If you are considering getting a virtual office address, or simply want to find out more about them, you have arrived at the right place. In this guide, we will run you through what a virtual office is, and how it could benefit your business.
What exactly is a virtual office and how does it work?
A virtual office provides businesses with a physical address, which is paid for on either a monthly or annual plan. Despite the name, a virtual office is you a real office in an actual location — you simply don’t work there and are never physically present there.
It can also provide office-related services and technology to help you shoulder certain administrative duties. This can include scanning and posting official government and general business correspondence for companies, and forwarding post internationally. These additional services will depend on the provider and their specific packages, so make sure to check which most suits your business and its needs.
There are no requirements to make use of a virtual office service — whether you are a sole trader or a limited company, you can easily set-up your new business postal address. While most people who seek virtual office services may be sole traders or smaller limited companies, there are also larger businesses and organisations that make use of virtual office space.
Uniwide Formations provides three types of virtual address service in London:
- Registered Office Address;
- Director’s Service Address / Service Address for each company officer;
- Company Business Postal Address and Mail Forwarding Service.
The advantages of a virtual office
In brief, virtual offices offer you greater affordability and flexibility than traditional office space, while also bestowing privacy and status. What’s more, there are some scenarios where a virtual office may allow you to start a business or company when such a move would have previously been unattainable.
Let’s unpack these benefits in more detail.
Affordability and flexibility
Renting out a physical office space — particularly in expensive city areas — can be tremendously expensive. Virtual offices are a much cheaper way of owning a business address from a costly area. Not only that, but you don’t need to contend with issues concerning landlords or tenancy agreements, which may conflict with your business. Additionally, a virtual office forgoes the mounting overheads that you can expect from a traditional office, including buying equipment and furniture, or hiring a secretary.
And with so many business owners working remotely, a virtual office can be very complementary to a flexible working life. With a virtual office, you are not restricted to a single location, but still reap the benefits of having a dedicated, permeant address.
This benefit applies not only to the likes of sole traders and single entrepreneurs, but also to those who employ a team of workers. As attitudes shift, many employees are becoming used to a more fluid working environment. If you can provide this, you will likely be regarded as a more valuable employer.
If you are a limited company, you are also probably aware of the crucial correspondence that you need to receive, such as from Companies House, HMRC etc. Having a virtual office address gives you the freedom to travel and work where you please, while important documents and post will still arrive at the same, secure location. Additionally, using a virtual office means you can even start a UK company from abroad. As all UK companies must be registered to a UK address, having a British virtual office address gives you the opportunity to start your UK company from practically anywhere in the world.
It is likely that you are heavily invested in your business and have spent considerable time developing its reputation. However, this persistent, hard work can be undermined by a single poorly chosen address.
The brand image your company projects is a fundamental part of its success as a business; the way your target audience perceives you is incredibly important. This is why businesses will often spare no expense developing names, logos, themes, and other elements of their image. And for many, their company address is just as important.
Having an office address in a reputable, inner-city location can convey that an organisation is established and holds high status. Although renting office space in Kensington, London, maybe unobtainable for smaller businesses, a virtual office address means you can benefit from association with this prestigious area — at a fraction of the cost.
Similarly to how many modern businesses have a website domain and corresponding work email, a virtual office will ensure your enterprise is seen as professional and organised. In the same way that using a personal email address may be regarded as unprofessional, a home address may not inspire confidence in the same way that an impressive virtual office address can.
Protect your privacy
When you incorporate your company, you are agreeing to its details being shared by Companies House. All limited companies are listed publicly, and details such as addresses are readily available. While this aspect of transparency is an important part of company law, it can be less than ideal if your company address is the same as your home’s. Understandably, not everyone would like their home address made available to the public in this way.
To circumvent this, a business postal address service will screen your home address, replacing it instead with the virtual office provider’s address. And no matter how many times you may change your personal address in the future, your virtual office address will remain the same.
Do I need a virtual office?
Now that we have considered the various benefits of a virtual office, it’s a good time to reflect on what one is worth to you and your business.
Although virtual offices are not a legal requirement for incorporated companies, there are two instances where having one will practically be a necessity. Firstly, if you are renting property and your tenancy agreement forbids you from using the address for business purposes, a virtual office may be required. Secondly, if you are based overseas — or starting a UK company from abroad — then you will need a British address, and a virtual office will likely be the most viable means.
Outside of the above scenarios, though, the merit of a virtual office lies in your own circumstances and how much you value the flexibility, credibility, and privacy that one affords. Due to how impactful even the small detail of a professional address can be, many would argue that the fees are a small investment with a considerable return.
Other features of a virtual office
The most fundamental feature of a virtual office is that it provides you with a professional address where you can receive post, no matter your actual working location.
In addition to this though, some virtual office providers will take on administrative duties on your behalf. For example, Uniwide’s Registered Office Address service will scan and email you official government post, free of charge.
Are there disadvantages to using a virtual office?
Virtual offices are a widely used service that empower both small start-ups and large companies alike to realise their business vision. The system has been established for some time, and has very few negatives. Although virtual offices are a more modern convention, many companies would previously use alternative locations as their registered address (for example, an accountant’s office).
Regarding expenses, service costs of virtual offices themselves tend to be quite reasonable, and are a huge saving compared to renting physical spaces, especially in inner-city locations.
Over time, there is the possibility that some businesses might evolve in a certain direction, requiring traditional office space that they can make use of. If this is the case, however, it is easy to cancel your virtual office service. And even in this scenario, there may be a very valid case for still maintaining your virtual office address. For example, it may be that your virtual address works well as an administrative destination, receiving important correspondence. Adding to this, a virtual office may suit a company whose staff primarily work remotely.
What are the best locations for a virtual office?
There is arguably no ‘best location’ for a virtual office, unless you feel as though a very specific address gives your business the image you are looking for. That being said, most businesses will opt for virtual addresses belonging to inner-city locations, preferably affluent ones. Although your virtual office doesn’t necessarily have to be located in the heart of London, a prestigious area will reflect very positively on your business image. As mentioned previously in this article, an address can be a powerful statement and can be the difference between losing or gaining prospective clients and business opportunities.
If you are looking for a prestigious virtual office address in London, Uniwide Formations can help. We offer a range of services to suit your business needs and provide a London registered office as part of our company formation packages. For more information about our services, please visit our website or contact us today.