According to a blog post by Alliance Virtual Offices, virtual offices date back to the 1970s.
It wasn’t known as a ‘virtual office’ back then; the terminology came later. Yet the combination of services that constitute what we know as a ‘virtual office’ can be traced back many decades.
Specifically, in 1973, Paul Fegen’s Attorneys Office Management, Inc. (AOMI) – originally known as Fegen Suites – began offering an ‘off-site tenant program’ to law attorneys who wanted office, meeting and secretarial services, without the office.
This milestone is one of many dug up by the Alliance Virtual Offices team as part of their quest to clarify the history of the virtual office industry. This process is still ongoing, and while AOMI (today known as Barrister Executive Suites) has a justifiable claim as one of the earliest known providers of virtual office services, the story doesn’t stop there.
The team is investigating not only the history of the industry, but also its earliest pioneers. So far this fascinating journey has led them to Richard Nissen, who trademarked the term ‘the virtual office’ in London in 1992; to Marcus Moufarrige, COO of Servcorp, who offered a combination of remote services in the 1980s; and to dozens of industry movers and shakers.
Of course, the evolution of virtual offices is intrinsically tied with developments in technology, specifically telephony, portable computers, and the Internet. Journalist Chris Kern referenced the term ‘a virtual office’ in his column for the September, 1983 issue of the American Way magazine. Kern used the term to describe the possibility of ‘doing business while on the go’ thanks to portable computers, and while his term is more closely associated with technology advancements than the virtual office services we know and love, he was certainly onto something.
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