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What Is a Mobile Office?

By Theresa Miles
Updated May 16, 2024
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A mobile office is a temporary or movable configuration of equipment and services that allows a person to function as if he is working from a permanent office. It enables workers to create a professional facade to insulate clients or customers from the transient nature of office operations. Alternatively, it provides basic office functionality in situations where permanent arrangements would be costly or unnecessary. New mobile technology has expanded the parameters of this type of office from a definition based primarily on the mobility of the office location to one that includes the mobility of the individual worker.

The viability of the mobile office has changed the way the world does business. Traditionally, a mobile office was a physical location that was temporary and movable. For example, contractors at construction sites often set-up mobile offices in trailers, trucks, or motor homes so they can conduct business for the duration of their time at that location. Disaster relief is another example of a temporary need for office functionality at a specific field site. Movies filming on location also make use of mobile office set-ups.

This type of office has most of the trappings of a regular office with the caveat that it can all be broken down or relocated when necessary. Electricity and other utilities are directed to the site on a temporary basis. Much of the same sort of furniture and equipment found in a permanent office would be used. What qualifies the office as mobile is the ability to move it at will rather than any particular mobility of the equipment used.

A more modern definition of a mobile office takes into account developments in mobile technology, increases in Internet usage, and the popularization of web-based software that enables real-time collaboration from a distance. It is based on the mobility of the worker and the concept of being able to work effectively from anywhere as if sitting at a desk in an office building. This type of office uses a portable computing device, such as a laptop or tablet, a mobile phone, access to the Internet, and various collaboration and virtual office applications to make the worker seem as if he is functioning alongside his fellows in a permanent office rather than out in the field.

The way the mobile office has evolved in line with technological advances has enabled businesses to cut fixed costs associated with maintaining a desk set-up or office for every employee. It has galvanized entrepreneurship by enabling small businesses to present a professional face without having to commit to long term leasing of facilities and equipment. As the traditional mobile office construct converges with the notion of a virtual or Internet-enabled office, businesses can achieve increased productivity and profitability while workers enjoy a more convenient and efficient work experience that does not necessarily rely on them reporting to work at a specific location.

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