Virtual Receptionist or Virtual Office? What’s The Difference?

Many of us have come to prefer a hybrid work model which combines work-from-home (WFH) with time in the office for the ultimate flexible work schedule. Flexible office services such as virtual office plans could be a solution for the flexibility we all seek during the work week, but what is a virtual office and is it the same as virtual receptionist services? Keep reading and you’ll find out!

What is a Virtual Office and how does it work?

Don’t let the word ‘virtual’ throw you.  A virtual office doesn’t mean your office only exists in cyberspace, a virtual office is a ‘real office.’  Essentially, it’s a service that gives you access to a physical office infrastructure on a part-time basis, when you need it. Typically, a virtual office plan includes products such as mail collection and business address services, live answering services, or access to private guest offices and meeting rooms at a flexible office location near home or wherever makes sense for the type of work you do (i.e. if you want a space to meet with colleagues or clients then perhaps you choose a space that’s centrally located or near public transportation, etc).

Mail services are a huge component of virtual office plans.  If you’re a startup or freelancer, a home office business address simply doesn’t cut it.  You need a professional and ‘real’ business address on your marketing collateral, business cards, and website.  Additionally, the flexible office operator managing your plan will receive mail on your behalf, hold it for pick-up, or forward the mail to you according to your directions, saving you the time and headache of managing this yourself.

Corporate users may not need a professional business address for marketing purposes, but if you’re primarily working from home, you could find value in a digital mail service.  Virtual mailbox plans include notification of mail received usually through an app and/or email/text.  Then, you can communicate to your virtual mailbox provider whether they should forward, scan, or shred your mail.  This is a great way to manage your business mail productively on days that you WFH.

Managing business calls while you WFH

Virtual receptionist or live answering services are a component within a Virtual Office Plan. Many flexible office space providers partner with phone answering providers to offer this service. There are also providers that focus solely on phone answering services. CloudAnswering does both. For instance, we provide live answering services to coworking and flexible office space operators as well as to individual users and businesses. A phone answering service allows you to stay connected from anywhere and is a key productivity tool you should consider for your remote/WFH routine.

Utilizing a local phone number as your business line not only protects your personal cell phone number, but most importantly, you’ll never miss a call.  Additionally, having a live person screen and announcing your calls gives you a heads-up in knowing exactly what the call is about, so you can decide whether to take the call or ask for the caller to be put into voicemail.  You may not think you need it at first, but professional answering services not only serves as an important productivity tool, but also strengthens the credibility of your brand.

Managing Business Calls while you work from home | CloudAnswering

If all I need is an answering service, is it worth it?

If you don’t need all the bells and whistles of a Virtual Office Plan, you should definitely consider live answering services as an investment in your business. Yes, adopting an answering service is absolutely worth the investment and here’s why:

  • People still use the phone: With all the technology we have available to us today, people still use the phone to try and reach you, but what if you’re in a meeting or busy? Do you let that call go to voicemail? This could mean the loss of potential new business, or could lead to existing clients and customers feeling frustrated and unheard. Always having a friendly voice to answer the phone goes a long way towards your brand’s reputation.
  • Significant cost savings: There are a lot of answering services out there and some are reasonably priced. We like to think that we provide the best value in the market since our focus is on live answering for business professionals. Our service is a great fit for attorneys, consultants, freelancers, and small businesses. We don’t support medical offices or users looking for bilingual services which allows us to be very efficient and offer you the best prices around. Learn more about how we compare to other providers here.
  • You can focus on what you do best – building your business: Answering your phone calls is critical, but it does impact your productivity. As a business owner, you simply don’t have the time to do it all. As an extension of your team, a good live answering service provider will get to know your business in order to ensure a great first impression to your callers. From answering your business line with a friendly human voice to screening and announcing your calls, we can help you maximize productivity at an awesome value.

Check out our business answering plans to see how you can get started, If you’re interested in a Virtual Office solution, we highly recommend our sister company Pacific Workplaces.