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virtual office  

Virtual office

A virtual office or V.O. is typically a managed telephone answering or email response service that receives and routes telephone or email messages on behalf of a small business and may provide some initial scripted response to a query. The business that uses this service typically does not have fixed office premises or employ regular reception or customer contact staff - and so the V.O. provides a means of receiving and passing on calls and messages when not available to deal with a customer inquiry. The prime objective of the V.O. is to assure that customer contact is captured and able to be followed up by whomever the call is relevant or important to.

Other Office Types:

  • Class A Office Space
  • Back Office
  • Middle Office
  • Front Office
  • Mobile Office
  • Paperless Office
  • Serviced Office
  • Small office/home office
  • Virtual Office


In some cases the V.O. service may contact the customer as well as receive queries from them (refer "telesales" and "telemarketing").

Virtual office services for small businesses are often provided by a business center, in other words, a building offering furnished offices with several services such as receptionist services, phone services, fax services, web hosting service, and so forth.

Certain providers of virtual office services will provide other in-house or outsourced services such as corporate secretarial services, accounting services, or legal services. Professional firms such as law firms and accounting firms often provide registered address services as part of their service offerings.

Virtual office companies that focus more on the "executive suite" side of the spectrum are located in major cities due to the high popularity of prestigious-looking business addressed. However, there are growing numbers of providers in industrial parks & science parks around the world, that often attract technology or manufacturing-based companies.


Self-employed individuals operating as limited liability companies, or small businesses with only a few employees and little to no scope for having a receptionist or other customer service administrators, will often use this service - especially when starting up the business and wanting to create a presence as well as assure that all customer contact is captured. However some large Insurance businesses, with a high count of mobile employees, will have a sophisticated virtual office service that takes and routes calls and messages to employees - and may answer some initial inquiries on behalf of the business. In this latter sense, the virtual office complements working from home (aka "telecommuting") and other forms of remote working where having an office permanently available is not essential to operating a business.

Customer characteristics

Typically, the users of virtual office services would be those who are:

  • Seeking a cost-effective alternative to renting a conventional office;
  • Seeking the benefits of a traditional live-answer receptionist, but at a fraction of the cost;
  • Looking to host meetings in a professional environment;
  • Testing a new product or service idea;
  • Starting a company;
  • Downsizing from a conventional office;
  • Expanding from a home office;
  • Migrating from a post office box;
  • Seeking to establish a business presence in the new country or city;
  • Seeking a business address within an expensive location, for corporate image purposes;
  • Seeking a business address as its registered business address to comply to government regulation;
  • Seeking supportive business services such as copiers, printing, faxing;
  • Seeking a proxy for collection or "fielding" of mail and parcels
  • Seeking a business address and anonymity at the same time.


While virtual office services offer benefits, there are several criticisms:

  • Lack of government regulation, resulting in fly-by-night providers;
  •  Commercial Mail Receiving Agencies (CMRAs) under this postal service regulation make it illegal to receive mail anonymously or under an assumed name.
  • Lack of structured training of service staff, as it is a niche industry.
  • Potential use as a front for fraudulent actibvity. The City of Westminster in London, in conjunction with Trading Standards in the UK, have introduced the M.A.I.L Fair Trade Scheme to combat fraudulent activity in the industry.

Alternate usage

Virtual office is also a common term for an environment that enables a network of co-workers to run a business efficiently by using nothing other than online communication technologies.

In the TIC sector, a virtual office is a category of groupware gathering organization, communication and collaboration data centralized on a server. The user accesses data from any devices (PC, laptop, PDA, smartphone, etc..) equipped with a Web and a connection to Internet.


  • Universal access - The user can access data in the same way at work, at home, on the road, in a meeting room at the hotel, etc..
  • Security - The data are no longer stored on the hard disk of a computer, which can be stolen, lost, be the target of a computer virus, etc.. In case of problems, the data are preserved.
  • Opening - While traditional software focus on an organization, the virtual office allows the inter-organization collaboration.
  • Location model - Instead of paying a license, the user pays a monthly or annual fee. Some publishers offer a free basic version.

At UK's leader in Virtual Offices, we also cover all aspects of the industry. Our office is a centralized and used for the purpose of virtual calling. We work as an advisor to companies to support and advise on any business solution.


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