What Is A Virtual Office

If you have been through the business registration process before, you have surely contemplated whether you want the actual physical space, or just the address and occasionally drop in. Virtual offices have become more relevant as people & businesses turn to digital & remote work places. And why wouldn’t they? Getting a virtual office will cost a fraction of what you would typically pay for physical office space. 


Which leads us to the question: 



Women working at her desk


What Is A Virtual Office Space?


Virtual offices are remote workspaces that give you the perks of a physical office (e.g technology, phone system, secretary, prestigious address,) at the fraction of a cost of leasing or owning a physical office.


The concept of a virtual office is actually quite old, starting back in the 1960’s but becoming more popular in use, with the integration of virtual business solutions (communication, digital storage etc.) Customers of a virtual office will typically select from a subscription plan. The most common professionals that opt in for a virtual office address range from solo entrepreneurs all the way up to larger corporations. The ability to work from anywhere is something that appeals to much of the workforce that conducts their work through a computer device. Typical amenities include: conference rooms, a phone line (with answering machine,) a virtual office assistant or receptionist, conference rooms, mailboxes, printing/fax, office supplies & a desk. From a software perspective, virtual offices will often come with cloud storage, web hosting & e-mail services. All office/conference rooms & business services are maintained & operated by the virtual office company. 


Employee working on her computer


History of Virtual Offices


The first ever office space was offered in 1962 by a company called OmniOffices Group. Ever since, throughout the remaining decades leading up to 2020, everyone from law offices, to University scientists, to conductors & entrepreneurs have used virtual offices or aspects of one in some way or form. Many, helped transform and improve the industry leading to a very improved & advanced concept that we can enjoy today. 


Virtual office space


Virtual Office Services


When thinking of a virtual office, it is best to distinguish between the physical & digital services that come with it. After all, knowing in advance the bells & whistles you want for your virtual office, will help you best pick a plan that suits your needs. 


Physical Services include:


  • A virtual address
  • Conference rooms
  • Mail services
  • Notary services
  • Desk & private office
  • Printing, copying, binding, faxing, scanning, shredding etc
  • Storage space 
  • Receptionist & answering machine
  • Registered agent


Digital Services


  • Phone number
  • VoIP
  • Virtual assistants
  • Website domain & company e-mail
  • Video conferencing
  • Online cloud storage
  • Cloud integrations (Google Docs, Office 365 etc)


Employee working from a virtual office


How Virtual Offices Work


Once you sign up for a virtual office, one of the first things you will need to make sure you complete is your 1583 Form. This will allow the virtual office company (CMRA) to process your mail and register your name under their address. It is very likely that you will be asked to notarize the document, prior to sending it in. Next, you will want to call into the company you are working with, to figure out the conference room schedule, ensuring that you have setup proper call forwarding & making sure there are no other loose ends that need to be handled on your end.


From this point on, any call that you receive will automatically be forwarded to the number of your choice, or answered warmly by a receptionist on staff. All incoming mail will be scanned & uploaded into your virtual mailbox. If there is any package that needs to be shipped to your address, typically you can get up to 80% off shipping rates. If you bundle your items, most likely you’ll be able to save even more on shipping. 



virtual office space


Why You Need A Virtual Office


There are some industries and professionals for whom a virtual office would make sense, and for others for which a virtual office would not add much value. It is safe to say, that anyone who desires to register a virtual business address and wants the ability to be able to book a conference room once in a while, would find great value in a virtual office. When you consider the list of services that come along with a virtual office subscription, you quickly realize that getting a virtual office could make sense just for a specific sub-service offered by that location. 


For example, let’s say that you are not interested in booking the conference room and only want to leverage the mail & phone service; virtual offices would come very handy. Just pick a plan that excludes conference room bookings. If on the other hand you change your mind down the road, you are always eligible to take advantage of more premium features like physical office space. Another perk worth considering, is the ability to drop into any virtual office location worldwide, using your existing subscription plan, to use the conference room of that office. Let’s say that you are on a business trip in New York, and originally had a virtual office in Philadelphia; virtual office services will allow you to drop into a new city’s office & book the room for a few hours (or as long as you like) given that that address is on their network. So even if you are always on the road, you can rest assured there will always be a quiet office space where you can crawl into and get your work done.


The one word that would best describe virtual offices, is flexibility. You do not need to use all services that come with them; you can use all, some or non. In any event, having a business address registered, is a much better alternative to using your home address as we have discussed before. So many security reasons why you want to separate home from business. Even if you never use the phone line that comes with the address, or virtual mailbox system, having your business registered at a prestigious location can only work to your advantage. The best part is, a virtual office costs a fraction of what you would typically spend to lease office space.


blue chairs in a virtual office


Virtual Office VS Physical Office


As mentioned earlier, virtual office’s middle name is flexibility; you can sign up at any time and cancel at any time. There are no long term leases that you need to abide to, nor one specific location that you are allowed to drop into for your office meetings. With a virtual office, you can pick based on different pricing plans & monthly terms, depending on how long you’d like to use the office for. Different virtual office services will try and sell you all the bells & whistles that come with a virtual office (for an extra fee); you are not obligated to take on all the add on features that they offer you. Pick what is right for you. You can always downgrade or upgrade at any time into the future, based on what it is you are trying to achieve with that office location.


From a practical perspective, getting a virtual office means that you save a ton of time commuting back & forth, needing to comply to typical office hours and of course having to deal with neighbor offices that may be noisy or crowded. Another benefit of a virtual office, is that you can pick from a variety of offices you are looking to use. For example you may need a co-working space instead of an executive suite. Or you may just need to drop in once a week for board meetings (using the board room.) You are able to pick from a greater variety of office types, while being able to utilize its features remotely.


Another perk that you won’t find with a physical office space, is all the add on cloud technology that is offered to you with a virtual office. Think of your mail; when you get a virtual office, all your mail gets digitized and uploaded into your virtual mailbox. That means that you can, remotely, access all snail mail information. If you were physically located in that office, there would have been no reason to do that, resulting in piles of paper that you need to sort through. Also, when it comes to telecommunications, using a virtual office means you can have someone from the office building act as your remote secretary to answer your phone calls. That beats the cost of hiring a full time secretary, if you had a physical office.


Finally, the ability to move any place and at any time, is another feature of virtual offices that people consider. Depending on what virtual office you end up signing up with, you will probably be given the ability to drop into any office space from their network in the country and even abroad. That is, if you are based in a specific city but anticipate being elsewhere for a few days in another city, assuming your provider has office space in that other city, you are most likely eligible to use it. Just make sure to book the dates in advance and communicate with the office staff so they anticipate your arrival.


employees interact through a virtual office


Virtual Office For Business Registration


When someone wants to register a new business, they will be required to display a permanent address that will be used for the business. Many people, especially the ones with home-based businesses, will just think of adding their home address. As discussed multiple times already, that is a terrible idea for so many security & privacy reasons.


Virtual offices can come in handy for business registrations, because you are not obligated to have a long term contract in place to use their address. Rather, you can just sign up for a single month to register the business. Of course, there are so many more perks to using a virtual office, than merely to register a business. But if that is your sole purpose of using a virtual office, it beats the alternative of getting into a physical office lease or using your home address.


cost of a virtual office


How Much Do Virtual Offices Cost


When considering the cost of a virtual office, one must consider the different features that come with it, along with the fact that you do not need to sign up for all of them. In other words, you will be picking from a pricing plan that best fits your needs, therefore adjusting the expected cost of your virtual office. Another important thing to consider, is the city and specific address where your virtual office is located in. A more prestigious location, will come with more premium pricing.


Another thing to consider, is that there are several companies that offer a virtual office solution. So the price will vary depending on who you decide to work with. Doing proper due diligence during which you consider what comes with each plan and the associated cost, will help you navigate through this virtual office hunt of yours.


Typically, for a good virtual office service, you can expect to pay between $50 to $200 per month. This will include services such as a local phone number, a receptionist, physical office space (meeting rooms) and of course your very own virtual address.


Person being productive in a virtual office


Increasing Productivity With Virtual Offices


According to a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review, when employees at a travel website were given the option to work remotely from a virtual office setup, they were both more satisfied with their jobs and more productive.  It sounds like the opposite would be true, but graduate students Nicholas Bloom & James Liang concluded that given certain caveats (and the fact that not all people will be more productive across the board,) allowing responsible employees to leverage virtual offices, will only help achieve corporate goals and company morale.


Virtual office network




We have covered quite a vast range of topics surrounding virtual offices. Regardless of whether you are a fan of the concept or opposed to it, one thing is for sure; it has disrupted a blue chip real estate industry. Companies like We Work have given traditional real estate a digital spin to how we function as corporate entities and a corporate work force. Whether this is for better or worse, will be seen in the coming years. In the meantime though, happy virtual office scouting!


What Is A Permanent Address

The 21st century has been indeed one of rapid digital transformation. The amount of time people spend online, is getting greater & greater, while shifting from traditional areas of attention such as the TV, spending time with friends, socializing in the “real” world etc.


This has led to a whole line of new businesses, that just cater to people online, as well as existing industries that have been disrupted & moved their services & offerings online.


Additionally, entire corporations are now banking off of the fact that we spend so much time on a computer & or mobile phone screen. Companies like Amazon, Ebay & Google, will keep us busy shopping online, instead of offline.


There is an interesting trend, that was especially noticeable after the crash of 2008, of businesses going online for the purpose of slashing expenses; indeed maintaining an office or building, is a lot more expensive than working out of your own home.


So in today’s article, we will be covering the topic of permanent addresses, and how these can be used for the registration of your business, helping you avoid many of the unnecessary expenses businesses had 20 years ago.


A residence with the street number 237


What Is A Permanent Address?


A permanent address is a physical street address that is under your name. Examples of permanent addresses would be a home or office address.


Such addresses can be transferred over & changed by completing a Change of Address form with the USPS.


Permanent VS Physical Address: What’s the Difference?


As you have just discovered, a permanent address is the physical street address which is under your name. Again, this could be your home or your office. You can use it for both personal and business needs. However, there are two address standards in the United States of America: permanent and physical.


A physical address is a valid street address which you can use for business and personal. However, it isn’t necessarily where you live (or work). Sometimes, it is referred to as a mailing address.


Unlike a PO box, it won’t have any restrictions. You will be able to receive unrestricted mail from all carriers such as UPS, FedEx, DHL, and more.


Even though it is generally business owners who use physical (or mailing) addresses, they are quite popular among travelers, students, and people in the military.


Employee on a computer analyzing data

Is A Permanent Address Required for Business?


Depending on the filling of your business, you would need a permanent address or a registered agent address. Such examples are LLC’s and LLPs. Having said that, you may well need a business address for your small company too. It all depends on what services or products you offer.


So, What Is a Registered Agent?


A registered agent is a person, agency, or other business who you appoint to be your “mail receiver”. In short, it ensures you never miss an important document (taxes, summonses, and more) ever again.


Examples of a registered agent would be the address for a business partner or your very own home address. The alternative to using your home address (and having it being in public display with the State and online,) is getting a regular office address out of which your business operates.


Due to the fact that office space generally costs more though, and not all businesses require that the business owner (or employees) be physically located there, startups will use a home address as a cheaper alternative.


A neighborhood with homes


Using A Home Address For Business


It is reasonable to want to preserve capital, at the launch of a business. For some people, it makes a lot of sense, using a home address in order to save on office expenses.


However, considering the affiliated risks that come with displaying publicly on the web, your family’s home as well as the solicitations you will get, you may want to re-think this.


Another reason you may want to avoid using a home address is due to the unprofessional look that it will give your business. Especially if you are just starting out and looking to make a good impression, showing people that you went the extra mile to setup your business properly and professionally, will pay off well in the future. Yes, it may cost you a bit more in the beginning, but it is definitely worth considering a registered agent as supposed to your house. After all, you wouldn’t want your kids getting hold of your taxes now, would you?


But there is a more practical reason why you should not use your home address, for business purposes. As you grow the business, you will notice that more pieces of mail will come through your mailbox and at some point, will create a chaotic paper mess for you and your family. Additionally, at some point you may decide to move to another residence. That can cause a serious disruption to the location your business is registered in, and potentially a lot of confusion for clients as well.


Black residential mailbox

Alternative Physical Address Ideas


So if getting office space is not in the books, and using your home address is not a safe or practical solution, what can you do to register a business? Keep in mind that a PO Box would not work as a physical address so you need some better alternatives than just that. Therefore, we’re going to discover how you can go about finding a business address that is not a PO box.


But since we are discussing permanent addresses (and not necessarily physical ones), here are 4 alternatives to a permanent address (which are definitely worth your money):


  1. PO Box Address: Using a PO Box will allow you to receive business mail as well as fulfill the address requirement for your business registration. Registering a business using a PO box is probably not the most professional way to go about it, but it is definitely a lot safer than using your home address.
  2. Pack and Ship mailbox: These are independent postal centers that will receive and process mail for you. Every neighborhood has them, and it’s a good way to register a new business. One potential hurdle could be that you are dependent tied down to lifetime of that business. So if for whatever reason the center goes out of business or relocates, you will be dealing with a change of address all over again.
  3. Virtual offices: We already discussed how your startup costs could go up with the lease of a real office space. However there is always the option of going virtual, and having a secretary answering your phone calls for you (and taking messages) as well as receiving your mail. Virtual offices are a cheaper alternative to a real office, but they’re still going to cost you a few hundred bucks per month.
  4. Virtual Mailbox: Think of this as “PO Box meets the Internet.” You get the perks of having an address that is distant from your home address, with the security you would expect from a postal service center, and rates that a Post Office store would give you. It is the ideal situation for any new business registration. There is an additional perk of viewing all mail online of course which should not be neglected. From the comfort of your own couch, using your phone you can access all snail mail online. From there, just click to scan, shred or mail forwarding an item.


How to Get Mail Without a Permanent Address


Of course, there is more to life than business needs. With that in mind, we need to talk about how to get personal mail with no permanent address.


Thankfully, it is possible. Whether you are a digital nomad, travelling for a living, or moving house without knowing where you’re actually going to end up, you can still receive letters, packages and parcels.


There are a few solutions that the United States Postal Service has devised that are fantastic options for you. Let’s get into the specifics.


Get a PO Box


Granted, this may not be that great for those that are travelling as you’d have to stay around the same area to access your mail. However, if you are planning to move to a location but don’t have an address yet, PO boxes are definitely the answer.


They tend to be located in the lobby of post offices so they are easy to access. In fact, some places offer extended opening hours for PO box owners (sometimes even around the clock access 7 days a week).


You won’t need to worry about security either as each box is locked by a code or key. Just bear in mind that there can be only one named key holder. So, you can’t have your partner’s name on the file too, unfortunately.


Snail mail entering a computer screen

General Delivery


If you are going to be staying in the same city for a decent length of time, or you know that you will be moving to that area shortly, you can use general delivery. Going with this option means your letters, parcels, and packages will be forwarded to one of the mail offices in the city.


Don’t stress, you won’t need to rush off there every time a piece of junk mail comes in. They will hold all your mail for 30 days. Bear in mind that you will need to pick it up in person and bring a valid, government accepted photo ID. This could be a driver’s license, student card, or military identification.


The great thing is that it doesn’t take long to set up when you need it. Although, if the city you’re in is quite big, the process will take longer. Why? Because you will need to call someone to figure out which post office to forward your items to.


Temporary Address Change


Of course, these options won’t suit everyone. So, you can simply ask a trusted friend or relative to collect your mail for you. Then, they can send it to your new address when you have figured everything out. Alternatively, you could save them a job and pick it up!


We mentioned earlier about the Change of Address forms. You will have to fill one of these out if you want to ensure your mail goes to your loved one. As we said, it’s easy to input all your information and submit it. Here’s how to do it:


  1. Go to the USPS website.
  2. Locate the Change of Address page.
  3. Click Temporary.
  4. Pay $1.05 so the online platform can verify your identity.
  5. Fill out all the information on the form.
  6. The United States Postal Service will send you a confirmation code. Make sure to keep this safe as you will need it if you want to cancel or adjust the information you provided.
  7. A welcome kit will turn up at your temporary address.
  8. All your mail will be sent here until you make a permanent change (or a different temporary one).

The Bottom Line


Using a permanent address does not necessarily mean that you need to put your home and family at risk. Distancing business from residence is good for so many reasons beyond security and privacy. Having control of business-related mail and keeping it separate from your individual mail will allow you to stay on top of things. It’s a pretty win-win situation, don’t you think?


There are several options available to you when it comes to using third party addresses to register a business. By far what we would highly recommend, is the consideration of the virtual mailbox, which gives you the advantage a PO box would give you, along with the convenience and ease that comes with a digital mailbox system.


Virtual mailboxes allow you to shred, scan, deposit, and ship your mail, all from within the app. Not to mention that our mail handlers are more than trained to give you a high-quality, secure experience. Trust us, it will feel like you’re living in the future!


US Global Mail is proud to be leading the way, in the virtual address world. With over 80,000 customers since 1999, our proven track record and success with handling your mail, has allowed us to continue with the same passion and dedication that we had 20 years ago. Just look at all the amazing customer feedback we have received over the years. We are proud to be backed by such brilliant people.


For any questions feel free to reach us here. We are always happy to relieve your concerns and queries you may have before you commit to our virtual mailbox.