Many companies maintain several facilities to operate their businesses. Manufacturing plants house the production operation of a business. Retail stores provide a location where customers look at the merchandise and make purchases. Warehouses provide storage for company inventory until it is needed in the retail store or production facility. Corporate offices house the support functions of a business and operate outside of the primary business function.
A corporate office exists to provide a home for departments that support the primary business departments indirectly. These employees support the operational employees by providing information technology (IT) services, addressing human resource concerns and processing payroll. The corporate office also houses employees who support the company at a higher level, such as through financial reporting or by creating government reports. Government regulators or external auditors typically meet with corporate employees for reporting purposes.
Most corporate offices provide employees with clean facilities to work in. Employees work at individual desks, in cubicles or in offices. Most employee work spaces come equipped with a computer and a telephone. Corporate offices provide lounge areas where employees can spend their break times. Some corporate offices offer cafeterias or vending machines where employees can purchase snacks or meals during the workday.
Thanks to technology, corporate offices occupy different forms. Many corporate offices occupy physical space where employees gather to complete their work, meet with other employees and conduct business with customers. Other corporate offices are virtual. Employees work from their homes, connecting via the Internet with other employees. These employees use video technology to meet with employees, email each other or call them. Employees of virtual corporate offices work in various cities and rarely see each other face to face.
Some companies maintain a corporate office at the same location as their retail store or production facility. These companies benefit by allowing the employees easy access to the departmental functions working out of the corporate office. Companies that maintain a separate facility allow the corporate employees to focus on their work without interruption. Some companies desire a physical location to house their corporate employees, but lack the funds to build their own facilities for this purpose. These companies rent facilities from "incubators," which provide facilities where corporate employees can perform their work, meet with clients and hold meetings.