Great! You’ve decided that a virtual office is the thing for you! Now that you’ve made this decision, the next one to make is choosing the virtual office company. In major cities, there could be several companies to choose from. To help narrow your options and, ultimately, make a decision, here are five questions you should ask a virtual office company:
Do you have other locations? – This is a critical question to ask if you are a travelling professional and would like somewhere to work at in the cities to which you travel to most often. By figuring out if your virtual office company has locations in those places, you may be able to use their services in those with little or no additional cost. This would save you the trouble of having to pay for additional offices, or finding somewhere to work at a coffee shop or a hotel business center.
What’s your conference room policy? – Some virtual office companies may include use of the conference room in their virtual office services, while others may still charge extra by the hour. If you’re planning on using the conference room often, you may want to opt for a firm that offers the conference room as part of their services instead of as an hourly fee. Most companies, however, require that you book conference rooms ahead to time, whether or not you have to pay extra for that time.
Do you offer a virtual assistant? – Virtual office companies also differ in how they provide a live receptionist. Some may only provide one upon request, while others come with the receptionist. In most instances, you would have to train the live receptionist in how you want your calls to be handled. However, that may not be necessary if just want someone to forward calls to you directly or to take messages when you are away.
Would I be able to get a day office? – Typically, a virtual office only gives you mail forwarding and the professional business address. It’s a great option if you work from home. But, if you also want the option of another productive place to work, then it would be important to ask the virtual office company if you could drop in to the building for a day or for a few days a week/month. Some may have the space for it and be completely okay with you doing that. Others may ask you to book your time in advanced. Some may not allow that option for their virtual office services.
How does your mail forwarding work? – Just about every virtual office company will have mail management services in some shape or form. With most virtual offices, mail forwarding is included. But, what if there’s a time you don’t want the mail forwarded? Who signs for the package when it comes in? Will you have to come in and pick up your mail from time to time? Those are things that need to be thought about when choosing a virtual office company. You’d hate to lose a check or an important bill because someone was careless.
There are probably many more questions that someone considering a virtual office ought to ask a virtual office company. What do you think? Did we cover all the important stuff, or did we miss something? Tell us in the comment section below!
June is halfway through, and what would count as the July 4 weekend (Independence Day falls on a Wednesday this year) is just around the corner. Even small business owners and entrepreneurs need vacations too. How do you ready your virtual office for your vacation, so that you can enjoy the time off without being bothered with phone calls or losing business because you are closed for a week?
Hopefully, you have live receptionist services available at your virtual office space so that you can have someone take messages while you’re away. A live receptionist will make it seem like your business is open by handling customer calls, orders, questions etc. without bothering you while you are away. This person will also act as a professional voice for your business, so it won’t be obvious that this person isn’t your secretary or an official employee. The live receptionist is someone who can handle these tasks in a timely fashion so they aren’t forgotten about, and potential customers won’t feel like you don’t want their business. If you don’t have a live receptionist full time, most virtual offices will allow you to have one for the week or two weeks that you are away, so you don’t have to have the service when you are back.
Another virtual office service you can opt for is mail forwarding or mail management, so the envelopes don’t clog the mailbox or pile up somewhere while you’re gone. You might not want the mail forwarded to your home, but you could forward them to a coworker or you could have someone keep the mail in a safe place until you return. This way, it won’t look like your office is closed, or that you aren’t organized enough to check the mail every now and then. It’ll also prevent mail getting lost or sent back because it can’t fit in the mailbox.
If you really have to work while on vacation, then what you could do is see if your virtual office company has services in the city to which you are travelling. Many virtual office spaces offer offices by the hour, or you could rent a conference room or a spend time in a lounge area. This option will beat working in the hotel business center, or trying to find a spot at a coffee shop or local library. At least the virtual office will have room for you, be a productive place to work, and have everything you need to get things done.
Overall, it’s important to ready your virtual office for vacation just like you would a traditional office or a home office. Not everyone goes on vacation at the same time, so you need to make sure that everything functions as if you were there, even though you might not be there at all.
Many virtual offices come with a mail management option, where mail is received at your professional address and you can come pick it up on your own time. If you are someone who receives a lot of mail, or even a lot of packages, there could be plenty of questions about who receives the mail and how you are notified when something arrives.
Your mail is received at the Allied Office location you select. A facility receptionist will sign for packages on your behalf, and you will be notified of its arrival via email. Mail can be collected and held at your location, in which you will have access to your private mailbox to retrieve at your convenience (no notification. Pick it up when you can). In addition, mail forwarding is available if you prefer to have your mail forwarded to an address of your choice. The cost of mail forwarding is U.S. First Class costs plus 20% of the administrative charge.
Mail management is an excellent solution for those who work from home, but don’t want use give away the home address to vendors and clients. It’s also a much better alternative than using a P.O Box since using a virtual office address looks more professional on a website and on your letterhead. If that’s all you need, it’s possible to only choose mail management as part of your virtual office services package. Mail management is also a good idea if you will be away on business for an extended period of time. Someone will be watching any packages and envelopes that come in, instead of them piling up and making it obvious you are away.
That’s how mail management works. If you’re worried about someone else handling your mail, or it getting lost at our virtual offices, then mail management should be something to consider. We place all envelopes in a private mailbox, so it’s not sitting out for someone to take, and it won’t get lost in the shuffle of all the mail that comes through the virtual office facility. You’ll also be notified of packages, or could have your mail forwarded, if you don’t want mail sitting at the virtual office. Overall, if you’re okay with someone else managing your mail, then consider it as one less thing you have to worry about.