Many options for an NYC virtual office exist, but are you getting what you need to succeed as a solo attorney?
The basics of 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 one find a virtual office?
The most common places virtual office arrangements can be found is an executive office center. These centers can be found almost anywhere, but are most abundant in large metropolitan areas.
Virtual rental agreements typically come as a package deal without the huge overhead costs a physical office rental is associated with. You are provided with basic amenities like a commercial mailing address and mail services. In addition to that, other amenities like conference room hours or even use of a day office can be negotiated but this is dependant on the center.
The centers are generally professionally operated and well-appointed. Take time to find a space that best suits your needs.
What a lawyer needs to keep in mind when occupying a virtual office:
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.
Location is more important than one may think. An attorney needs to understand their own travel patterns and their clients’ travel patterns to make an informed decision on where to designate his or her virtual office.
If a lot of clients travel to you by plane, a virtual office center near an airport might bode well. Maintaining an awareness of transportation systems will also help one better choose a location.
Having the right amenities works in your favor when meeting clients. One common amenity utilized by attorneys is conference room hours, especially for virtual office tenants.
Conference room time rates vary for each center. These rates can even vary on the size of the room. A center very few conference rooms may not be the best fit for you, especially if you are someone with a heavy need for conference room hours.
4. Onsite staff.
Executive office centers typically have their own staff to manage the daily operations. It is important, whether you have an in-office or virtual office arrangement to make sure the staff has the competence to handle your questions and needs.
You have to think in terms of how the staff will be taking care of your needs, because they will essentially be doing that. The staff needs to provide the best experience possible in order for you to practice most efficiently.
Professionalism is key and that is what potential tenants need to keep in mind for virtual offices.
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 has a high impact on choosing a shared office space because the work environment can mean success or failure of an attorney. Law Firm Suites caters to the lawyer culture. This means that the center feels like a law office. Productivity is promoted when there are closed doors and a professional vibe.
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.
The business culture of lawyers is much different than any other business culture. Something like a tech start-up or even a fashion marketing agency operate differently compared to a law firm which may register as “boring” to other business cultures.
The lack of privacy may be a turn off in some shared spaces for lawyers where other types of businesses may think nothing of it.
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.