Most new entrepreneurs and business owners are looking for flexible and affordable alternatives to traditional offices (brick and mortar offices require higher costs and are not always a valuable solution for those who just started their business journey).Choosing between a virtual office and a serviced office might not be as easy as it seems at first glance. Both of them can seem like good alternatives to brick and mortar offices and can be a viable solution for a business, according to a company’s needs.
Before analysing the main differences between a virtual office and a services office, all entrepreneurs and business owners who are not familiar with these concepts should have a clear understanding of these two workspaces. Also, they must know what types of businesses each one fits best.
- A serviced office is a fully-equipped office space located in a building that is managed by a serviced office provider. Companies that are managing serviced offices are responsible for providing a variety of services, such as reception, security, administrative support, office cleaning and maintenance, etc. Serviced offices are pay-as-you-use office spaces, meaning that companies can pay only for the space they need. A serviced office is suitable for startups and small to mid-sized companies that need a physical office fast, but want to save money and to avoid long term office rental leases. Also, a serviced office can be a good choice for companies that need to access specific office equipment, but don’t want to buy it.
- A virtual office is an office “in virtual form” that provides a range of services, such as a virtual address, rentable meeting rooms, a secure business mailbox, email handling and forwarding, etc. The types of services provided can vary by virtual office providers. Their main purpose is to give a professional appearance to a business where managers and employers are operating from home or from any other location. A virtual office is the best choice for startups and small to mid-sized companies that need a professional look and want to save money but can operate remotely from anywhere in the world (except when a manager needs to settle an in-person meeting with a client or a supplier).
Serviced Offices Vs. Virtual Offices - 3+1 Differences
A serviced office is more similar to a traditional brick-and-mortar office, meaning that managers and employees typically travel each day to the office for work (only that the company using a serviced office does not own or lease the premises). A virtual office does not require the physical presence of the managers or employees in a specific place as they can work from anywhere in the world (the virtual address that a virtual office provides will make customers and suppliers believe that the company is operating from a specific location).
A serviced office is more expensive than a virtual office, especially in the long term. For example, if a company uses a serviced office for over 3 years, they might pay more than it would have cost them to pay for renting and furnishing a traditional office (where the company owns the premises). A virtual office costs a lot less and it can help a company save a significant amount of money in the long term, as long as the company can support everyone working virtually. Therefore, a serviced office can be seen as a short term alternative to a traditional office (or any other kind of office) while a virtual office can be seen as a long term solution for a business (a company might need a physical office only if it extends from a mid-size company to a big company - however, this is not always necessary).
Serviced office spaces provide the chance for all employees and managers to have face to face interaction, while the employees of a company that relies on a virtual office may never meet in person (some of them can also be located in different countries). At the same time, the employees of a company that is using a serviced office must live within commuting distance of the office, while the employees of a company that is using a virtual office can live anywhere in the world (meaning that a virtual office allows business managers to find the best talent in the world for their businesses).
Companies that rent a serviced office must be prepared to share the working space with others and to use some of the services or the telecommunication systems provided by the serviced office only when available. A virtual office does not request a company to share a service with anyone else (unless a business owner does not need to book a meeting room in order to meet a client or a supplier - nevertheless, this does not mean sharing a space with others, but booking and using a specific room in an office building).
Essentially, both virtual offices and serviced offices can bring advantages to business owners seeking flexible ways of working. Both of them can help reduce overheads and give businesses the flexibility to only pay for the facilities and services they need. Whether a business owner chooses to go for a serviced or virtual office, it depends on the company’s needs and organisation.