Whether you’re a small business owner, remote worker, or digital nomad, virtual offices have become a great option for enterprises that need office facilities yet operate remotely.
Virtual mailboxes also have their benefits. Not for providing office facilities and meeting rooms, but for giving a business a presence in a location they are not actually based.
Essentially, that touches on the fundamental difference between a virtual office and a mailbox.
However, in this article, we’ll provide a deep dive into the two options. We’ll look at the pros and cons of both, and how to decide on which is the best choice for you.
So if you’re ready, let’s jump to it…
Virtual Office vs. Virtual Mailbox Services
There can often be a little confusion on the difference between a virtual office and a virtual mailbox.
While there is some cross-over between what each service will provide, there are some big differences too.
Virtual Office Services
A virtual office service provides users a physical address and office-related services so you do not have to employ full-time staff to carry out such duties, or signup for an expensive lease on office space.
A virtual office can provide phone answering in place of a receptionist, virtual assistants for administrative tasks as well as meeting rooms so that you can meet clients and colleagues/employees.
Importantly, the virtual office is also a location where you can receive, pick up, and/or forward mail. All from a professional business address rather than your home address.
Essentially, you are not renting the office space but still have access to office-related facilities.
What is a Virtual Mailbox?
The main service provided with a virtual mailbox is a business address in a location of your choosing, (assuming the service has a wide selection available), where mail can be sent.
The mail is then scanned and you can manage it all remotely, (request the service open the mail, scan the contents, shred or forward) from a device such as your phone or laptop.
(For more on the services and benefits of a virtual mailbox for business use, head here).
The Difference Between a Virtual Office and a Virtual Mailbox
From the description above the difference should be quite clear.
While both services offer a way of obtaining a business address and a place to have your mail sent to, the priority of a virtual mailbox is to give you remote access to that mail.
A virtual office on the other hand prioritizes offering office-based facilities and infrastructure, including a physical space too
So which is the best for you? One thing to bear in mind is that a monthly fee for a virtual office is far greater than that of a mailbox.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of both all the same.
Pros of the Virtual Office
The key advantage of a virtual office is that it provides amenities and less overhead when compared to renting and paying for an actual office.
For startups and small businesses that cannot afford or want the responsibility of office space, a virtual space is a great compromise.
The professional business address can be used to form your LLC, and the local phone number, call-handling/receptionist services immediately give a business a sense of legitimacy.
This is no cowboy enterprise working out of a living room in suburbia, (even though for the most part you and your employees could be working from your home office or cafe).
And if live meetups are required, there are always virtual office meeting rooms.
Furthermore, beyond the fact you are not tied to a lease, there are also no utility payments, and no I.T and equipment issues to worry about.
Cons of the Virtual Office
We’ve already mentioned it, however, there is no getting away from the fact that a virtual office does not come cheap.
Yes, you are saving lots of money over using physical office space for your business, however, do you really need one at the early stages of your business?
A mailbox can give you the much-needed business address and other features, without the same outlay.
There is also the issue of flexibility. Virtual offices offer bundle packages. You could easily end up paying for facilities that you do not use.
Furthermore, the virtual office does not provide you with a workspace. If you very rarely use the meeting rooms, the fee each month might not represent good value for money.
Pros of the Virtual Mailbox
So what are the benefits of a virtual mailbox? The main one over the virtual office is price. A mailbox gives you access to the prestigious business address and mail management services without the high fees.
You can use the address for your LLC or corporation registration, as the address for your registered agent and business-related licenses.
There are also perks such as check depositing, unlimited digital storage for your mail items, and the overall security of having your important documents handled by a reputable mailbox service.
Finally, some mailbox services cross over into the virtual office space with the services they provide.
You could add on features such as a toll-free business number or call answering/forwarding, as you need them. This is far more flexible than utilizing a virtual office.
The Cons of a Virtual Mailbox
The negatives come down to the fact you don’t have any kind of physical space as you do with a virtual office.
Fees can add up if you choose the wrong service plan for your mail quota and you are still reliant on the likes of USPS and other carriers for the delivery and shipment of your mail items.
Who should opt for a Virtual Office?
- Business owners that need a “home base” for their business locally.
- Business owners that need the services and professionalism of a real office,(i.e receptionist, printing and office equipment, virtual assistant).
- A business that needs a physical conference and meeting space.
Who should opt for a Virtual Mailbox?
- Those that need the appearance of an office without the physical space.
- Those that want to keep their business information private from the personal.
- International companies looking to have a presence in the U.S.
- Small business that operate remotely.
- Those that travel often for business.
And there you have it, a close look at the differences between a virtual office and a virtual mailbox. Whatever you go for there are a number of services available.
We recommend you read some of the reviews in our service reviews section to see which providers we rate highly in 2022.
I’m a 25 year veteran of USPS. I’m retired now, but as the editor of Mailbox Master, I can’t quite remove myself from the carrier industry just yet. 🙂