What really is a virtual office?

The other day we saw an offer by Bell – it said virtual office. Upon closer inspection it was just a digital phone system that allows for extensions and call forwarding. Then there are “phone answering services”. But none of these are really virtual offices.

A real virtual office is a combination of several concepts that are not virtual at all; they are all quite real! They are however, “light weight” and “lean”. To understand a virtual office, let’s first take a look at a real office.

A real office is often imagined as a building. But the building alone hardly makes an office. By having a receptionist that is basically facing the front door and answering queries from anyone has that enters, you establish an office premise – whether the building itself is a converted warehouse or a high rise office tower. It is this “front-desk” presence which establishes the office – it is a membrane that allows selective access. It is this layer wrapped around the people that operate within that esoterically defines the office. It is a building that has a membrane. A membrane that acts as an intelligent agent granting selective access to those within it.

To continue with the membrane metaphor, this membrane acts as a communications filter. All communication must go throw the membrane prior to communicating or entering the interior. Osimfloodpuve Once communication is successful the office shows a different side to it. registration offices There will be furnished offices, professional carpet, no loose wires and fire hazards etc. Most importantly, there will be private boardrooms and meeting rooms equipped with state of the art technology, mostly just to impress visitors.

Now we have established the 3 aspects that are part of an office. A building, a membrane and interior. Although we have been told time and time again not to judge a book by its cover, we do. That’s why large corporations pay hefty amounts to be located in modern skyscrapers. Moreover, the interior is richly equipped and elegantly designed. The exterior building creates interest and stirs the imagination; the membrane demands respect and suggests exclusivity; the interior affirms success and prestige.

Anything that does not aim to provide these three layers should not call itself an office.

Now what’s a virtual office?
How can a digital phone, or a phone answering service be called a virtual office? In a virtual office, it is not the office that is virtual, it is YOU. The three layers of a normal office actually exist! An exterior, a membrane, and an interior. Except, you are not really in the interior. The virtuality is yours – you only are in the interior when you need to be. The rest of the time the office, your office, will act the same way – creating the illusion that you are in the interior, while in truth you can be at the cottage, or on-site with a client, or just having lunch. Anyone who calls the office will be patched through to you (hence the idea that a call answering service or digital phone system could be a virtual office). However, anyone who wants to meet you, can do so at the office. This completes the image that one should be privileged and fortunate to meet with you – your clients will feel happy to be your clients, as opposed to you being happy for their business. The same way an office can turn your fortune, a virtual office will do the same.

As a result, don’t be fooled by ads offering virtual offices. Ask yourself, what can an office do for me? And can this virtual office do the same? If not, the term virtual office has been used incorrectly. Too many providers try to convince you a virtual office implies “almost an office”, or “like an office” – NO, it is a real office, in which your presence is virtual. It is you who are virtual in a virtual office, not the office!

Hope this helped. If you want to discuss further, post a comment below or email us at – thoughts@officeexec.com

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