Executive Suites Greensboro

Understanding the Virtual Office

To understand the concept of a Virtual Office, one should look simply at how the concept arrived at its name. The term Virtual is an idea applied in many different industries with strikingly different implications and connotations. However, Virtual, as used colloquially in the Executive Office/Shared Office industry has a meaning that is very much like 'pseudo' or 'not authentic' or 'in spite of appearances' meaning something that is 'almost something else but not quite really that which it appears.' The classic example of the word Virtual would be as used in the phrase "She is virtually (almost) my girlfriend," or "that which is not real, but appears to be real."

The term Office is defined as a room or area in which people work. One's Office may be a bench in a park or the counter at a local bar or restaurant, a room set-aside in ones home, or the floor space in a building or even a building dedicated entirely to one company. A typical Office usually refers to the location where white-collar workers are employed.

When you combine the two words you get: The Virtual Office; a place that is not real, but appears to be real, but where one conducts their business.

The term Virtual Office is generally recognized to have been coined by Chris Kern in September 1983 while writing an article for an in-flight magazine, American Way. In that article Chris was trying to describe the use of portable computers for businesspeople and the flexibility they have by virtue of the capabilities of the portable computers (the term used in 1983). With the advent of the new technology at the time (portable computers) businesspeople could appear to be at their desks in their corporate headquarters when in fact they may be thousands of miles away from their actual corporate office. Chris went through the exercise of defining and describing each word that he had applied to the phenomena and coined the term "Virtual Office." The term Virtual Office struck a chord, primarily with the "dot-com" industry that was typically made up of one or two techno geeks who needed just a little space that they could sit with their portable computers to create whatever they were creating. The space that they would be occupying at that precise moment would be their office, but not really a traditional office, thus the Virtual Office, a 'pretend office.'

Virtual Offices in the Executive Office/Shared Office industry have evolved from the concept of Corporate Identity Programs (CIP) where a businessperson needed a prestigious address established for business status, or for licensing requirements or to receive mail and packages, they may have needed to have their phone lines answered, or a place to host the occasional conference, or even to have a physical office for a few hours or days, all without the higher fixed costs of an office under a long term lease that perhaps they could not afford at the time. As the technology changed, such as fax machines, color high-speed networked copiers, T-1 lines, broadband width, teleconferencing, VOIP, internet, email, voice mail, voice-mail to email, fax to email, conference calling, etc, the CIP quickly became known as the Virtual Office to better describe the concept of the temporary use of any or all of the technologies and facilities.

Typically, the user of Virtual Office services would be those who are:

  • Seeking a low-risk alternative to renting a conventional office;
  • Testing a new product or service idea;
  • Downsizing from a conventional office;
  • Migrating from using a post office box;
  • Temporary escape from the kids and pets at home to conduct a business meeting;
  • Seeking to establish a business presence in the provider's country or city;
  • Seeking a business address within an expensive location, for a corporate image purpose;
  • Seeking a business address as its registered business address for complying to government regulation;
  • Seeking supportive business services such as answering services;
  • Seeking a proxy for collection or "fielding" of mail and parcels.

Virtually any industry that utilizes to any degree mail, telephone, and broadband width, conference rooms, meeting rooms or an occasional office becomes an ideal candidate for a Virtual Office.

The Virtual Office has evolved in of itself, breaking down into different types of needs or functions and the user pays only for those specific needs that the user has on a short term basis. All Virtual Office packages are structured to the specific use that a user needs. Such packages:

Mailbox Virtual Office:
  • Prestigious Business Address
  • Mail Collection and Forwarding
  • Access to a Day -Office
  • Access to Conference Rooms
  • Access to Administrative and Technical IT Support
  • Incoming and Outgoing Faxes
Telephone Answering Virtual Office:
  • Prestigious Business Address
  • Mail Collection and Forwarding
  • Access to a Day -Office
  • Access to Conference Rooms
  • Access to Administrative and Technical IT Support
  • Personalized Call Answering
  • A Local Phone Number
  • Voice Mail Box
  • Call Redirecting
  • Incoming and Outgoing Faxes
Virtual Office:
  • Prestigious Business Address
  • Mail Collection and Forwarding
  • Access to a Day -Office
  • Access to Conference Rooms
  • Access to Administrative and Technical IT Support
  • Personalized Call Answering
  • A Local Phone Number
  • Voice Mail Box
  • Call Redirecting
  • Incoming and Outgoing Faxes
  • A Predetermined Number of Hours of Private Office Time
  • A Predetermined Number of Meeting Rooms Hours
  • Access to T-1 Lines (Broadband Width)
  • Access to Audio-Visual Equipment

The Virtual Office of 2010/2011 is anyplace the user wants to be, but utilizing an Executive Suite/Shared Office facility for its base services at costs that are typically below traditional office costs. Each Virtual Office client will have a virtual plan designed for their very unique needs and priced accordingly. The future of the Virtual Office is limited only by the advances in technology that will be developed in the future, which virtually occurring as you read this history of the Virtual Office.