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Virtual Offices: Working in the Digital Age

Virtual offices have evolved since first being coined in 1970. Today, however, they're much more than 4 walls. Discover how a virtual office might be the right fit for your business.

When you think about it, the “virtual office” has been around for as long ago as 1970. In fact, over these past few decades they’ve grown in popularity and now serve an important role within our society – especially when technology like Zoom, Skype or Google Hangouts come into play!

The flexibility of a virtual office is essential for any business that needs to be agile. From scaling up or back, establishing presence in new cities – the solution can adapt with your changing demands!

But before we take a tour through the evolution of virtual offices we’ll endeavor to answer the following question:

What is a virtual office and how does it work?

Simply put, a virtual office space is a flexible office solution that provides the ‘occupier’ (now increasingly referred to as ‘member’) with the services they require on an as-needed basis.

Despite the term “virtual”, the plethora of services provided contains both digital and physical options. At its most basic level, you get a business/ mailing address and telephone number. Additional office benefits and services include:

  • Access to bookable conference rooms and facilities
  • Access to hot desks on a first come first served basis
  • Online phone system and Live Receptionist support
  • Use of cloud platforms, messaging services and apps

What makes the virtual office option so appealing is its flexibility. You only pay for what you need and compared with a traditional office they are a lot less expensive.

Virtual Offices tend to appeal to small businesses in particular – solopreneurs and lean startups who work remotely and therefore just don’t need a full-time office space.


It’s a long story, so we’ll try our best to keep it brief!

With the rise of technology, working from home has become a reality for more and more people. But what does this mean? In short: it’s complicated! The virtual office is only one part (or perhaps less) in an ever-growing flexible workspace family with “serviced offices” as their parent – these provide you permanent space but usually flexibility on par or greater than that found within servicing itself; compare these two options when deciding where best suited your needs may lie.

The first serviced office can be traced back to 1966 when Paul Fegen founded Fegen Lawsuites. He rented out excess office space that his fellow lawyers didn’t need to different professionals and included some of the same services we associate with virtual offices today: telephone answering, photocopying and access to conference rooms.

But it wasn’t until 1982 that the term “virtual office” was used in the media by John Markoff, who wrote in Info World Magazine:

“In the future virtual office, workers will no longer be constrained by computer equipment or geographic location…they will be free to travel or to interact with others while communicating information freely.”

This came at a time when advancements in technology were starting to change the way people worked. Fast forward to the digital revolution of the 21st Century and businesses are more agile than ever, with many operating remotely.

Perhaps this explains why a simple web search brings up thousands of virtual office options in every continent.


Today, a virtual office is universally defined as a flexible workspace solution that, as mentioned above, provides services and facilities on an as-need basis.

When you sign up for one, you’ll be provided with a business address, mail handling support and a phone number, but the rest depends on what you need and when you need it.

Imagine you’re a small business and you’re looking to grow your client base. You’re based at home, but putting your residential address on your website doesn’t look professional.

Also, you want to start building business credit and need to ensure your personal assets are protected. So you opt for a virtual office address.

Fast forward a few months and you’re accumulating clients at speed. However, meeting them at the local coffee shop is proving a little awkward. So, you decide to book a meeting room at your virtual office for the morning and hot desk there in the afternoon.

With the leads rolling in, you decide to throw a Live Receptionist into the mix. This professional is tasked with answering your calls, managing your calendar and making sure no inquiry goes unanswered. And just so you know, it's not the same as a co-working space.


Technology has transformed the way we work, as well as what it means to be an employee. The new digitally-enabled workforce is anything but traditional in its approach and quest for efficiency – they’re agile enough that you would think twice before even getting them coffee!

Let’s take a look at a few influential technologies:


Forwarding your mail to you has never been easier! With Digital Mail, all that’s required of the sender is a scan and app on their phone. You can view images immediately or save them for later review – plus there are no more lost letters that lead to delaying delivery like before because they were hand-delivered by someone else who wasn’t aware what was inside.


Videoconferencing technology is becoming increasingly sophisticated. Now, remote workers can communicate across browsers with no plug-ins or applications required, making physical space unnecessary and virtual offices a more attractive alternative.


Good question. Of course we can’t predict the exact effect technology will have but can hazard a pretty good guess. VR and AR are both set to change the landscape of the workplace, and as the gig economy grows, traditional ways of working will fall by the wayside.

We think that as technology continues to evolve, remote working and therefore virtual offices will become more popular.

What will the next iteration of the virtual office be? Perhaps we’ll see it transformed into something different by emerging technologies like virtual reality; or maybe it will serve to connect people and provide remote workers with access to a community. Or both.

Choose between the 3 office types we offer, namely:

Here's a quick guide to help you choose between the three office types of offices we offer.

Virtual Office

  • Rental starts from R 2000 per month
  • Access to lockable focus rooms and all communal workstations
  • Service options:
  • Business telephone number
  • Message-taking and/or calls diverted to cellphone at a nominal fee

Shared Office

  • Rental starts from R 3000 per month
  • Access to a lockable shared office with other business owners (subject to availability)
  • Service options:
  • Business telephone number and a phone device assigned to your workstation
  • Message-taking and/or calls diverted to cellphone at a nominal fee

Exclusive Office

  • Rental starts from R 5000 per month
  • Office sizes start from a 6-square-metre single office up to 96-square- metres (subject to availability)
  • Standard offer:
  • Business telephone number with phone devices assigned to desired workstations
  • Message-taking and/or calls diverted to cellphone at a nominal fee