Service virtually assured
There are many reasons for wanting to work from home, but those who prefer to do so are either young mothers who want to work and be able to look after their children, or entrepreneurs and one-man-operators who do not need an office.
'These kinds of small businesses can work from home and have a registered office address,' says Andrew Chong, managing director of OneStart Business Centre, which provides virtual office services for home businesses.
Basic services include registered business address, mail and mail forwarding, a telephone operator who can take messages or redirect calls, and e-fax.
Serviced office rooms and meeting rooms rented by the hour are also available.
Carrie Chang, who set up her public relations company, Core PR Consultancy, with three partners who are young mothers, has been using OneStart's services for four years. 'We always go to the clients' offices, so we don't need one. My colleagues also want to work from home to look after their children. But a presentable address is important. The clients trust the address,' she says. The best addresses in her profession are in Central, Admiralty and Causeway Bay, and one should choose depending on accessibility and price.
Chang says: 'Causeway Bay is easy to go to, [the office] is just above the MTR. Central is costlier and further away.'
She picks up the mail and scans in anything important to e-mail the content to her colleagues. She says this is a good way to start your own business because you can keep the overheads down, and use broadband and landlines at residential prices.
'In my mind, the office is just a computer. I work everywhere, in the library, hospital or any government building where they have Wi-fi. I also use a tablet with a 3G phone as a Wi-fi hot spot,' she says.
However, she appreciates that OneStart helped set up her business and deal with the many different papers she had to fill in. She also uses its services to do her tax return.
Chong feels OneStart's edge is in offering different services based on the professions of its three partners. Chong himself is a CPA and offers a range of accounting and company incorporation services. Another partner is from an information technology background, so the centre provides web hosting and design services.
Based on the third partner's experience, the company can also do consulting and marketing. With one office in Shenzhen and another opening in Guangzhou, OneStart is also ready to offer help for companies wanting to set up mainland subsidiaries.