Virtual office packages in Singapore are a dime a dozen, from small unknown operators located in far-flung industrial estate to big-name serviced office operators in premium grade office buildings in MBFC (Marina Bay Financial Centre) area. Depending on the brand and the scope of services provided, the best virtual office packages in Singapore can range from $8 to over $150 per month.
What is a virtual office? As incorporating a company in Singapore requires a registered business address, which cannot be a residential address, new businesses who like to keep overheads down at the start often look at “renting” a business address for this purpose. A business address is the simplest form of a virtual office package, which a friend who operates from a commercial office address could very well provide the same as little or no cost. Not every one has a friend like that. Even so there may be other factors to look at which becomes essential to the success of the new business.
In this article, we share 10 considerations (in order of priority in our opinion) business owners ought to look at when choosing the best virtual office in Singapore.
Unmistakenly the number one factor for most new business startups. The most basic no-frills virtual office service is simply the renting of a business address. Most operators would notify you via email whenever there are new mails to be self-collected.
As highlighted prices can range from $8 to $150 but average at $30-40 for most mid-sized operators in town area.
The cheapest business address rental logically should be located outside of CBD (Central Business District), however these days there are decent operators who can provide this no-frills service at fractional price within the CBD.
However, business owners should take heed and look carefully at the total costs of all the add-on services eg. dedicated phone number, concierge or reception services, mail forwarding, etc. This is because many a times these services become quite necessary soon after the business takes off and no one wants to be caught in a fix where they have to change the business address.
Ease of access is also important as one should be able to travel with ease to pick up the frequent mails especially those businesses with cheques for payment. Even if the price is slightly on the high side, it is worthwhile paying for a location within walking distance or better yet sheltered to the MRT station.
Related to location is a very real and practical issue for those who drive in Singapore – availability of quick and cheap parking, ie. the “grab-and-go” type. If one prefers a business address within the CBD, then without doubt there will be more such public parking lots or street parking lots in the Tanjong Pagar precinct compared to Raffles Place or Marina Bay precinct.
In the context of virtual office, prestige is bestowed by the name of the street as well as the type of building. Certainly a “Raffles Quay” or “Robinson Road” address is more prestigious than that of an industrial area like “Kaki Bukit”. This works for most industries in general but you will not expect a food catering business to have an office in CBD of course. Remember, most clients do not visit the office (but some do, which is why meeting room facility can be an important factor, see below). For slightly incremental cost, it is wise to invest in business address that conveys a level of prestige that commensurate with the type of business or industry one is in.
4. Commitment Period
Most virtual office packages have a minimum lease period of 6 months, some may be longer. It is entirely possible to negotiate for longer or shorter term, and find out what happens when there is early termination will unused portion of the rent paid be refunded?
Virtual office operators with more flexibility in lease period and refunds will minimize the risk of over-committing for new businesses.
5. Meeting Room Facility
Even if one does not think this is necessary at first, it is always good to have virtual office operators with meeting room facilities for booking as you never know when someone important is going to request to meet in the office instead.
This could be a VIP customer, a business partner or even potential investors.
6. Other Office Solutions
As one’s business grows over time, the next step is to move into a physical office space where more serious work with all mails, phone calls, meetings, follow-ups, etc accomplished at one place. When shopping for the best virtual office package in Singapore, it is good to anticipate a few steps ahead and look beyond just virtual office services but ask if the operator also provide nice coworking seat, dedicated desk or even private room solutions at a reasonable rate.
Although most virtual office operators are also serviced office operators, there are those who are not. For example, there are many accounting firms or corporate services firms providing virtual office packages in Singapore.
Credibility of the virtual office operator helps to ensure that you can use the business address for a long time without disruption due to sudden cessation of the virtual office business. Working with a credible name also ensures that there is consistency in the quality of service delivered by a well-trained team which indirectly translates into better service experience for the customers of virtual office tenants. This can come about from phone concierge service or when customers and business partners come down for meetings.
Often overlooked by most. What all new businesses need is support. An operator who is more flexible in how it handles day-to-day operations and who is prepared to some bend some rules or policies from time to time will be a great advantage. For example, there are virtual office operators who will take notice and not return mails addressed to names of individual company directors instead of being to the company itself. Other virtual office operators may charge an additional fee for such exception treatment as all mails are supposed to be attentioned to the company itself.
9. Opportunity For Networking
Of a lesser importance are these last two considerations on networking opportunities and availability of corporate services, as strictly speaking these need not come from virtual office operators.
The big boys in the industry the likes of WeWork, Regus & Justco just to name a few, boast of a large membership base of tens or hundreds of thousands of companies where they will be able to host interesting talks and events at their premises regularly. Such networking opportunities may present business opportunities for new businesses to meet strategic partners and even acquire new customers.
10. Corporates Services Bundling
Many accounting and corporate services firms offer virtual office packages as a “bait”, in a bid to get more business for their core business of doing accounting, taxes or corporate secretarial services which may not be of the best value in the market.
There are other virtual office operators who are not in the corporate services market but who do strategic alliances or promotional tie-ups with the “best-in-class” accounting firms and corporate secretarial firms. Such referral model may actually bring more value to virtual office customers especially when there is “product-bundling” prices where there is substantial cost savings to the end-customer.
Finally, we hope this fairly objective article will set you thinking in the right direction if you are planning to sign up for a virtual office package in Singapore soon.
Though every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of our writing and analysis, we do not warrant that our research findings will be 100% true and unbiased as we are also in the business of operating a co-location office in Singapore ourselves. We stand corrected and welcome any such feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
Through our blog, we aim to summarize useful information on office rental market in Singapore and to bring you coverage on interesting developments in the industry. We also express our opinions in our writing which must not be taken as facts without validation or further checks. Our sources of information will be limied to those from the authorities, and whatever that is published in the public domain as well as insights gathered from our day-to-day marketing and operations in our business. You should not base any decision on any representations given in any of our blog articles without fully verifying the said information with the relevant parties concerned and we cannot be made liable for any losses suffered as a result.