‘Virtual offices’ on the rise

WEST SUSSEX businesses are increasingly working from ‘virtual offices’, according to the world’s largest workspace provider.

Regus has reported a 24% increase in demand for virtual office services in the last 12 months at its business centre in Pegler Way, Crawley and a 78% increase at the centre in Worthing Road, Horsham.

Virtual offices allow businesses to project an impressive image to clients and customers without the expense of leasing professional workspace or hiring their own administrative staff.

Services include a business address to use on company stationery, a dedicated local phone number and receptionist to answer calls, mail collection and handling, and access to private offices or meeting rooms.

Some use their virtual office as a permanent arrangement while others use it as a staging post before they expand to a physical presence.

The particularly marked increase in virtual office customers in Crawley and Horsham suggests that small businesses in the area are finding new ways of propelling their businesses forward in the face of continuing economic difficulty.

Oliver Bebb Solicitors is a law firm based in Horsham.

Cory Bebb runs the company and explained, “As a small business, I outsource everything and have a light structure, so I had no desire to take on a traditional leased office.

“I set up the business five years ago and started as a virtual office customer.

“This gave us an address in Crawley, the post was collected and we occasionally also used the meeting rooms, while I worked from home.

“Then in August 2010, Regus opened a centre in Horsham, which is where I live, and that prompted me to take a permanent office. It’s convenient and I also needed a change of scenery from working at home.

“The kitchen and general office is cleaned every day; you don’t have to worry about anything like that.”

Celia Donne, Regus regional director, said: “With the economy still weak, local small businesses are acutely aware of the need to control spending.

“Virtual offices offer home businesses, start-ups and companies entering the UK market the benefits of a staffed office – such as a professional business address, and a professional receptionist to answer the phone – without the expense, risk and management time of setting up a physical presence.”