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A corporate office is the central hub of a corporation. Also known as head office, it’s the principal location where key decisions are made. The corporate office is where the top decision-makers of the company maintain their offices, including the CEO and other executives of the company.
Corporate offices are places where business gets done. It houses the headquarters of a company, which is often the nerve center of the company. This hub of operations allows a company to run and function smoothly because all head departments are located in one place and can communicate with each other effectively. A corporate office usually consists of multiple departments, including accounting, human resources, and payroll.
Corporate offices can vary in size from a few employees to thousands. Not only that, but the business type can vary as well. For example, a large corporation might have a corporate office, but most likely they have multiple corporate offices all over the world. On the other hand, a smaller company like a regional bank may have its corporate office in one centralized location.
Role and purpose of a corporate office
A corporate office can also be referred to as a “company headquarters,” “administration offices,” or “management offices,” depending on the company’s business activities. It is the main office that takes responsibility for the direction and success of the corporation. It is the most important part of a company structure that indirectly supports the primary operational departments of the company through strategic planning.
Executives and employees that work there are responsible for managing the company’s operations. The corporate office handles important functions and carries out obligatory tasks that represent the company legally. It also aggregates and executes key business components such as corporate communications, finance, taxes, marketing, human resources, legal data, and more.
The corporate office is also where government representatives or external auditors typically meet with company executives for regulatory purposes. In addition, other sub-divisions and regional branches often report to the corporate office, and support staff may occasionally visit for instructions and training purposes.
Corporate headquarters are generally located in a large city to allow easy access to airplanes, trains, and taxis for business meetings. However, a corporation might have other regional head offices spread across the country and the world while working towards the same corporate goal. These sub-regional branches typically report to the corporate office headed by the CEO; they receive instruction and guidance on policies and practices from the overall decisions made at the head office.
Corporate offices are usually selected by the founders and are mostly located where they live. A company head office may or may not be in the same location where the business is incorporated or where most of the employees work. Today, it’s even more common to see the head office of a corporation located outside of the city or state where the business was founded, and even farther from where the majority of its customers are located.
Some companies maintain two corporate headquarters (example: Amazon planned HQ2) within the same country or across different continents to manage law and tax compliance internationally. For example, a company may be headquartered in California but has another head office in Hong Kong. The company may designate specific tasks to the Hong Kong headquarters to perform legal and tax compliance functions internationally within Asia and Europe.
Some companies choose to locate their corporate office on the same site as their production or retail facility. Companies could benefit by providing the same working environment with employees, giving them unrestricted access to higher departmental functions within the corporate office. The same can also be said about companies that maintain separate facilities that allow corporate staff to focus on their administrative work without interruption.
Many companies also use rented facilities, especially in the beginning stages, either because of lack of funds or because they want to save costs for more important tasks. These facilities sometimes called “incubators,” provide the necessary working environment where corporate employees can hold meetings, meet with prospective clients, and generally carry out their work.
Where exactly the corporate office of a corporation is located is irrelevant for most investors, because it’s the performance of the company that matters, not the location of the corporate office.
Virtual and physical
In today’s world of modern technology, corporate offices now function in different forms. Some corporate offices function in a physical structure where staffs meet to perform their work and carry out their day-to-day business. Other corporate offices function virtually, thanks to technology.
The corporate office environment provides employees with a conducive atmosphere where they can interact, work, and brainstorm ideas. While some companies enjoy the benefits of having a physical corporate office where they can meet their colleagues, other companies prefer to create a virtual headquarters to maximize their capital and operational efficiency.
In the past, physical office spaces were only available for those who had the budget to afford such a large expense. Virtual office spaces are now available at a small monthly cost to businesses and entrepreneurs, regardless of their budget.
The virtual corporate office is a setting that uses telecommunications, teleconferencing facilities, social networks, internet banking, and e-commerce. It is also a type of organizational structure used for business operations. Virtual offices can be used to increase flexibility and save costs. They may take the form of a shared office space that offers virtual services to its clients.
Virtual corporate offices employ the use of technology to connect employees via the internet. These employees generally work from their homes or co-working spaces using video technology. They communicate via Slack and other work tools, call and send each other emails. They work in various cities around the country or world and rarely see each other in person except maybe once a year when they all travel and meet at a destination for a corporate retreat.
Most corporate office environments are ‘entrepreneurial’ by design, allowing employees to work in individual office spaces or desks – furnished with a telephone and a computer. A typical corporate office includes several kinds of work environments for the employees. Typically, one large room will be set aside for desks and cubicles.
Within a corporate office setting, employees work in traditional offices or cubicles. Office cubicles come with a desk and a chair. Some cubicles may have additional furnishings, such as a garbage can and a filing cabinet. Lounges are available for employees to relax and socialize during their break time. Conference rooms are used for meetings with clients or when group work is necessary.
Particularly large corporations may have open office space. In this type of environment, all employees share common areas, such as meeting rooms and break areas.
Communications specialists work in an office that is set apart from other employees. For example, large corporations may have designated areas for communications professionals to fill orders, fax papers, and make telephone calls.
Some corporate offices have a dress code all employees must follow, usually specified by the employer.
Regional corporate office
A regional corporate office is basically an extension of the headquarters’ corporate office in a particular region. It is established to coordinate business functions in that region. It reports directly to the corporate office and performs all the duties of running that particular business sector, including the marketing function, operation of company territory, care of customer needs and sales of company products in that region.
Difference between a corporate office and a registered office
It is not uncommon today for businesses to be headquartered in one state but have a corporate office in another. The difference between the two is significant. A corporate office is where the business is managed, and staff perform their duties and carry out company operations. It is the head office of a company where decision-making and strategic planning to run the day-to-day operations of the corporation are made.
On the other hand, a registered office is a physical location where a corporation is registered as its permanent address. It is the location of the corporation in terms of legal documents. A registered office cannot be a P.O. box; it has to be a physical location with a registered agent to receive documents on behalf of the corporation. The registered office may be located at a different address than that of its physical corporate office.