The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on work patterns. Working from home became the new normal for many businesses. Luckily, digitalization of the work place made it easier for businesses to stay productive during this period with many able to stay fully operational. While remote work was not a completely new concept pre-Covid, the pandemic has certainly acted as a catalyst. In fact, 83% of US employees would prefer to continue working from home for at least one day a week post pandemic and 38% wanting to work from home at least three days per week or entirely.
Technology has facilitated and can continue to facilitate remote work through online platforms, outsourcing to online workers and gig work. Using this technology, employees or independent contractors are able to collaborate and provide work without access to a physical office.
However, while remote work can be an advantage to both businesses and employees, there are certain aspects of working life that require a physical presence. For example, all incorporated businesses in the US are required to have a registered agent, which must have a physical address. A PO Box address is not sufficient.
What is a Registered Agent?
A registered agent provides a reliable point of contact for communication between the business and the state. They are responsible for accepting delivery of important communication from the state such as tax documents, notifications from the Secretary of State or legal documentation. By doing so, they ensure that important documents come to the attention of the business in a timely fashion and help keep the business compliant with various important deadlines. This also ensures that any legal proceedings come to the business owner’s attention as registered agents accept service of legal process. Without this, it is possible that judgement could be brought against a business without them ever being aware of the proceedings against them. It also protects the suing party who can prove that service did take place, a legal requirement for any case to come before a court.
Aside from being extremely beneficial to the business, as stated above, a registered agent is a legal requirement when incorporating a business. This must also be maintained throughout the lifetime of the business or you risk the business losing its good standing with the state and potentially even being dissolved. Perhaps most alarming is that when an incorporated entity loses its compliance status, it loses its corporate veil. This is the thing separating a business owner’s personal assets from those of the business. Without it, business owners are potentially personally liable to lawsuits. This defeats one of the major purposes for incorporating a business in the first place.
Appointing a Registered Agent
Generally it is possible for a business owner to appoint themselves as the business’s registered agent. However this is ill advised as your appointed address will become a matter of public record. If you are working from home, this means your home address will be made public. You will also need to be physically available at that address to accept delivery of documents during normal business hours, Monday to Friday, 09h00 to 17h00. Even something as simple as taking a bathroom break could mean missing an important delivery. Another option is to appoint an attorney’s office as your registered agent. The problem with this is that the fees will generally be quite high.
Rather, businesses should consider appointing a registered agent service. Business owners can read more about the top online registered agent services on Incorporation Rocket. Some of the top rated registered agent services are ZenBusiness, Northwest Registered Agent and Infile, who charge between $119 and $125 per year for this service. For businesses that are not yet incorporated, these service providers also offer an incorporation service which includes one year of free registered agent services. Overall, the costs that can be saved by acting as your own registered agent will unlikely outweigh the invoncenveince and lack of privacy, but a registered agent service can add value to your business, relieve you of stress and responsibility, all for a reasonable fee.
Advances in technology made working from home a possibility, and the Covid-19 pandemic has increased its popularity. That said, while many aspects of the business can be handled remotely, one that cannot is that of a registered agent. The requirements and role of a registered agent necessitate a physical presence. Appointing the right registered agent is therefore of utmost importance and business owners are encouraged to consider a registered agent service.