Are you a fan of HowStuffWorks? You can find out how just about anything works on this sprawling Web site – including virtual offices.
In fact, HowStuffWorks devotes quite a lot of energy discussing how virtual offices work, including how to set up a virtual office, virtual office software, virtual office business communication tools and even information about virtual assistants.
What does this tell you? That people want to know more about virtual offices and all the virtual bells and whistles that surround them. Virtual offices are saving entrepreneurs time and money in several ways, including:
- Offering home-based businesses the ability to have mail delivered to a prestigious business address
- Giving remote workers the ability to access meeting rooms and day offices on an on-demand basis
- Offering services like virtual receptionists and virtual assistants and more
Virtual offices are one of the fastest growing segments of the office industry. Instead of renting a traditional office space for hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month, a start-up can start up with a virtual office space for as little as $50 a month. This is an amazing value proposition.
Of course, not all virtual offices are created equal. So be sure to compare the features and benefits of virtual office brands against each other before committing. Just as you wouldn’t want to move from physical office to physical office on a whim, you don’t want to make a habit of jumping from virtual office to virtual office either. Beyond changing your 800 number, it causes confusion around your physical address and could delay your mail delivery.
If you want to know how virtual offices work, some vendors offer a free trial. Others offer a set-up fee that makes it prohibitive to try their service. So, again, be sure you understand all of the restrictions and contracts before you engage with a virtual office provider. All that said, virtual offices are a dream come true for many entrepreneurs because they can offer convenient services, a professional image and cost-savings that brick and mortar competitors can’t match.
A Better Virtual congratulates Phone.com. The company took home Internet Telephony magazine’s 2009 Product of the Year award for its Virtual Office Phone System.
That’s quite an honor in the 800 number industry, and Phone.com is worthy of the honor – again. That’s right – I said again. This is not the first time Phone.com has run away with this award and it might not be the last.
Let’s listen in to Phone.com’s CEO as he offers his heartfelt thanks for the repeat award.
“Phone.com is extremely pleased to receive the Internet Telephony Product of the Year Award for a third year in a row!” Ari Rabban said. “Phone.com is continuing to grow nicely. Our customer base is growing every month and we are constantly improving and adding more services and applications to our product line. We have been getting great reviews from both the industry and our customers and look forward to sharing more new developments in the months to come.”
Some of Phone.com’s features include one phone number to reach all locations and staff and text voicemail. With Phone.com, you can also send a fax from your PC, add business phones to any virtual office extension – all without any equipment to purchase or maintain.
Phone.com’s virtual phone offers are powered by advanced VoIP and SaaS technologies. The company offers three Internet-based communications products: Phone.com Virtual Office for small businesses, Phone.com Virtual Number for individuals on the go and Phone.com Home Phone for consumers.
Phone.com’s monthly plans starting at $4.88 a month. Right now, the company is running a special – one month free when you sign up. Be sure to inquire about the rates per minute before you sign on the dotted line. Phone.com is certainly a reputable virtual office system company, but those per-minute fees can add up in a hurry. So take the time to know what you are getting into before you sign on the dotted line.
If you are looking for the coolness factor in a virtual receptionist, look no further than Ruby Receptionists. Ruby is a full-service receptionist that’s professional, economical, friendly, smart and flexible.
A Service of WorkSource, Inc., Ruby Receptionists offers a 14-day free trial of its virtual receptionist services. Ruby prides itself on training and promises its virtual receptionists won’t offer canned speeches or conversations, but rather charm and a can-do attitude your customers will love.
Not your traditional live answering service, Ruby Receptionists offers an alternative to on-site assistants and answering services. Ruby screens your telephone calls and lets you know who’s on the line before transferring, connects you to callers, provides callers with vital information such as descriptions of your services and directions to your office, and is always sure to promptly relay messages to you.
Let’s hear from a customer of this cool virtual receptionist company: “They are absolutely awesome! I have tested out a number of receptionist services and Ruby is hands-down the best I have ever seen. We started receiving compliments from our clients the first week we signed up. You’ll love them,” says Michael Reynolds, president and CEO of SpinWeb.
I could go on and on about this company. It’s definitely one of the best-positioned virtual receptionist players out there. I am not exactly sure how it stacks up to a Davinci Virtual, but it definitely offers an alternative to the executive suites players that are invading the virtual receptionist market.
If you want to know what a virtual office is, you might try looking up the term in the world’s most popular virtual encyclopedia. Wikipedia is up on the virtual office trend, giving its user-generated definitions and explanations of the industry in its own wiki-way.
So what is a virtual office? According to Wikipedia, a virtual office is “a combination of off-site live communication and address services that allow users to reduce traditional office costs while maintaining business professionalism.” That’s a mouthful, isn’t it? But it sums up the concept nicely.
Wikipedia also goes on to explain how virtual offices are often confused with office business centers or executive suites. The difference between the two is this: virtual offices give you access to a physical conference room when needed but the services are provided virtually. An executive office suite gives you a physical location you can access every day as part of a rental agreement.
Virtual offices also include the concepts of virtual receptionists who can answer an 800 number on behalf of your company, as well as virtual assistants that can complete administrative tasks to free up your internal resources. Working together, virtual offices, virtual receptionists and virtual assistants can complete the circle of officing needs for entrepreneurs, small businesses and even large enterprises moving into new geographic territories.
Chapman Executive Suites is known for its serviced office space in Orange County, California. Now, the company is making its move into virtual office plans in its home region.
Following an industry trend, Chapman Executive Suites is targeting entrepreneurs and small business owners that want a professional image without the professional price tag. In other words, Chapman is making room in its business model to accommodate professionals that may not have the budget for a full-time office space but still need to offer clients a prestigious business address and occasionally use a conference room for meetings. That is the promise of the virtual office.
Chapman Executive Suites puts it this way: “Maybe you can’t move into your own private, full serviced office just yet but need a business address and a professional place where you can meet clients. Or maybe just relax in business lounge or enjoy the use of fully-equipped kitchens with coffee and tea service. Why not also add a friendly, helpful receptionist answering your phone calls so your clients are greeted with a live person who then puts your calls to a voicemail that you can easily retrieve from any location?”
Virtual office space, virtual receptionists and virtual assistants are helping to transform the world of work. Despite the dominance of companies like Regus and Davinci, executive office suites providers are making a push to offer virtual offices to new and existing clients. It’s an area of growth in the industry that’s likely to continue as many entrepreneurs use virtual offices as a stepping stone to a full-time office.
Chapman is positioning itself to cater to the needs of entrepreneurs from the concept of their idea to the growth of their dream. Chapman Executive does offer some strategic business addresses in Orange County. Chapman’s virtual offices run $199 to $250 a month in Orange, Anaheim, Irvine, Santa Ana, Tustin, Fullerton and a dozen other cities in region.
It’s one thing for a virtual assistant company to market itself as a premier solution. It’s another thing altogether for a virtual assistant company to earn the right to market itself as an award-winning solution. Dianna Lambert has earned that right.
Owner of Online Virtual Office Solutions, Lambert just received the VAccolade Business Entrepreneur Award. This is nothing to sneeze at. The award does more than recognizes participation at VAnetworking, the world’s largest member-based virtual assistant networking association online. More importantly, the award recognizes the Lambert’s professionalism in the virtual assistant field. Lambert’s Web presence, the association determined, gives her more credibility among other virtual assistants.
Also known as VAs, virtual assistants are entrepreneurs who provide professional support, services and skills to clients from their own offices. Virtual assistants work via phone, fax and Internet technologies. VAs market themselves as a vehicle to relieve the stress of busy professionals, protect cash flow by serving as a cost-effective alternative to hiring a full-time employee, reducing administrative hassles, and otherwise freeing up clients to meet their business goals.
Lambert is a relative newcomer to the virtual assistant industry. She launched Online Virtual Office Solutions in 2009, but she’s quickly carved out a niche in the transportation industry. She regularly offers administrative help to administrators, safety personnel and human resources professionals in the transportation industry.
aBetterVirtual congratulates Lambert and Online Virtual Office Solutions.
It’s been a bit of a slow week of virtual office news, but that’s not much different from the norm!
Over on aBetterOffice, I got pinged by someone wanting some PR on their new PBX offering. The company is called InVox, and it looks like the have a pretty good service. They seem to be focused on the software that runs their system to make it easy for companies to set-up and run the system. Check it out if you need IVR or a simple but full featured PBX system. For some reason, they have two websites: InVox and PBXPlus.
I ran into this fairly interesting article about the state of real estate brokerage and their office space. Essentially, it is a brief on the change to virtual office space. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mention the great options for virtual offices other than laptops, cell phones and Starbucks. I used to work virtually in Starbucks and it’s really hard… I’d rather not hear another extoll those virtues…
Again, here is some ridiculousness from Telsec up in Toronto.
This is kind of funny. I wouldn’t say it’s terribly egregious what the company has done, and this blogger looks like she has some contempt anyway based on the topic of the blog. Nonetheless, it’s annoying, and sounds like a typical corporate entity.
We’ve been dissecting a RingCentral survey that looks at the changing nature of how and where people work. The next revelation worth exploring is this: 80 percent of business surveyed want to give the impression that their employees are in the office when receiving or making business calls outside of the office.
That’s the beauty of the virtual office.
While the office paradigm continues to change, with more employees working from remote sites, it can be challenging for businesses to integrate geographically dispersed or mobile workers into a single business phone system. The result can be management difficulties and overall inefficient and unprofessional communications.
“This survey demonstrates that even with the trend toward a flexible, distributed office model, today’s business is not willing to compromise on the professionalism associated with a traditional office model,” says Vlad Shmunis, CEO of RingCentral.
RingCentral comes to the rescue with a cloud-based business phone system that seeks to leap over hurdles created by legacy on-premise systems that are expensive and fail to keep up with Internet and mobile innovations. RingCentral Office is a cloud-based business phone system that’s designed specifically for the modern mobile and distributed business world at a much lower price than traditional systems.
“RingCentral Office is designed to meet the needs of the modern mobile business world,” Shmunis says. “RingCentral facilitates the seamless integration of distributed employees into a single business phone system regardless of the employee’s choice of phones – mobile or fixed line. The best part is that businesses do not need to spend a single dollar in capital expenditure.”
Virtually There VA Services bills itself as a virtual assistant company that simplifies the lives of busy entrepreneurs while increasing your profitability. That’s a tall order. Could it be realistic?
Kelly Sims heads up Virtually There VA Services. She’s an administrative assistant with 11 years of professional experience, including five years as an executive assistant to the president and Chief Financial Officer of a multinational corporation. Sims isn’t a one-woman show. She’s built a team of virtual assistants with their own specialized skill sets, from web design to project management and from paralegal work to bookkeeping.
Sims’ Web site offer some good information, including pricing paradigms and a free e-book called, “How to Add 2 Hours to Your Day: Lessons in Efficiency.” Of course, this is a glorified lead generation tool. But it shows business sense – and that’s an attractive attribute in a virtual assistant.
Virtually There also offers a free consultation. So if you are interested in exploring the possibilities, give Sims a shout. You could be on your way to simplifying your life while increasing your profitability. The company claims it can save you thousands of dollars a year. I suppose it’s worth the sales pitch to consider whether it’s a good fit for you.
Last week, we looked at some of the results of a RingCentral survey of customers about the changing nature of how and where they work. We discovered that nearly half of employees spend 75 percent of their time doing business away from the office.
As we dig a little deeper into the survey, we find out even more evidence of the need for virtual offices. The survey concluded that only 15 percent of businesses reported having all employees work from a single physical location.
What does all this mean? The world of work is indeed undergoing a metamorphosis. We’re dealing with a rising number of distributed workers. Do you remember when virtual workers and mobile workers were field staff and freelancers? That is changing – and fast – because there are benefits.
RingCentral’s survey reveals that businesses are cutting real estate costs while improving productivity. The World Wide Web and smartphones are taking virtual offices and a distributed workforce into the mainstream. By giving employees the ability to tap into business systems from remote locations, companies can more easily employ virtual office models.
OK, last question: What is driving all of these positive changes? Well, in part, it’s the economy that’s driving the shifting office paradigm. The virtual office model reduces office rental expenses, but it also lets companies expand their talent pool beyond a limited geographic area. That means more access to the best and brightest talent.