Why does the majority of Irish people not know what a virtual office is?

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Alan Clerkin

Alan Clerkin

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Puzzled red haired young Caucasian man touching chin with pen and holding folder. Metaphor for freelancer or young professional with his portfolio. Business and challenge concept

I have been in the business the past 10 years and still get frustrated when people ask what I work at. When I mention I’m in the virtual office business, 80% of the time I get the same bemused look, followed by a pause and then the same question “What is a virtual office?”. When I explain to them what a virtual office entails, they are genuinely impressed and say “wow, that’s a great idea”, followed usually by “I have a friend/wife/husband who could really use that service”.

This only seems to be in Ireland. When I state what I do in the US or the UK, most people know what a virtual office is.

So why is this the case? Personally, the main reason, is that the industry in Ireland is relatively young. When Dublin Mail Drop started over 10 years ago, we were one of the first to have a functional website along with online ordering. We had some competitors who had a one page website or no website whatsoever.

Another reason is that most of the current providers in the industry are small to medium businesses and don’t have budgets for a prolonged tv/radio advertising campaign.

In 2018, I would consider the virtual office industry in Ireland, as a niche business, but has great potential to become a household name.
Consider some small businesses are using their home address as their business address, which mightn’t give a professional image, whereas they could have a prestigious central Dublin address, employing virtual office services. What’s even worse, some online businesses don’t have a listed business address on their website.

Mail that arrives for client’s is usually forwarded daily/weekly and some providers offer a scan to email service, in that the clients mail would be opened, scanned and emailed to them.

Other business owners have mobile phone numbers listed as their contact number, instead of getting a dedicated landline phone number with a virtual office provider, which can be answered professionally in their company name. There are no landline rental fees with such services, as you would incur with major phone providers.

Additionally, lots of business owners meet potential clients in coffee shops, whereas they could hire a meeting room facility via their virtual office providers and have a less noisy meeting.

The virtual office is a one stop shop, where a small business can use one or more of the services provided. The business owner may have a landline phone number already, but would like to change their business address from their home in Firhouse to an office in Baggot Street. Now, don’t get me wrong, Firhouse is a good area, but having a Baggot Street business address portrays a more professional business image.

The difference between a physical office and a virtual office, is that you don’t have a full time physical presence at the virtual office, unless you are using our office or meeting room facilities. Most virtual office clients conduct their business from home or on the go.

Virtual Office providers are regulated by the Department of Justice under The Criminal Justice (Money Laundering & Terrorist Financing) Act 2010. We are obliged under this Act, like banks and estate agents, to verify the identity of both you and your business upon signing up.

Considering the cost savings of a virtual office compared to a physical office and considering the professional image it offers to a small business, it’s only a matter of time before the ‘virtual office’ becomes a household name.