Traditional Office, Serviced Office, Virtual Office, Coworking Space - What's the Difference?

Flexible workspaces are part of the future of work. More and more companies have begun taking strides into this future by transforming our typical idea of what an office should look like. Some companies, like Google and Facebook, made offices “cool”; while some companies, taking it a step further, deconstructed and transformed not just offices, but also the way we work.

Enter “flexible workspaces” a.k.a. “nontraditional offices”. All over the world, we’ve been experiencing shifts toward these new work environments. But before we go further, perhaps it would help to go back to basics, and define first some of the fundamental terms that are associated with this global movement: traditional office, serviced office, serviced office, and coworking space—what’s the difference, anyway?


“Traditional offices” refers to offices as we have known them for a long time. They are spaces—whether a room, set of rooms, or even an entire building—usually built from scratch or are fitted out to suit the needs of a particular company. Within their walls are all the furniture, equipment, and other things needed by a business and its employees to operate. Companies who go the traditional route factor in various operating expenses such as building dues, Internet fees, and utility bills as separate items in their budget. Traditional offices are either bought or leased, and, because they were customized to begin with, are designed for use for the long haul.


On the other hand, you can think of “serviced offices” as “plug and play” versions of the traditional office. They are spaces—also of varying sizes—that are already set-up and fully equipped for business needs. Like a traditional office, they have the essential facilities and services needed for a company’s successful operation. Unlike the former, companies who avail of serviced offices get the convenience of a single bill that already includes building dues, Internet fees, and utility bills, among others. In addition, unlike traditional offices that need time to be constructed or fitted out, serviced offices are designed for immediate occupation. Companies who opt for serviced offices no longer have to wait for construction to be completed before they can move in. Serviced offices can also accommodate shorter term leases so they are more flexible, and can be cheaper in the long run.


If you or your business don’t require a physical office space, but still need the best location, technology, and support staff to maintain your professional standing, perhaps a “virtual office” is the way to go. Virtual offices allow you to protect your privacy by keeping your personal contact information private. Instead, you can use your virtual office’s permanent business address to register your business. Having a business address can likewise enhance your professional reputation. In addition, virtual offices give you the ease of centralized mail, phone, and message services, as well as other added front office and back office support. Plus, , most virtual office companies have physical workspaces that you can book and use when the need arises.


For freelancers and self-employed professionals, coworking spaces have gained quite the following in the past few years. A “coworking space” is a shared workspace, where each person is assigned a dedicated workstation or a "seat at a table" to suit his/her individual needs. Perfect for those who know that working at home or in other non-conducive environments just won’t do the job, coworking spaces can boost your creativity and productivity without you having to worry about space maintenance. But perhaps the top draw of coworking spaces is its being a melting pot of like-minded professionals. You’ll get ample opportunity for networking and collaboration!


If you already have a preferred workspace, but only need another venue for a meeting, some companies that offer shared workspaces also offer meeting rooms that may be booked and used depending on need. Whatever your working style is, no matter your budget, know that there is a work environment that would best work for you!

If you’re ready to take steps toward the future, and are looking to start with a nontraditional office for you or your company, let us know. One Asia Center offers not only serviced offices, virtual offices, coworking spaces, and meeting rooms; but also other business support that you need to ensure your success.