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How to Build a Virtual Office

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 19 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Virtual Office Office Virtual Office

With the technology available today is quite a simple and inexpensive task to build your own virtual office. In fact, even if you run a one person business you can appear to the world as multi-staffed company. The technology needed to build a virtual office is minimal, inexpensive, and very user friendly.

What is a Virtual Office?

A virtual office is pretty much an office that is anywhere you are. The internet is used as the main virtual office tool and where ever you are is the virtual office space, be that your own home or an internet cafe. A business website can act as your office window and web browsers can simply walk in and see what services you offer.

The technology available means that practically every office process from telephone communication systems to accounting and invoicing procedures can be run using computer applications.

The Benefits of a Virtual Office

One of the biggest benefits to a virtual office is pretty self evident and that is cost. The overheads of a virtual office are extremely low compared to running an actual office. For one thing there is no rent to pay on a virtual office, no utility bills and no staff salaries. Other virtual office benefits include:

  • Work anywhere at anytime
  • The office is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Can give the appearance of a much larger organisation.
  • If there are other staff members they can be situated anywhere in the world.
  • Very minimal hardware expenses needed to build a virtual office.

Virtual Office Services

If you would like your virtual office to have the appearance of an actual location then there are companies available that will provide this service. They will supply an actual business address and someone to answer all incoming calls or divert them to a voicemail or other preferred number. They will also act as a mail drop where packages and letters can be sent and picked up. They can also provide meeting rooms where you can meet clients if this is required. Remember all of these services will cost a fee, usually payable by the month.

Use the Web as your Office

You actually don’t even need your own laptop or computer to start up a virtual business. There are plenty of internet cafes where you can hire computers to browse the internet. There are applications available that can turn a web browser into your own virtual office. Certain applications such as excel, word processing and other office documents can all be stored on the web and are then accessible whenever you are at a computer. Of course this is probably the cheapest way to have your own virtual office, and having your own PC is preferable.

Business Websites

Business websites are not a prerequisite of the virtual office but they can be very useful. Images placed on the website can make your business look like a dynamic multi staffed company when in fact there may only be one member of staff, you. Your website is accessible from any computer you choose whether that is an internet café or your local library’s public computers. Websites can make all the difference to a business on a global scale, and using voice over internet protocol (VoIP) telephone systems mean that you are always able to talk to customers from your computer with minimal expense.

Virtually Meet Your Clients

Web conferencing is another way you can use the internet to view and talk with business clients. Video conferencing facilities mean that you can actually speak to and see clients in real time using your computer. Video conferencing gives a much smoother transmission that webcam facilities and you can talk to multiple people at the same time. Web conferencing is not expensive to set up and your broadband provider should be able to help with the set up process.

Many people around the world work from a virtual office and this method of working is growing rapidly. There are over two million telecommuters in the UK alone, many using some or all of the technology used in the virtual office. The virtual office is a low cost solution for budding entrepreneurs with a good idea or a small home based business looking to cut overhead costs.

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