Virtual office providers may present many options but attorneys need very specific attributes in order to succeed.
So what is a virtual office?
A virtual office rental arrangement is a financial arrangement where solo and small firm attorneys pay a low monthly fee (typically starting at under $149 month) to rent the use of a premium commercial address in an executive office suite and the non-exclusive use of office space and amenities, such as conference room facilities, a staffed reception area and access to law firm grade telecommunications and office equipment.
Where can these virtual offices be found?
Executive office centers are the most typical location one can find virtual office arrangements. These centers are often abundant in major cities around the country.
A virtual office is typically conducive to a package arrangement and is much cheaper than a traditional office rental. A virtual arrangement has basic level amenities such as the use of the commercial mailing address and collecting and forwarding of incoming mail. Conference room and day office usage can alos be worked into an agreement but this varies from center to center.
The centers are generally professionally operated and well-appointed. Take time to find a space that best suits your needs.
Typical needs for lawyers when considering a virtual office arrangement:
Physical office arrangements vary from city to city, but most virtual office packages are consistently priced across the nation. $100 a month is the typical starting point and can vary with costs of extra service (i.e. conference room and day office time).
Price in amenities for things such as conference rooms can be anywhere from $10 an hour to over $200 an hour. The higher end is typical of large metropolitan areas like New York or Los Angeles. Local market typically dictates the pricing for these services.
The location of your virtual office matters and taking into account your travel patterns and the travel patterns of your clients should be part of your decision. A center close to an airport may bode well, especially if a lot of your clients travel to meet with you or you travel to them. Transportation systems and the hot spots will also help one to better choose a location.
Adequate amenities are space are crucial when it comes to meeting clients. Conference room time is typical, yet some centers often don’t provide this feature or make it incredibly hard to get conference room time.
Pricing for time can also vary on the size of the room. Looking elsewhere may be best especially if these centers only have one or two options for conference rooms.
4. Onsite staff.
When you inquire about renting a virtual office, be sure to assess the staff’s attentiveness and competence regarding any questions you may have.
The center’s staff will essentially be taking care of your clients as so you need to be sure that the staff is providing the best experience possible for your clientele.
They must be competent in servicing client needs and epitomize professionalism at all time.
It is important to cover your behind, so always make sure there is adequate staffing during regular business hours. Some centers have very poor reception patterns. The front desk may be left unattended for long periods of time which does not look good for you when a client is coming in to meet you. Even worse, the front desk may be occupied by someone who is just wildly incompetent.
5. Environment and Business Culture.
Business culture is necessary to understand and each office center has a particular working environment dictated by the center’s clientele. Law Firm Suites caters to attorneys, therefore, it feels like a fully functioning law office. With office centers that have closed doors and a subdued and professional vibe, it leads to the feeling of productivity.
On the other hand, our colleagues at Sunshine Suites, another executive office center in downtown Manhattan, rent virtual offices and office space to start-up companies, mostly in technology. They rent open air, modular spaces that give their clients’ rapidly changing businesses the flexibility to easily grow and contract as needed. Without closed workspaces, there’s a noisy buzz in Sunshine Suites’ center that their core clientele finds inspiring and motivating.
Lawyers have a different business culture as opposed to a tech start-up or financial services firm. A shared law office space may be “boring” to a tech professional and the lack of privacy may turn off an attorney as their work requires a lot of confidentiality.
Your clients and colleagues have an expectation about what your office space will be like. They expect that they will be meeting you in a law office. Make sure the office center where you are renting your meeting space is consistent with your clients’ expectations. An office center with a high percentage of attorneys (or one that is exclusive to attorneys) is your best bet.