Overview of the Offices Services Sectors
There is a host of office services providers helping companies set up and manage their offices. With over 70 million registered businesses worldwide, the office services sector is highly mature and diverse. Regardless of whether an organisation owns its own office building or rents office space, the most popular types of office services are telephone answering services, contract cleaners, secretarial services, document shredding services, and business telecoms. These provide the core office infrastructure and environment for white-collar workers to do their everyday jobs in a secure, comfortable and professional office setting.
Most office services focus on servicing the physical needs of a company's infrastructure. Whereas business services could be defined as those which involve professional advice and guidance to managers and employees. For example third party accountants, solicitors, consultants, designers and brokers all provide an invaluable business service. Most new business start-ups may require a mixture of office services and business services to get going. For example, most will need the services of a solicitor to create a limited company. Following incorporation owners may need a range of general business services such as business printing services for brand new letter heads, envelopes, compliment slips and business cards. Despite the highly competitive and commoditised nature of the office services sector, most small firms still value customer service and delivery promises. Business owners hate running out of office consumables due to delivery problems.
The nature of office services has changed dramatically as the information age has enabled companies to get rid of the filing cabinets and typewriters, to instead rely on digital information and computers. Consequently, many new office service sectors have quickly sprung up to cater for companies desire to secure and exploit vital electronic business data. This may include electronic document storage and retrieval services, electronic scanning services, and copy editing services. Despite all this high-tech reliance on computing, most companies still require every day mailing services, custom letter head printing, stationery suppliers, and business card printing.
Although the old-fashioned stationery shop still survives, most office supplies up purchased online due to the commoditised nature of the generic products required. For example, printer cartridges, photocopying paper, binders and writing supplies can all be bought in bulk from a host of online suppliers. Many online wholesalers may offer discounts for bulk purchases. The office supplies market has also become highly commoditised with the introduction of price comparison websites for standardised office products and services. Owners of start-ups should be wary of signing up to any long term contractual agreements without checking the small print. If business circumstances change and an early termination of a service is required, check for any termination charges or penalties for late payments of invoices.
As the cost of commercial rents has risen in urban centres, many companies have allowed their workers to work from home, or work more flexibly out in the field. To help this process many larger organisations save money by using virtual offices (consisting of freephone telephone numbers, answering services, meeting rooms and business centre facilities). To help facilitate international trade, many larger international companies rely on specialist office service providers. For example, a translation service or facilities management service are useful to help setup an overseas satellite office, or overcome language barriers and local bureaucracy.