A virtual office doesn't necessarily have to be a room in a person's home, however. A laptop in a hotel or even at the beach will do. In most cases, a person who works from a virtual office is set up thanks to his place of employment. All equipment belongs to the home office and must be returned upon termination from that company. Many virtual offices exist in Bristol and it is a good alternative for companies that do not have or cannot afford a great deal of office space.
The virtual office worker doesn't necessarily need to be a full-time employee of the company. He can also be someone who owns his own business and works from his home or on the road via laptop and wireless connection. The owner of a virtual office can also be an independent contractor or freelance worker, with no ties to one specific place of business.
There are many benefits of the virtual office, for instance, many of the overhead costs, such as electricity, are cut out or at least kept to a minimum for the company with virtual employees. Telecommuting also eliminates the prospect of crowded offices.
As an added benefit, the virtual employee may agree to a lower rate of pay as they are able to work from home, therefore they will have no travelling or lunch expenses.
Working in a virtual office cuts out an often frustrating commute. A virtual office worker can work in whatever clothing that they like, therefore eliminating the cost of a pricey business wardrobe.
Expenses such as office supplies can either be billed back to the home office or written off on his taxes. The virtual employee is able to work without the distractions of a busy office. He won't be interrupted by a co-worker's phone calls, office gossip, or a last minute meeting allowing for potentially higher levels of productivity.
There are downsides to a virtual office however as working by one's self can be lonely and many virtual employees miss the camaraderie often found in an office. There are also many distractions at home, such as the refrigerator, the telephone, the Internet, the kids, and neighbourhood affairs. It takes a disciplined person with will power to be able to work in a virtual atmosphere.
If a virtual office sounds like it would be a good idea for your business, you'd be well advised to do all the necessary research. Setting up a virtual office can be expensive since you'll need all the necessary hardware and software. It would also be a good idea to research the tax implications for both the employer and employee. In most cases, however, the benefits far outweigh the risks.