For many cost-conscious small and midsize businesses, a virtual office is a powerful tool. Here’s a guide to everything you need to know.


Savvy small and midsize businesses are always looking to keep expenses and overhead low. One of the top ways they can do this is by leveraging a virtual office, which offers many of the benefits of a traditional workspace with lower associated costs.

Virtual offices merge the professionalism of a traditional workspace with the flexibility of working remotely, elevating your organization’s image while decreasing your risk and your own capital investment. This best-of-both-worlds solution allows you to run leaner and more efficiently, freeing you up to work smarter and more innovatively.

But when it comes to selecting a virtual office, there are so many varied offerings that it can be difficult to discern which is right for your company. This comprehensive guide will outline everything you need to know about the benefits of a virtual office, virtual office costs, and how to choose the virtual office that best fits your business’s needs.

What is a virtual office?

A virtual office is an alternative to a traditional office, offering many of the same benefits and services of leasing or owning a brick-and-mortar workspace or building at a price point that may work better for some small and growing businesses.

Owners and employees can work from home (or wherever they like), while maintaining the image of conducting business from a business address, and enjoying the support of business services without the actual cost.


Amenities of a virtual office may range depending on provider, but they typically include a professional mailing addresses, mail and package collection, and mail forwarding and phone answering services. Virtual office services also generally come with physical workspaces available for rent by the hour or day, so workers can conduct meetings in a professional setting.

Some virtual office providers may additionally offer digital services such as cloud storage and web hosting.

While modern offerings are tech-forward, the virtual office actually dates to the 1960s, when the first-known serviced office was created in response to changing work styles and an increase in real estate and staffing costs. (A serviced office is a fully equipped workspace managed by an office provider that rents offices and/or floors to other businesses.) These spaces usually included furnished suites, conference rooms, and photocopiers, along with reception and telephone answering services.

The History of the Virtual Office



OmniOffices Group becomes the first serviced office company.



Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), a packet-switching network that is the precursor to the internet, goes public by connecting 40 computers in different locations.



Jack Nilles coins the terms "telecommuting" and "telework” while doing formal research on the topics as Director for Interdisciplinary Research at the University of Southern California.



The Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP) — the foundation for the internet — is standardized, allowing worldwide interconnected networks.



Journalist Chris Kern coins the term “virtual office” in his September column for “American Way” magazine while discussing how portable computers allow workers to do business on the go.



British computer scientist Timothy John Berners-Lee develops the World Wide Web, and entrepreneur Alon Cohen invents an audio transceiver that later enables the creation of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).



Entrepreneur Richard Nissen trademarks “virtual office” and pioneers the digital exchange telecommunications system in the U.K.



Skype debuts publicly, offering free IP-based communications.



Premier workspaces opens their first location in the United States.

A virtual office is not the same thing as a coworking space - it’s not a place you go to work every day. While one of the benefits of a virtual office is access to physical workspace, those utilizing the service work elsewhere the majority of the time. Professionals who use coworking services, meanwhile, work primarily in an office building that provides shared spaces, services, and equipment.

What are virtual office costs?

The costs of a virtual office will vary depending on the provider, the location or locations you choose, the amenities you desire and a few other factors. But typically, a virtual office can save a business thousands of dollars — if not tens of thousands of dollars — in office expenses.

Additionally, having a virtual office also lowers substantially lowers the cost of commuting to and from work for both business owners and employees, both in terms of gas and vehicle wear and tear. A virtual office provides an environmentally friendly alternative, as well, as employees will mostly be working remotely and not using their cars, lowering your business’s carbon footprint.

One of the most appealing features of a virtual office is often its pricing structure, which is typically tiered or membership-based, as well as flexible based on a business’s needs. And these needs will undoubtedly change over time: many vendors can customize a plan for your growing business without your company having to pledge a long-term commitment. As your organization scales, changes or pivots, this plan flexibility makes things much easier on the business — and your bottom line.

Don’t discount peace of mind as an amenity of a virtual office service either. While it may not be a tangible benefit, knowing you can be flexible at any time could be the lifesaver your business needs in a tricky situation.


What features should a virtual office have?

As described above, a virtual office should offer a range of services and amenities. Here’s a handy checklist that highlights exactly what features you should expect from a virtual office. While not all providers will offer every single item on this checklist — nor will your business necessarily need each of these features — it should serve as a guide for what to expect to see from many virtual office services.

Because every company’s needs are unique, you may decide to add or subtract items from this checklist. No matter what virtual office features you decide are crucial for your business, the key to finding a great virtual office is to choose what makes sense for you, and to utilize every perk that your provider offers.

10 Features a Virtual Office Can Provide
  • A physical business address
  • Mail and package collection
  • Mail forwarding
  • Receptionist, answering and/or voicemail services
  • Access to furnished meeting rooms and day-use offices, bookable in increments
  • Private, furnished office or suite rentals
  • Access to office equipment such as printers, scanners, and fax machines
  • On-site access to a kitchen and/or storage space when renting a physical space
  • Digital services such as Wi-Fi access, teleconferencing, VoIP or local and long-distance calling, website domains, and cloud services
  • Flexible and cost-effective membership options or pricing tiers

How can I make the most out of my virtual office?

Once you choose a service that makes sense for your business, the next key step is learning about and maximizing all the features it offers. After all, you’re saving money by investing in a virtual office over a traditional workspace; it only makes sense to take advantage of every amenity at your disposal. Research exactly what services and features come with your virtual office, and contact your provider with any questions you have.

A virtual office is a valuable resource for small and midsize businesses, as well as anyone looking to save on overhead, stay flexible and pivot easily, and open in new markets with low risk and low cost. No matter the size of your business or the industry in which you operate, understanding the benefits of a virtual office and using this guide to choose one can help you achieve the success your business deserves.

Premier Workspaces offers a virtual office location for wherever you need your business to be.

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