September 26, 2012 | 4 minutes

The Costs of a Virtual Office

virtual office costsWith virtual office services ranging from $50 to $250 (and up) a month, depending on your city and your amenities, the price tag is much better than a typical office suite. It also offers a lot more than the home office or the coffee shop. After all, both of those come with hidden costs, like putting together that office infrastructure at home and all those lattes to keep your spot next to the outlet.

However, entrepreneurs and telecommuters need to be realistic. A virtual office will reduce your costs, but it doesn’t mean all your costs will disappear or that they will never come with new costs. Here’s a look at the costs of a virtual office; what you can expect when you pay your monthly fee and what other costs you can expect.

The Transition Cost of a Virtual Office

If you are transitioning to a virtual office from a home office, a coworking space, or a traditional office, then you might be moving your belongings from one place to another. If so, then that takes some time, time that would otherwise be spend marketing your business or working with clients. The transition means that, temporarily, you might not make as much money from your business, or you might have a few long days to pick up the slack. This might not translate into financial costs, but its an aspect of getting the virtual office that many may overlook.

Commuting to the Virtual Office

For some, the virtual office may just be someplace to have a professional address and to handle the mail. Other than that, you may be working from home or in coffee shops. That’s fine, but it does mean that you have to go to the virtual office regularly to pick up the mail (and at least pay rent once a month). Depending on the location of your virtual office, you might have to factor in commute time and the costs of that commute, whether its a public transportation ticket or gas prices on top of the time to make the trip and back. The commute may not be a big deal for most, but it can put a huge wrench in your day if you forget to budget the trip into your schedule. Commuting could also include any parking costs, if you travel to and from the office by car.

Any Other Virtual Office Costs?

Depending on your virtual office services or arrangement, you may have to pay for conference rooms or office supplies after a certain point. After all, if you use a whole ream of paper printing out research and contracts, surely the virtual office company will ask for something extra to cover that. Or, if you schedule 10 one-hour meetings in the course of a month, you might have to pay extra to have two or three of those meetings at your virtual office. Or, you might pay for some office supplies so you don’t have to compete with the other tenants when it comes to the stapler and the pens. Things change when you have a virtual office, so there might be some small costs associated with those changes.

Overall, a virtual office will help in reducing the overhead of a solopreneur or telecommuter, but it’s important to take an inventory or a catalog of what you spend your money on, and what kind of savings you’ll see with the virtual office. Sure, you might save $200/month on rent alone, but it might be close to $150/month if you’ll be spending more on gas to get to the virtual office and to use it for meetings. A virtual office won’t be a silver bullet, unless you mold it into the silver bullet you need it to be for your business.

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