Experience with virtual offices
Thread poster: Rebecca Hendry

Rebecca Hendry  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:28
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jul 8, 2016

Dear fellow UK-based freelancers,

I am looking into the possibility of using a virtual office service and wondered if any Proz members have any experience or tips.

I currently use my home address as my business address on all invoices, certified translations, and so on. However, I moved house a couple of years ago and will be doing so again soon. I'd like to avoid the hassle of changing my business stationery every time I move, and have a more permanent 'office' address for this purpose.

Does anyone have any experience with a reputable company they would be able to recommend? I am based in London and would like a London address. Are there any implications/downsides of using such a service that I should be aware of? I've done a lot of reading on other business forums and it seems many sole traders working in lots of different sectors like to use a service like this to avoid giving out their home address to clients.

All tips gratefully received!

Becky.


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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 04:28
English to Russian
+ ...
Stationery??! Jul 8, 2016

Why trouble yourself with ordering preprinted stationery when you can buy a new colour laser printer for as little as £50 and produce it on the fly?

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Rebecca Hendry  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:28
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes, stationery Jul 8, 2016

Dear Anton,

Thanks for your comment. I use professionally printed headed paper for certified translations. It's not a huge expense and I think it's worth it for the quality.

Even if this weren't the case, I'd still be looking for a virtual office solution so that I can have a more permanent business address.

Best wishes,

Rebecca.


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finnword1
United States
Local time: 22:28
English to Finnish
+ ...
UPS, maybe? Jul 8, 2016

Here in Miami we have a UPS store in an elegant skyscraper in the heart of the city, where you can rent a "suite" (a.k.a. P.O. Box) for about $25.00 per month. Perhaps you can find something similar in the UK.

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Paulette Romero  Identity Verified
Colombia
Local time: 22:28
English to Spanish
+ ...
Why not... Jul 8, 2016

Why not simply continue using your pre-printed letterhead until you exhaust your supply and then order a new one. It's just an address. I used to work in a law firm and we constantly had new attorneys coming in and of course all attorneys names are printed on the letterhead, but under no circumstances was old letterhead thrown own simply because an attorney left or a new one came in. All old letterhead was used up first and then new letterhead ordered with the updated information. There's no reason why you can't do the same.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:28
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Collecting post? Jul 8, 2016

Rebecca Hendry wrote:
Are there any implications/downsides of using such a service that I should be aware of? I've done a lot of reading on other business forums and it seems many sole traders working in lots of different sectors like to use a service like this to avoid giving out their home address to clients.

I don't know if you get much business stuff through the post. I don't, but when I do it's normally very important - from my accountant, the tax authorities, pensions administrators, the government... and it would also include any registered letters with complaints or summonses etc. Not the sort of thing you want to miss or ignore. Perhaps you also have individuals delivering those certificates by hand?

How about the expenses of using your home as an office? I set all my phone and Internet costs against my tax bill, along with a little of the electricity etc. I don't think I could do that if they weren't at the same address as the business.

But I can certainly see some advantages too.

@Paulette: using an address on headed stationery that isn't actually your business address? Would that apply on invoices too? Surely it HAS to be the registered business address, not just any old one. At least, I hope that applies to my clients as that's where I would be wanting to sue them if they don't pay!


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Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 21:28
German to English
+ ...
only one experience with virtual offices Jul 8, 2016

I first heard of virtual offices in the context of trustworthiness of translation agencies. A rule of thumb is to make certain that somebody contacting you has an actual verifiable address. Some translators will also be cautious of the person contacting them hails from places like India. Then at some point I learned in a forum that when you check out the address of a potential client, it may not at all reflect his actual location even if the address is a true existing address. I learned that a person can even pay to have a phone number in New York answered, with the company name, while the client's actual location is Mexico or India. As a consequence, the idea of virtual office has a negative connotation to me, especially in regards to trust and transparency. Why have an address listed at all if your clients aren't going to go there, and it's not where you actually are?

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Rebecca Hendry  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:28
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not just about stationery... Jul 8, 2016

Paulette Romero wrote:

Why not simply continue using your pre-printed letterhead until you exhaust your supply and then order a new one. It's just an address. I used to work in a law firm and we constantly had new attorneys coming in and of course all attorneys names are printed on the letterhead, but under no circumstances was old letterhead thrown own simply because an attorney left or a new one came in. All old letterhead was used up first and then new letterhead ordered with the updated information. There's no reason why you can't do the same.


Hi Paulette,

Thanks for your reply.

Perhaps my original post wasn't entirely clear. The letterheads aren't the only reason why I am considering this. I would prefer not to give out my home address to clients and it would certainly be easier not to have to change it (and update all clients) every time I move house.


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Rebecca Hendry  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:28
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Expenses Jul 8, 2016

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Rebecca Hendry wrote:
Are there any implications/downsides of using such a service that I should be aware of? I've done a lot of reading on other business forums and it seems many sole traders working in lots of different sectors like to use a service like this to avoid giving out their home address to clients.

I don't know if you get much business stuff through the post. I don't, but when I do it's normally very important - from my accountant, the tax authorities, pensions administrators, the government... and it would also include any registered letters with complaints or summonses etc. Not the sort of thing you want to miss or ignore. Perhaps you also have individuals delivering those certificates by hand?

How about the expenses of using your home as an office? I set all my phone and Internet costs against my tax bill, along with a little of the electricity etc. I don't think I could do that if they weren't at the same address as the business.

But I can certainly see some advantages too.

@Paulette: using an address on headed stationery that isn't actually your business address? Would that apply on invoices too? Surely it HAS to be the registered business address, not just any old one. At least, I hope that applies to my clients as that's where I would be wanting to sue them if they don't pay!


Hi Sheila,

Thanks for your reply. Most of the virtual office services I've seen online offer a post forwarding service as part of the deal, so that wouldn't be a problem. I rarely get business-related post, and it seems that HMRC are happy to use your home address for correspondence even if you provide a different address for the business.

I do quite a lot of certified translations, and have to provide my address on the covering letter. I'd rather not give out my home address for privacy reasons, and I also think that my home address can look a little unprofessional (because I live in a flat, and that's quite obvious given the address format).

Your point about working from home expenses is a good one. I think I read somewhere that this wasn't an issue but I'll certainly check before I go ahead, if I do.

Best wishes,

Rebecca.


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philgoddard
United States
German to English
+ ...
Why do you need a physical address at all? Jul 8, 2016

You presumably correspond and send your invoices by email, and receive payments direct into your bank account (not like here in the US, where people still use checks). If you do need to issue paper documents such as certifications, it's a matter of moments to update the address.

I don't think people care where you live. Paying for a virtual office doesn't seem like the best use of your money.


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Rebecca Hendry  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:28
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Certified translation requirements Jul 8, 2016

philgoddard wrote:

You presumably correspond and send your invoices by email, and receive payments direct into your bank account (not like here in the US, where people still use checks). If you do need to issue paper documents such as certifications, it's a matter of moments to update the address.

I don't think people care where you live. Paying for a virtual office doesn't seem like the best use of your money.


Hi Phil,

Thanks for your reply. I do a lot of certified translations, and my understanding has always been that the translator's address has to be provided. Perhaps this is not correct and all I need to provide is my phone number/website/email address. Can anyone advise?

Best wishes,

Rebecca.


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Paulette Romero  Identity Verified
Colombia
Local time: 22:28
English to Spanish
+ ...
PO Box? Jul 8, 2016

Rebecca Hendry wrote:

Paulette Romero wrote:

Why not simply continue using your pre-printed letterhead until you exhaust your supply and then order a new one. It's just an address. I used to work in a law firm and we constantly had new attorneys coming in and of course all attorneys names are printed on the letterhead, but under no circumstances was old letterhead thrown own simply because an attorney left or a new one came in. All old letterhead was used up first and then new letterhead ordered with the updated information. There's no reason why you can't do the same.


Hi Paulette,

Thanks for your reply.

Perhaps my original post wasn't entirely clear. The letterheads aren't the only reason why I am considering this. I would prefer not to give out my home address to clients and it would certainly be easier not to have to change it (and update all clients) every time I move house.



In that case, I don't see a problem. A lot of people use virtual offices and I believe many of them have services where they also collect your mail, at least in the United States this service exists. In the alternative, have you considered a Post Office Box? Post Office Boxes are very commonly used by freelancers in the US who don't want to give their home address. It would probably be less expensive than a virtual office.

[Edited at 2016-07-08 16:32 GMT]


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Kelly Neudorfer  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:28
German to English
Check regulations Jul 8, 2016

Rebecca Hendry wrote:

philgoddard wrote:

You presumably correspond and send your invoices by email, and receive payments direct into your bank account (not like here in the US, where people still use checks). If you do need to issue paper documents such as certifications, it's a matter of moments to update the address.

I don't think people care where you live. Paying for a virtual office doesn't seem like the best use of your money.


Hi Phil,

Thanks for your reply. I do a lot of certified translations, and my understanding has always been that the translator's address has to be provided. Perhaps this is not correct and all I need to provide is my phone number/website/email address. Can anyone advise?

Best wishes,

Rebecca.


You'll need to check with the regulations in the country where you live to see whether that's allowed. In Germany you have to include your address and the address of the recipient when sending an invoice. I also feel uncomfortable including my home address, but I haven't come up with a better solution, so I'm following this thread to see if anyone has any good alternatives!


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