You don’t necessarily have to be in an office to work. In the conservative sense, an office is a building or a space where business activities are carried out. However, today’s professionals can do their jobs just about anywhere — in a cafe or in a mall as either one is a meeting point. For a mobile executive, meeting a client, negotiating with him or contacting clients from around the world can be done in a coffee shop.
At least this is what Aviv Gunaryo does. This Web designer spends more time conducting business through the Internet than he does meeting clients personally. He looks for prospective jobs on an auction website. If he sees a job to his liking, he applies and sends a proposal and his portfolio. If the client is interested and the two sides agree on a price, Aviv will then start working on a design for the company.
Aviv, the director of Creative Vector, does not need to work at an office in the traditional sense of the word but can just work from his house in the suburbs of Jakarta. He sometimes finishes his design and sits in a cafe completing his correspondence. “With a laptop and an Internet connection, I can do my work anywhere,” he said.
Steve Kurnia is another example. Steve, a professional in the foreign exchange and capital market, does half of his work away from his office in Kuningan, Jakarta. This 38 year old frequently sits at Starbucks coffee shop. Relying on his notebook or PDA, he can freely surf the Internet while monitoring the movement of foreign exchange and share prices.
With progress in IT, both Aviv and Steve can conduct business in any Wi-Fi coffee shop and establish online contact with clients. Regardless of the place, as long as there is a Wi-Fi facility, any job can be done easily, ranging from lobbying to making a presentation, including, of course, sending and receiving email and chatting online. These days, many people use Blackberry. This is a facility with email service, which appears like a text message. So, if just about anything can be done anywhere, why bother having an office?
Quite a lot of people are mobile workers, although not everyone can work this way. Some jobs do require a physical presence in the office, such as phone operator, secretary and clerk. Mobile professionals include marketer, management consultant, reporter, writer and other positions related to creative work as well as entrepreneurs managing their own companies.
Although they must take care of their office affairs, they do not require an office in the physical sense, especially with the presence of virtual offices. A business address continues to be necessary but an office is not too important in the sense that you can move it anywhere, be it your house or even a coffee stall.
In their lines of business, Aviv and Steve, for example, do not need an actual office. They continue to work from home, but to organize some of their business activities, such as correspondence, communication or meetings, providers of a virtual office can be invaluable to them.
There are a number of benefits to having a virtual office. When meeting a business partner in a coordination meeting or holding a product demonstration, for example, you need not take your business partner or client to your house in the suburbs. You simply go to the office of a virtual office provider located downtown. You can also have the name and address of the virtual office provider printed on your business cards and letterhead so that your prestige will be enhanced.
In Jakarta, there are some major virtual office providers located in the Central Business District. They provide office space of varying sizes, and of course various services.
Virtual office providers can be found in major cities like Jakarta, where office space is leased at high prices.
CEO Suite is the pioneer for the provision of this particular service. However, similar companies have sprung up and they, too, offer relatively low prices for the use of space, their address and office facilities.
Rates for virtual offices are a fraction of the cost of an actual office in a strategic location. But just because the rates are relatively low, it should not be assumed that only minimum facilities are provided. Besides basic facilities — such as a fully furnished office, electricity, air-conditioning, telephone line, fax machine and a photocopier — receptionists and a 24-hour security system are also provided. There is also a lobby where you can receive guests and a meeting room, which can be rented on an hourly basis and used for internal meetings or for meetings with clients. To make all this operational, a virtual office comes with a secretary, who will take phone calls and receive your clients. For extra, telemarketing can even be conducted.
So, having no office is no longer a constraint. As there are companies offering virtual offices, the problem of office space is solved. In the past, team members of a company were usually placed in an office. Today, mobile individuals can work even more aggressively.
Indeed, research conducted by a national newspaper has it that Indonesians still feel the need to have an office in the physical sense of the word despite progress of technology that has led to the invention of new gadgets complete with features for expediency. It can be predicted that with the development of IT and the presence of 3G and 3.5 G technologies, the population of mobile workers will also increase in Indonesia.
In addition, as Jakarta’s streets have become increasingly congested, a mobile worker’s lifestyle will be very helpful as it allows you to work efficiently and effectively. In the past, you could sit comfortably only at star-rated hotels but today there are cafes and coffee shops in every mall in which you can sit in comfort. Jakarta alone is home to some 600 cafes and clubs.
These are places where you can not only dine and drink, but where you can relax, unwind and hang out. Or you can just chill out while waiting for traffic to ease. More interestingly, these places are highly suitable for mobile work, especially since they have hot spot facilities.
This phenomenon is certainly found not only in Indonesia but it has become a trend in both advanced and developing countries. This concept is developing because of the progress in information technology. Electronic and digital technologies serve as a medium for a business process and system much better than conventional ones, particularly in terms of benefits derived by those concerned. (Reyhan Fabiano)
The Jakarta Post, May 13, 2008