Virtual Offices are here for real

Virtual and instant offices are still relatively new in the country, but there is a growing demand for the service. The Jakarta Post’s contributor Rudy Madanir takes a close look at the trend.

Jakarta: Be a guest of Michael Sinjorgo. This means that you will warmly welcomed by two beautiful, smiling receptionists as soon as you step into the reception area. In a minute, you are seated in the spacious hall with a cup of tea or coffee, enjoying the comfort and luxurious atmosphere of an office located in the Jakarta Stock Exchange Building on Jl. Sudirman, a prestigious business address in town.

“Wow, you have a huge office,” said Sinjorgo mimicking the frequent comments made by his guests. “They think I am the big boss for the whole place,” he said, laughing. To the guest’s surprise, Sinjorgo explains that the office is not his, it is only partly rented for the purpose of meeting with his guests.

The white-haired Sinjorgo, 59, a Canadian national , is the president director of an insurance risk management consulting company, PT. Usaha Tepat Guna. He runs his business with only five local staff and his company practically has no need of permanent office space throughout the year. Because of the nature of his company’s work, it is more practical for Sinjorgo, who works with large companies, to have office space within his client’s offices. “Our staff are very mobile, they can spend four hours in one company and then move to another for another three hours. This means we don’t necessarily need our own office space,” he said

Sinjorgo is a client of an instant office center that applies a concept of virtual office – “an office when one does not have a physical office.” By paying approximately Rp.1 million a month, Sinjorgo has a basic virtual office service, including a dedicated telephone line, a receptionist answering the telephone under his company name, an hour a day of using the office, and most importantly, the use of the instant office center as his business address.

The number of companies sharing the same address with Sinjorgo could reach 140, as the center does not only cater to virtual office clients but also serves 40 in-house clients. Occupying a half or a whole floor at some of the newest buildings along Jakarta’s main thoroughfares, the centers are now waking to the needs of the business community, providing corporate image and cost efficiency among other services.

Coincident with the recovery of the Indonesian economy, more and more companies are now flocking to centers trying to provide the general and specific needs of each client. Clients cold include a new foreign investor who just arrived, seeking a business opportunity, or it could be another downsizing company that has been forced by the economic crisis to move from the prestigious business district.

A newly arrived multinational corporation can rent a small furnished office within a center with shared secretaries, receptionists and boardroom, before setting up its own office or factory. That way it can focus on its start-up operations without being bothered by the hassle of establishing its own office and recruiting employees. After several months, the company can eave its temporary office to set up of its own, or it may set up a representative office and remain with the center, or if it has not been successful, leave the country.

A downsizing company can still maintain its business image by becoming a client in one of the virtual office centers. Being a client does not mean that the company must rent an office in the center. The company can rent the address of the center including a personalized telephone answering service in its company name. As a result, the company saves the cost of renting office space in the expensive area. And more importantly, it can save its image by not showing its ruko (shophouse) address in Tangerang or Bekasi as its representative office. Be it real (in house) or virtua , the demand for instant offices is growing.

CEO, one of the main instant office operators, has reached its full capacity both for in house and virtual office clients at its center in the Jakarta Stock Exchange building. Consequently, the operator has opened its second center at the GKBI building. By the Semangi cloverleaf

Unlike traditional offices, the centers provide some flexibility to their in-house clients in terms of rent payment, from monthly to hourly, if necessary.

The room sizes in the two center varies from as small as 12 squares meters to 70 square meters. Some rooms are designed for expansion or downsizing with jus a connecting door and partition, as requirements change overnight.

When the Indonesian economy is no longer dominated by big business players, three will be more small and medium companies needing less than 100 square meters of office space because of support from Internet and high technology.

Mar 25, 2013

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