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All eyes: A Zynga Inc. employee works at a studio at the company’s headquarters in San Francisco, California. For small business owners or those just starting out, virtual offices that provide a strategic address and receptionist offer a cheaper way to begin. Bloomberg/David Paul MorrisThe changing world has prompted the evolution of the office in the minds of businesspeople.
Offices are no longer a fixed working space that people visit five days a week, nine to five, but can now be anywhere, and also in the form of more than a room with a desk and chair thanks to globalization and technological advances.
Widespread Internet access and the gadget revolution have made offices more flexible and user-friendly for occupants. Especially when the occupants are new in the business, i.e. those who do not require too much from an office, like Julia Puspa Wardhani.
A newbie in the IT business, Julia, 30, opted for a virtual office, a new trend among business communities that provides prestige for newborn companies at affordable costs.
With virtual offices, the companies’ owners can avoid the hassles of renting an entire building. The service enables employers to secure a business address in a strategic location — including a phone number as well as remote receptionists that answer calls from clients — without the need to rent a space, making the companies’ operational costs significantly lower.
For less than Rp 1.5 million (US$159), Julia can have a business location in Kuningan, South Jakarta, for her newly established company, PT I-Data Solusi Sistem.
“It’s my new business. I don’t need much, just a telephone number and a clear address. That’s why I went with a virtual office. It is the best solution for my first business,” said Julia, who chose Regus, which provides virtual offices, to help her run her business.
Through her gadgets, Julia, who works for another company as well, can monitor her business anytime, anywhere.
Working for a living: Some visitors to the Starbucks near Sarinah in Jakarta bring their work with them. Increasingly, businesspeople are opting for “virtual offices” that allow them to work from anywhere in the capital.This cost-cutting solution seems to have made artificial working spaces a new trend in Jakarta’s corporate environment, reflected in the increasing number of players in this business sector catering to the rising demand.
Jakarta is home to a number of virtual office providers that are continuously expanding their operations in the capital. Apart from Regus, a number of companies have sprung up to tap into the market. Among them is voffice.co.id, a local division of Australian company vOffice, and Singapore’s Servcorp is expected to open branches here soon.
The city’s chronic congestion is one of the main reasons for this market, William Willems, regional vice president for Regus Southeast Asia and Pacific, hinted at.
“Access to work space is not easy today in Jakarta. Options to work close to where [people] live is very important,” he said at a recent media gathering for the opening of Regus’ newest branch.
The latest report from the Regus Business Confidence Index found 56 percent of surveyed Indonesian firms wanted a more flexible work space.
Regus responded to this need by opening its fifth branch in Jakarta, which has been followed by other competitors. vOffice executive assistant for its Jakarta branch, Vita Yanitra, told The Jakarta Post the company planned to open a second office in Jakarta to response to increasing demand.
Vita explained vOffice needed new offices because the existing building ran out of space for its operations. The company’s main business lies in the operation of virtual offices, with more than half of its 200 customers either small or new companies.
Virtual offices are on the rise among small and new enterprises because the service provides a good image for those starting companies. Having a business location in the center of Jakarta is surely a benefit for firms with small budgets.
The service also enables small firms to expand to other countries, something that is important in the globalized world, with minimum costs.
Artificial workspaces allow people to have worldwide business operations from their couches.
Twenty-nine-year-old Agung Hari Prabowo is one of the people doing so. He contacted an American company offering virtual office services with US addresses four years ago to build up his company’s brand, all while sitting comfortably in his living room in Jakarta.
“I needed a good image for my company in the international market. Having an American address surely helped,” the owner of a digital firm said.
However, having a virtual office for some business players is only temporary, as most company owners still share the dream of having a real and permanent office building.
Agung has been using a local address that he proudly says is his home office, while Julia plans to rent an office as soon as her business increases.
“I told Regus I may rent their serviced office in the future,” she said.
Apart from offering virtual office services, the British-based company also provides serviced offices to be rented for business purposes.
With such a service, customers get a physical office with all its supporting facilities, including meeting rooms and a shared canteen.
Similar to the virtual office trend, Jakarta has also seen rising demand for serviced offices.
Last year’s report from the property consultancy Knight Frank showed the average occupancy rate of serviced offices in Jakarta stood at around 90 percent.
Indonesia’s booming economy that has propelled foreign investment as well as political stability has contributed to the rise of serviced office use in the capital, the report concluded.
Labor: Some choose to watch films on their iPad while at work. Others work from anywhere they can in order to beat Jakarta’s traffic and save on office rent. JP/R. Berto WedhatamaKnight Frank senior associate director Fakky Hidayat said more companies preferred serviced offices because they offer flexibility that conventional offices do not.
“It’s definitely cheaper, you can rent by the month or the hour and you don’t need to pay maintenance costs,” he said.
No wonder companies have been including serviced offices in their strategy for business expansion strategies.
“The model suits big companies testing the market,” Fakky explained.
Reputable firms like Google, global software company Symantec and telco firm RIM are among Regus’s high-profile clients, Regus business development director for emerging markets Jori Messer said.
In the end, whether small or big, businesses seem to be following the changes in the business world, adapting to customers and their needs.