Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mobile office is today's office trend


Ika Sastrosubroto glanced at her notebook screen while sipping coffee. That morning she had to send a proposal to a client. She read it briefly and after checking the address, just clicked and the proposal was dispatched to the client. Within seconds, the client received it in her e-mail inbox.

Ika, the director of Momentum Communications Consultant, did not send the proposal from her office but from a cafe in Plaza Senayan, Jakarta. Living in Cibubur, East Jakarta, that morning she did not drive to her office, located in Santa in Blok M, South Jakarta, because later in the morning she had an appointment with another client in the same plaza.

"It's isn't just today that it's like this. Most of the time I'm on the road. I can manage my company from anywhere thanks to my laptop, the Internet and my cell phone," she said.

Information technology has made everything very simple and easy to do. Thanks to the wi-fi Internet facility, Ika can contact clients online.

"These days any job can be done with ease regardless of where you are, as long as there is a wi-fi area to let you connect to the Internet. To make it even easier, you can simply put a 3G data card into your laptop to be connected to the Internet. And there is a great array of things that you can do, ranging from lobbying to making a presentation, chatting and using e-mail facilities. Internet banking facility also allows you to transfer money," Ika said.

To many, a conventional office is used only as a workshop where administrative and secretarial work is done. Important work can be done just about anywhere, particularly at meeting points located in most strategic places. Like Ika, many people work while mobile. They are marketing people, management consultants, reporters, writers and people with creative jobs. And, of course, this group includes entrepreneurs managing their own businesses.

People don't always need an office in which to work. In its conventional sense, an office is where business activities are conducted, but today's professionals can do their jobs anywhere: in cafes and malls, which have become meeting points. Indeed, in research by a national newspaper, it was found that Indonesians still feel the need to have an office in the physical sense despite the great advance in technology, marked with the introduction of new gadgets with features that make jobs much easier to do. It is expected, however, that with the introduction of 3G technology, more and more people will have mobile offices in Indonesia.

Not only has cell phone technology become increasingly more sophisticated but Internet-based technology has also seen great developments. As a result, mobile offices are also becoming cheaper, easier and more effective. Take, for example, the VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) facility, which makes long-distance communication inexpensive. Vonage, headquartered in Williamsburg, Virginia, U.S., for example, offers a cheap package: US$49.99 per month for local and long-distance calls. Meanwhile Yahoo! Messenger with Voice, GoogleTalk and Skype, offers free services.

To send bulky files, for example, it is not necessary to use a disk and physically deliver it to a client or send it via the Internet, which may take hours. Today there is an online service by Ibackup (www.ibackup.com), which costs just $9.95 per month for storage and sharing space of 5 gigabytes. You simply give your client the password and he or she can access the file.

Besides corporate websites, now there are blogs, web pages that are very easy to make because the various necessary templates are readily available. These business blogs can obviously intensify business communication, either with customers or corporate partners. In short, a company can make use of many technologies today to get ahead in business.

Understandably, much has changed in this Internet and 3G era. Today's office does not necessarily need space or a building in the conventional sense. A mobile office is a virtual office that is not confined by space or time but it is as effective as an ordinary office, with office hours spanning between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

As Jakarta's traffic gets increasingly worse, the mobile office is very helpful to professionals as it allows them to work efficiently and effectively. The presence of cafes and coffee shops in malls and plazas also make the mobile office concept workable. In the past, comfortable cafes could only be found in star-rated hotels. Today, coffee shops, whether foreign (Starbucks, Coffee Bean, Dome, Glora Jeans, etc.) or domestic chains (Exelso, Tator, Bakoel Koffie, etc.), can be found anywhere in the city.

These are places to not only drink and dine; they are also cozy places at which to unwind or hang out. Or to just kill time until the traffic eases. More interestingly, they are also highly suitable places where you can get work done, especially since they are wi-fi ready, therefore enabling professionals to work online.

Mall and plaza developers and management companies are aware that people need these spots not only for shopping but also as meeting points that must be complete with facilities that provide comfort and allow people to work easily.

Cilandak Town Square, to mention one example, is not merely a place at which to shop or drink and dine, it is much more than that. It is a lifestyle center. That's why you can find not only a department store and a supermarket there but also a number of cafes and coffee shops, places frequently used as meeting places by highly mobile people. The presence of these venues helps contribute to the growth of the mobile office.

"On the other hand, the mobile office as a lifestyle has also transformed the concept of a cafe. A cafe is no longer a place at which to just hang out but has become a place to work and do business," said an executive of the company managing Mal Kelapa Gading in North Jakarta. (Burhanuddin Abe)

The Jakarta Post
January 23, 2007

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