Remote Work

Coworking space vs. virtual mailbox: Which is best for businesses?

June 13, 2024
Minh Mai

Entrepreneurs, startups, and early-stage businesses have to make all sorts of decisions on how to set up and run their businesses. Deciding where to do the work is one of them.

It used to be straightforward: To launch a business, you rent some office space, hang up your sign, and get to work.

But what if you don’t have or need full-time traditional office space?

Many businesses with no formal office still need a business address for legal, mail, and banking purposes. They may also need real-world meeting and collaboration spaces or flexible workspaces on occasion.

Coworking spaces and virtual mailboxes are two innovations that support businesses like these. Here’s what you need to know about each one.

What is a coworking space?

A coworking space is a shared office space where individual business owners, freelancers, and small businesses can rent access to common spaces, open seating, and conference rooms. Many coworking spaces also offer dedicated desks, and some even offer private offices. 

This flexible workspace approach continues to grow in popularity, with over 6,500 coworking space locations in the U.S. in 2024 — up 6% over the previous year.

Coworking spaces provide many of the perks and amenities of a traditional office building, like lobby seating, a kitchen, meeting rooms, huddle spaces, high-speed internet, and so forth. But they tend to be more affordable since the cost of those shared amenities is spread out across numerous members.

Coworking spaces are often located in business hubs, putting users in close proximity to where business is happening in their cities. Members also enjoy a certain level of camaraderie and networking opportunities with their fellow coworkers, though the quality and quantity can vary based on who else is a part of the space.

Also worth noting: Some coworking spaces provide receptionist, phone, and mail services, but many do not.

Pros and cons of coworking spaces

Many solopreneurs, startups, and micro businesses enjoy the coworking space approach. So do some remote workers who may not have a suitable workspace at home (or simply prefer a level of in-person social interaction over home-office isolation).

But there are drawbacks as well. Costs are growing as the industry matures (dedicated desks run $400-500/month apiece in several major metro areas, and premium coworking environments run higher still, even in smaller markets). 


  • Provides a professional physical space for work, networking, and meeting clients
  • Allows small teams to collaborate in person without full office rent rates
  • Encourages a healthy work-life balance by physically separating home and work


  • Major variability in costs and quality
  • Only works if you live close enough to the space
  • Expenses add up quickly if you have more than a few employees

What is a virtual mailbox?

A virtual mailbox is a service for managing your physical mail online. This service provides a real physical address (typically in a business district) where your business can receive mail. The service provider then takes care of mail handling — scanning and processing that mail before making it available to you in an online dashboard.

It doesn’t come with office space, meeting rooms, a dedicated desk, or a coffee machine. But a virtual address and mailbox service does provide a level of business prestige, as well as a convenient way to manage your physical mail from just about anywhere.

Here’s how a virtual mailbox works:

  • Choose a virtual mailbox provider.
  • Sign up and select an address.
  • Fill out USPS Form 1583 (some providers, like Stable, help with this).
  • Start using your new virtual address for correspondence and promotion.
  • Interact with your mail digitally, selecting which pieces to open and scan, which to shred, and which to forward to your actual address.

Pros and cons of virtual mailboxes

Virtual mailboxes also present benefits and drawbacks, which largely depend on your use case and the nature of your business. 


  • Gives ultimate flexibility so you can work (and access your mail) from anywhere
  • Provides business clout in the form of an address that looks and sounds like a business address 
  • Reduces time spent physically processing mail


  • Digital access is highly convenient but relies on internet access
  • Doesn’t provide any office space, meeting rooms, or other physical amenities
  • Slightly delays the receipt of any mail you need physical access to

An overview of coworking spaces vs. virtual mailboxes

Coworking spaces and virtual mailboxes are markedly different services, so let’s take a look at their similarities and differences.


Cost is a big differentiator. Even in the most affordable metros, prices for an open workspace (the term for “sit anywhere that’s open, but don’t leave your stuff overnight”) usually start at around $100 per person per month. If you want a dedicated desk, you’re looking at a $200 minimum apiece — but probably much more.

Virtual mailboxes don’t have to pay for all that prime office space, so it makes sense that the service is a lot cheaper. Most providers range from $50 to $100 per month, once you calculate usage fees. But that’s total, not per person.

So unless you need the physical desk space, you’re almost certain to find a virtual mailbox is the more cost-effective solution. This is especially true for small businesses and startups that would need more than a single seat in the coworking space.

Access and flexibility

Coworking spaces provide access to spaces reserved for work, and members have a degree of flexibility in how and when they work. Still, all of that access and flexibility requires physically going to your coworking space. 

Virtual mailboxes offer greater flexibility since you can access them from anywhere with an internet connection. But the access they provide is different. 

While you gain access to digitized mail and other services (such as check depositing, registered agent services, and package consolidation), you won’t have access to a physical space.

Professional image

Both options can enhance your professional image, but they go about it in different ways.

Working out of a coworking space can demonstrate a greater level of seriousness or commitment to your business than working from, say, your dining room table. A coworking space may also provide a professional meeting space where you can work with clients, often in your city’s downtown or business district.

However, many coworking spaces don’t allow members to use the space as a business address, which can hurt your professional image. (And you may end up needing a virtual mailbox anyway, in addition to your coworking membership).

Virtual mailboxes provide a professional business address, enhancing credibility. If you don’t need a physical office space or a place to meet clients, the address alone may meet your requirements. 

However, if you have clients who are likely to check you out in the real world or attempt to swing by your office, a virtual address alone may create confusion.

Security and privacy

Security at a coworking space can vary considerably based on the space you choose. Most coworking spaces have some degree of access control, but your experience will vary on how strict or effective this is, especially during business hours, when people may come and go with relative ease.

Privacy is similar — a coworking space offers greater digital and physical privacy than your local coffee shop, but you’re still sharing the space with others.

Many businesses use a virtual mailbox for privacy reasons. Stable’s virtual mailboxes offer superior security features, both compared to the typical coworking space and other virtual mailbox services. 

For example, Stable offers encrypted document handling and secure access to sensitive mail. Stable is also HIPAA- and SOC-2-certified, and we handle all client mail ourselves (whereas others farm this out to a network of third-party entities, leading to concerns around privacy, security, and quality control).


Coworking spaces may be more convenient than working out of your living room or relocating across the country, but they don’t offer much in terms of mail convenience. 

If they handle your mail at all, they likely dump it all on your desk (or in an informal mailbox system), which means you have to come into the coworking space to deal with it.

With a virtual mailbox, you can efficiently and effortlessly manage mail and documents through your online portal. Stable offers features for streamlining your mail workflows, including scanning, automatic notifications, and online access from anywhere, making it easier to keep your business organized.

Choose the right solution for your business with Stable

The main difference between a coworking space and a virtual mailbox is access to a physical workspace. If you need a place to do the work, then a coworking space makes sense. But if you don’t, then a coworking space is almost certainly an unnecessary expense. 

You can get a professional business address and a broader set of mail-handling services for far less than you’d spend on even a single dedicated desk in a coworking space.

Stable is the best virtual mailbox service for small businesses, startups, and companies with no physical office space. It could also be the ideal solution for coworking members who don’t have mail access through their coworking space.

Ready to streamline your mail management? Sign up with Stable now!

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