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Definition of a Virtual Office

Define a Virtual Office

by Aurelio Locsin, Demand Media
It is possible to maintain a virtual office with full professional communications.

It is possible to maintain a virtual office with full professional communications.

A "virtual office" used to mean a business that offered a receptionist, office services and a conference room for consultants or sole proprietors who did not have their own locations. They paid a monthly service fee to use the phone and mailing address for their own needs and met with customers in the conference room to present a professional appearance. Today, virtual offices mean something different.


A virtual office (or virtual company) refers to a company that may not have a fixed location yet functions as a unit to provide goods and services to customers. It relies on the Internet for document exchange, video conferencing for meetings and cell phones so employees can keep in touch. The office's employees might work at home or in different cites and countries.

Corporate Advantages

Virtual offices do not incur the costs of leasing or buying a building, maintaining it with janitorial and gardening services as well as providing furniture and cleaning for the employees and customers. Employment expenses, such as insurance and taxes, are also reduced because a virtual corporation can hire independent contractors rather than employees.

Worker Advantages

Workers can stay at home and yet manage business information with the same computing power they would have had at the office. They become more productive by avoiding the hassle of commuting while more successfully juggling the demands of work and home successfully. Because they are no longer being supervised closely by a manager, they are judged on the type of work they produce rather than how they produce it.


Virtual connections lack the social interactivity of face-to-face contact. Because many nonverbal cues can be missed in emails, phone conversations and video conferences, messages can easily be misinterpreted. Coordinating meetings may prove difficult especially if workers are scattered across several time zones. Finally, collaborations will lack spontaneity because they have to be planned precisely to coordinate schedules and time zones.


Without the need to buy physical facilities and supplies, a virtual company can expand more quickly than a traditional one. If a business opportunity in a particular location is seen, the virtual company can simply hire someone to handle transactions there. He can then visit customers personally and conduct business more effectively with a handshake rather than with a document.

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