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      Is home working here to stay?

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      As small businesses quickly tighten their belts and plan for a very different future, the demand for Virtual Office Addresses has spiked, demonstrating that home working might be here to stay for longer than the current crisis.

      A ‘Virtual Office Address’ is where a business rents an address at an established, often prime location. They are not physically located in an office space but use the address for mail forwarding and meeting space if required.

      “We’ve seen a massive increase in small businesses with existing office space (of one or two people) request pricing for virtual office addresses this week. They are working from home, enjoying it, and want to continue after the crisis is over,” revealed Jonathan Ratcliffe from flexible office provider Offices.co.uk.

      There are around 3,000 or more serviced offices in the UK, most of these offer some sort of virtual address service. Businesses tend to stick to monthly plans to keep using an address once it is used across websites, directories and marketing materials.

      “Often the most popular addresses are in amazing locations – you could use One Canada Square, The Gherkin or The Shard as your office address if you really wanted”, added Ratcliffe.

      The benefits of home working have been discussed in detail over the past month, some good and some bad. However, in a period of uncertainty for very small businesses the trend is to shut down all unnecessary spending and it looks like some of the more extravagant office spaces are currently taking a real hit.

      “I think that the one or two desk offices in City Centres that were like hen’s teeth only six weeks ago, will become vacant in the short term, with home working becoming the norm medium term. However, people still want to portray a professional image, hence the demand in virtual downsizing”, added Ratcliffe, who claims that a virtual office address has several benefits:

      STAY PROFESSIONAL: You can keep up the corporate image, even if you are working from your back bedroom.

      FACILITIES ON DEMAND: If you need a meeting room, simple book and meet clients in the building as you need to.

      PRICING: In Cambridge at Cambourne Business Park, for example, a 1 desk office starts around £269 + VAT per month – a virtual address is £69 + VAT per month

      “I’m hopeful for everyone in the flexible office space industry that after this period of turbulence, things come back round because co-working offers so much for those looking for creative social interaction at the workplace – it’s simply something home working can’t ever offer”, concluded Ratcliffe.

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      Lisa Carter

      All stories by: Lisa Carter