What is a Shipping Container Office?
Shipping container offices – also referred to as ground level offices (GLOs), conex offices, and container offices are on the rise in America, due to their versatility, low cost, and sustainability as office spaces. What are shipping container offices and where did they come from? Within the last decade, more and more shipping containers have been used in America to import and export trade materials overseas. But eventually, these containers are no longer needed for shipping – and that’s why they’re great to recycle as living or working spaces! Shipping containers are extremely sturdy, durable, weather-resistant metal structures, and they’re also portable and cost-effective. Additionally, they can be constructed as either temporary OR permanent spaces. They give businesses the option to build work space cheaply, as well as implement a portable, flexible, and scalable architectural design.
Shipping Container Office vs. Mobile Office
Most mobile offices (aka “mobile office trailers”) are above-ground, portable structures that require stairs or a ramp that are compliant with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration). Because they’re designed to function as offices, most have vinyl floors built in, as well as other finishing options.
On the other hand, shipping container offices are constructed from re-purposed shipping containers. They are ground-level, instead of above-ground – and extremely weather-resistant, since they’re made of steel. Since they are re-purposed, they don’t offer some of the finishing options many mobile office suppliers offer right off the bat. But the good news is that they allow for a great deal of creativity and customization, and you can design your shipping container office to fit your business needs.
Most shipping container offices come in standardized 10-foot, 20-foot, and 40-foot lengths. However, you can opt for customized sized container, depending on the way you plan to build your shipping container office. Many businesses planning to build a shipping container office now choose a variety of sizes, and construct them as stacked units. It all depends on the size and shape of the office you have in mind!
There are several different options for layouts or floor plans when deciding on a shipping container office. This makes it easy for businesses in a variety of industries to customize their shipping container office to fit their space needs.
A shipping container office with an open layout will have one open space with no walls or dividers for private rooms. You can choose an open layout for a variety of office sizes, including 10-foot (80 sq. feet) 20-foot (160 sq. feet) and 40-foot (320 sq. feet). These offices are a great option for employees working alone, or businesses who don’t mind sharing a space with their co-workers. Keep in mind that you can also add a half bathroom to this layout, if needed.
A dual office layout will allow you to utilize two private offices, separated by floor-to-ceiling walls, in your shipping container office. Many come with doors that give access to each office, but you can also opt for just one door if you prefer. This is a great option if you’re working with one or more other co-workers regularly, and prefer more privacy. Another plus is that even with private offices, your unit will still be climate controlled! You can also add an HVAC system or bathroom to these units. Keep in mind that a 40-foot container will be the most space-efficient, but you can still usually opt for a dual office layout with a 20-foot container.
“Store and Work”
The “store and work” layout gives you the opportunity to gain office space and storage space at the same time. These offices have a layout similar to a dual office, but one space is used for storage instead of a second office. It’s up to you whether you want to designate a larger storage space vs. office space, depending on your needs. Most “store and work” offices have two different entryways for easy access to either your office or storage space. Plus, you don’t have to worry about disturbances to your office when accessing your storage! These offices are climate controlled and come with insulation. For the “store and work” option, you can also choose between a 20-foot and 40-foot unit.
The workplace layout for a shipping container office allows you to enjoy two private offices with a shared space in between. This shared space can be used as a meeting area, conference room, break area, reception area, filing space, and more. Usually, businesses that have 3 or more employees using the space on a regular basis will opt for this kind of shipping container office. Like other options, you can add a bathroom and HVAC unit to these. Most of the time, a 40-foot container makes the most sense due to the three separate rooms in this layout.
The cost of a container office depends on multiple factors – including the size and dimension of the office, how many containers you need, and the condition of those containers. For instance, if you want to build with brand new containers (or ones that have been shipped overseas < 1 time), your cost per container will be around $3,000 to $6,000, depending on the size, features and market price. Used containers can cost anywhere from $1,000-$4,000. A good way to decide on whether to buy new or used containers is to consider how long you’ll be using the unit. Is it meant to be a permanent or semi-permanent office space? It may be smart to buy used. You’ll see a higher return-on-investment. Is it meant to be temporary? It’s probably wise to opt for used containers.
When budgeting for a shipping container office, it’s also easy to miss necessities like delivery costs and add-on installations (like electricity, interior finishing, etc.). Remember that you want to design your shipping container office to be as comfortable as possible. After all, you’re working there regularly! Be sure to evaluate all your options in our cost checklist when budgeting to make the most out of your new space.
There are dozens of advantages to choosing a shipping container office for your business. Here are just some of the ways they’ve been helping companies worldwide:
- Cost-effective. Think about the average cost of renting or buying office space in your city. For many businesses, choosing to construct a shipping container office rather than renting month-to-month space can pay for itself a thousand times over!
- Environmentally friendly. It makes so much sense to recycle lightly used shipping containers, especially considering how durable and sturdy they are! Their metal is long-lasting, and repurposing them as livable space assures they’re getting used efficiently.
- Space efficiency. Shipping containers have efficient interior layouts that account for anything you might need to include in your office. Not only that – they are also stackable and scalable, allowing you to add more floors and space with no problem!
- Customizable. Instead of renting office space, you can get imaginative with your container office and include the features you want.
- Portability. Need to relocate, build a new office, or just need a temporary space? One of the biggest perks to choosing a container office is that it can be easily relocated! Shipping containers are designed with infrastructure that move easily. No need to plan a forever office space.
Ready to explore your options for shipping container offices? Our 100% free service helps you find the top 5 suppliers to consider for your specific needs when planning for a shipping container office. They can answer any questions you have, give you guidance, and most importantly – provide competitive quotes. That way, you know you’re getting the fairest price! Get started.