• By admin
  • March 15, 2024




Virtual offices are part of the flexible workspace industry that provides businesses with any combination of services, space, and technology, without those businesses bearing the capital expenses of owning or leasing a traditional office. A virtual office can be used by entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small businesses that do not need or cannot afford a traditional office space. It can also be used by larger companies that want to establish a presence in a specific location without committing to a long-term lease. Some virtual office providers offer additional services such as meeting room rentals, administrative support, and live receptionist services. These services are usually provided remotely, but also some virtual office providers have a physical office space where clients can have access to these services. This can be an attractive option for businesses that want to project a professional image without the cost of a full-time office.

The invention of virtual offices was a result of various factors that shaped the evolution of work and technology over the decades. The concept dates back to the 1960s when the first serviced office company was created by OmniOffices Group. Serviced offices are fully furnished and equipped offices that are rented out to businesses on flexible terms. They typically include amenities such as reception, telephone answering, mail handling, internet access, and cleaning services. Serviced offices are considered to be the precursor of virtual offices, as they offer some of the same benefits of flexibility and convenience.

In 1973, Paul Fegen, founder of Fegen Law Suites (later known as Attorney Office Management, Inc.), offered his tenant an “off-site tenant program” to semi-retired lawyers and those who were in Orange County and wanted an LA County headquarters. This was possibly the earliest version of the virtual office, as it provided an address and a phone number for professionals who did not need a physical office space.

The Internet and portable computers were also crucial factors in the creation of virtual offices. They enabled different networks to communicate with each other, allowing for data transmission and online collaboration across distances. The portable computer, such as the Osborne 1 released in 1981, allowed professionals to work away from the office and remotely access their files and applications.

In 1978, Servcorp, an Australian company founded by Alf Moufarrige, started offering virtual office services that included a glorified paging service paired with an address. In the mid-1980s, Servcorp expanded its virtual office offerings to include meeting rooms and a full virtual receptionist service using Private Automatic Branch Exchange (PABX) technology — a telephone system that allows multiple extensions to share a single line.

The 1990s saw the upsurge of digital technologies that further enhanced the capabilities and appeal of virtual offices. These included; cloud storage, web hosting, email, web-based applications, video conferencing, and mobile devices. These technologies allowed businesses to store, access, and share their data and resources online without relying on physical servers or hardware. They also facilitated more effective communication and collaboration among remote workers and clients.

The 2000s witnessed the emergence of virtual office wholesaling: a business model where a company buys virtual office services from a provider and resells them to its clients. This allows for more customization and flexibility in terms of pricing and service options. Virtual office wholesaling also creates more opportunities for entrepreneurs and small businesses to access virtual office services at affordable rates.

The most recent factor in the rise of virtual offices was the forced transition to remote work during the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic accelerated the adoption of remote work as a necessity rather than a choice for many businesses and workers. It also highlighted the benefits of virtual offices as a way to reduce costs, increase productivity, improve work-life balance, and support environmental sustainability.

Virtual offices are indeed not a new phenomenon, but rather a culmination of various factors that have influenced the way we work and use technology over time. They are likely to continue to evolve and adapt to the changing needs and preferences of businesses and workers in the future. If you are looking for a quiet, well-equipped workspace in Nairobi to meet your business needs, visit OBG Virtual Office at Jadala Place, off Ngong Rd.

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