Leaner operation: Barrister offers office space on as-needed basis

This article originally appeared on PasadenaStarNews.com

By Kevin Smith

PASADENA – Most people envision an office as place that’s rented month after month and year after year, generating constant overhead costs.

But “virtual officing” allows businesses to operate leaner and meaner. And Barrister Executive Suites Inc. can make it happen.

Barrister maintains a 17,431-square-foot suite of virtual office space in Pasadena that companies can rent on an as-needed basis. The concept offers a cost effective alternative to conventional office space.

“Virtual offices are set up for businesses that need a presence within a market and access to a professional environment,” said Dorthy Bright, president of Los Angeles-based Barrister. “As far as our client base goes, it could be people who have a home-based business or maybe a company that needs a satellite office.”

Barrister’s clients represent a variety of industries, ranging from communications and entertainment media to mortgage and real estate services.

Their client list includes Disney, GTE, Bank of America, Ford Motor Credit, Coca-Cola and The Cheesecake Factory.

Barrister’s services are customized to meet each client’s needs.

The $350-a-month platinum package, for example, includes a receptionist and personalized telephone answering, access to a fully furnished private office for 12 hours each month and four hours a month of conference room use.

The package also includes a prestigious address on business cards and letterhead, access to office equipment and a lobby listing in the building’s directory (not available at all locations), among other features.

Customers can also rent meeting rooms by the hour or day.

“The beauty of this is that you have flexible lease times,” Bright said. “And if you want to go ahead and take permanent office space, you can do so.”

Gary Kaplan, who heads the Pasadena executive search firm Gary Kaplan & Associates, said the idea of virtual officing began years ago when companies began allowing employees to telecommute.

“It became sort of the vogue thing to do and then it quieted down for a while,” he said. “But I sense that it’s coming back again. It’s picked up with professional services, like consulting and accounting in particular.”

Bright said companies can save a significant amount of money by scaling back some full-time offices to virtual operations.

“It really depends on what type of office space you choose, but you can save a minimum of $2,000 a month,” she said.

Barrister’s cost comparison chart shows that the cost of leasing a conventional office of 1,500 square feet runs about $3,000 a month compared to Barrister’s 150-square-foot private, executive suite at $1,500 a month.

Employee benefits for the conventional office would cost a company about $500 a month, versus nothing for the Barrister facility.

Furniture in the conventional office space would likewise be $250 a month and office maintenance about $200 a month, compared with nothing on both counts using a Barrister virtual office space.

All told, the costs for the conventional space would total $7,050 a month, while the Barrister space would run just $1,825.

“We have 22 locations and about 500,000 square feet of space,” Bright said. “And we’re also part of an international alliance with access to thousands of executive suites internationally.”