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Office Suite - Coworking and Virtual Offices

Updated on July 22, 2013

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Virtual Offices and Coworking are New Ways of Doing Business

Working from home has been a traditional option for someone whose business just consists of you. There are a lot of benefits to working from home, mainly financial, and a lot of problems as well. If you see clients, working out of your house can be a problem. Depending on the layout of your house, it may even be unprofessional. There’s nothing like visiting with a client when the dog barks to go out.

A few years ago the only option for a solo business person or professional was to rent office space. Because any good business person wants to keep income ahead of expenses, an office lease could be a nightmare. Typically you had to furnish the office, wire it for your technology needs and attend to all of the difficulties of managing a space as well as a business.

There are two new kids on the block, and they’re making a big impact on the lives of solo business people and practitioners: office suites and virtual offices. This article will describe each of these rental arrangements and help you to determine which is best for you. These options should be addressed in your business plan.

For an entrepreneur to be successful he or she must know how to ask the big question: What do people want and need? In 1983, James Blain, a Michigan architect, found an answer to the question. He realized that there were a lot of small organizations, many consisting of one person. He saw that the traditional business model of leasing unfurnished office space did not help the solo practitioner, essentially isolating these folks from the leasing market. He decided to provide a flexible rental deal with a modest price. He also realized that he could provide not only furnished offices but he could throw in other services that the renter needed. He opened the first “executive suite.”

An executive suite can be a dream come true for the right person. Typically the price is modest, the terms flexible, and the whole arrangement is geared toward allowing a single business owner or professional to scale up as needed. The use of an office suite is often spoken of in terms of the increasingly popular arrangement called coworking. A coworking arrangement really refers to an office suite where you share, cooperate and, in some cases, affiliate with the other people renting a suite. Many consider coworking an attractive alternative to working from home because of the collaboration that goes on between the renters of the suites.

The Executive Suite – What it Typically Includes

These are a few of the amenities that an executive suite arrangement includes:

  • A fancy address. Office or executive suites are often found in high profile office buildings with recognizable addresses.
  • A private furnished office, or, at a lower cost, a desk in a room with other tenants. Some executive suite companies offer cubicles in multi-tenant offices. The range of what’s out there is huge.
  • Trained support personnel.
  • A reception area. This is typically missing in a home office.
  • A conference room with a set number of hours per month, and extra hours available at an additional fee. These rooms are usually loaded with the latest technology, including projectors, screens and other A/V equipment.
  • Mail delivery plus access to postal handling services. For an additional fee, you can have mail forwarded.
  • Use of photo copiers. Often you will use a card which keeps track of your usage so you can be billed. Not having to buy or lease your own photocopier is a budgeter’s dream.
  • Kitchen facilities.
  • A telephone system.
  • Utilities, office cleaning and general maintenance are usually included.
  • Bathroom facilities and sometimes a locker room with a shower
  • Secretarial services. From reception to typing to booking appointments, this part of the deal is often the best.
  • Other services that may be included: use of a fax machine; delivery or courier service; limited use of office supplies, and, in some of the more upscale deals, they may even offer travel services.
  • Fitness and spa facilities are found in some buildings, and may be included in your package or available at extra cost.

A lot of the above services are extras, but that’s okay. It gives you the ability to pick and choose depending on your needs and budget.

A Virtual Office and What it Includes

The Virtual Office is another innovation that upset the traditional office lease arrangement. In 1994 a guy started a company whose name has become the brand name of an industry: The Virtual Office, Inc. It’s an innovation that grew alongside the skyrocketing advances of computer technology and the Internet. Sometimes called an intelligent office, the virtual office gives you a wide assortment of services usually without your having to sign a lease. What you don’t get with a virtual office is your own private office.

So here’s what you get with a virtual office:

  • A prestigious business address, just as with an executive suite.
  • A receptionist who answers your phone.
  • Mail. They will forward it to you for a fee.
  • Bathroom facilities and sometimes a locker room with a shower.
  • A listing on the building directory
  • Your own unique phone number.
  • Conference room use for an agreed upon amount of time per month.
  • 24-hour voice mail access.

Many who use virtual offices don’t visit the office at all. Instead, they have their mail forwarded and forgo the use of the conference facilities.This means that you can work in New York but use a virtual office in Portland, Oregon because you like the services they offer. Many companies that offer executive suites also provide virtual office services.

Technology and good old fashioned entrepreneurial creativity have given the solo business person a wide array of choice. Just Google office suites or virtual office and you will see the possibilities.

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    • profile image

      Jordan Smith 3 years ago

      A very good article about businesses. I especially liked the second half.

      http://centennial.com.sg/

    • profile image

      vipin 3 years ago

      Thanks for all this very useful information this resource is just what I was looking for google must love this site as my search for this information brought me right here.

    • rfmoran profile image
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      Russ Moran 5 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Thank you for your input Claire.

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      Claire Entwhistle 5 years ago

      Virtual offices are the perfect solution for all small businesses. The little things make such a massive difference such as where a business is located (or appears to be located) and having a receptionist answering the phone in a professional manner.

      Claire E

      http://www.alldaypa.com/virtual-office

    • rfmoran profile image
      Author

      Russ Moran 5 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Yes, office sharing is also becoming a popular arrangement. In the US it is somewhat inaccurately called co-working. A usual, Aussies say it better.

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      alloporus 5 years ago

      V useful hub. Both options are popular in Australia too. We are also seeing a rise in office sharing, probably because it can be a lonesome thing to work on your own from home, even if it is easy to make a good cup of tea.