.

This also gives them the flexibility of renting an office space if the new market turns out to be good for their business. On that same note, when a business needs to scale back and not have a staffed office space, but wants to maintain a presence in that territory, the turn to a business centre the offers virtual office services – so not to give the appearance that they have abandoned the local marketplace. In either case, mail and phone calls can be forwarded to head office or to an employee who is responsible for the local market, but who is actually working from home.

Two groups of people that are discovering virtual offices more and more are the self-employed and consultants who are looking for an edge over those competing for the same contracts. These people may be writers, web developers, bookkeepers, computer programmers, designers, consultants and so on. By having a business address, they are telling their clients and customers that they are not just doing what they do as a hobby or a way to make a few extra dollars, they mean business!

I am sure there are business types and models we have not mentioned here, because the truth is that any business can use a virtual office for any reason that fits its needs. If you know of a business model or type that we did not mention here, let us know in the comments or post a comment on our Google Plus Page