By Robbin Orbison
A virtual office is simply an enhanced P.O. Box. Virtual office providers offer a number of different enhancements, but at a minimum they include a commercial street mailing address and some type of mail-handling service. Some virtual office providers simply forward mail to another location. Others offer additional choices and can include electronic notification and mail management.
Electronic mail management is a particularly convenient tool which forwards to the user a picture of his or her mail piece by email, along with a drop down list of options for handling the mail (forward, scan, recycle, shred or hold for pickup).
Virtual offices can also come with a virtual phone, which is a phone number that is unattached to any physical phone, and simply forwards to an existing physical phone of the user’s choice. For example, a self-employed individual can have a separate business phone number via a virtual phone, but have calls to that number forwarded to a personal cell phone. It allows the user to answer with a professional greeting for business calls, or to send them to a business voice mailbox.
Virtual offices are also ideal for the larger business that has a land line phone system and receptionist at a central location but wants to maintain one or more virtual “branch” offices. It allows them to have a presence in multiple locations at a fraction of the cost of physical branch offices. It also allows them to come up in Google searches in geographic areas other than physical location. In this case the virtual phone number is usually forwarded to the main reception desk at the company headquarters.
There are virtual office providers who do nothing but provide virtual offices and have no physical space available for use by customers. But most virtual office providers are also shared workspace providers, so their virtual office packages usually come with some hours of physical space usage. Therefore, when the customer happens to be in the neighborhood, he or she has a place to work, hold a meeting, or simply make a pit stop in a comfortable club-like professional environment.
For anyone thinking about a virtual office, now is a great time to look into it more seriously. Technology like electronic mail management is upping the convenience factor, and the maturing of the market is making it more affordable than ever.
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