Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Mobile offices

hydrogen powered offices that drive around the country/state
  [vote for,

This idea is inspired by the traffic problems in the Netherlands.

In my country the traffic jams are for a large part caused by commuters in the morning and evening. While you can live well without a car in most parts of the country (supermarkets are near, kids go to school by bike) it is increasingly difficult to live comfortably and go to work without a car.

In suburbia you can survive without a car as a homeworker, but most people work more than 5 kilometers away (the distance people can travel by bike, foot or a few public transport stops). People live some 20 or 30 minutes away from work by car for example. Public transport is usually not an alternative because it nearly always goes somewhere you don't want to go (unlike the metro in Paris for example, that is where the concept works).

The population is not concentrated in one big city, but sprawled in a highly populated area with about 5 big cities in them and a lot of suburbia in between.

Let the offices move around the country in circles instead of office workers commuting to their fixed offices.

Working at home works only for a small number of tasks and the people who have functions that consist only of such tasks and have the personality to enjoy it already work at home (writers, programmers, whatever). Employers also prefer to have the employees come together at work for various reasons. Most employees also like to seperate work from home physically.

When offices move around the country instead of employees, clients and suppliers going to the offices, a lot of car movement can be avoided with careful planning.

The employees walk or bike to a convenient location where the office can pass by on rails or on the highway. When they enter the office they can start working, while the coworkers are picked up at their homes. Depending on the direction the office moves in you start to work early or late. When your office doesn't stop by, you can also rent an office in another company for a while until you find a good connection with your office. Perhaps make some good contacts along the way if you think the company can be interesting for your company. Or you can arrange the office of a client to pick you up in the morning.

The offices drive according to a carefully planned and published schedule, which determines many of the appointments people make. If you need to see a client, you make the appointment when your office parks for a while at the same parking or station as the office you want to visit. Your moving office can also visit non- moving offices, either of the company you work for or other companies. The area where all the offices move is not that big, you can make a circle in the country like two or three times a day. If the other offices also move you can easily meet each other.

Delays are less critical than before. Now you can miss a train transfer in just a few minutes and you waste a lot of time waiting. The moving offices arrive early for a transfer and are parked next to the other offices for a while until all the transfers are done.

For lunch the office stops at a restaurant where you can eat and meet people from other offices (your company or others). Perhaps you run into someone you know or would like to know. In the offices there is no cafetaria, it is outsourced to restaurants on physical (nice) locations.

The office cleaning and maintenance at the end of the day can be done in places where cheap labour lives (there is more employment in the north of the country).

Some departments in organisations are perfectly fit for this kind of office (sales, marketing) others not at all (manufacturing, laboratories).

There are many ecological advantages:

1. No (ugly) offices along the highways that just sit there eating up space outside office hours. The offices are driving on the highways that are already there using the overcapacity of roads outside of the rush hours. The offices will avoid traffic jams with the use of careful planning by the driver. The office has the time to make detours or drive slow when needed. An individual driver does not want to lose time.

2. Instead of a few dozen cars going to the office on a central location the office picks up a few dozen employees decentrally. They don't need a car and don't waste road and parking space.

3. Instead of cars from suppliers, couriers, maintenance people driving to the office, the office can be driven there the supplies can be picked up. Cleaning and maintenance can be done outside office hours or the office goes into repair and is temporarily replaced by another office.

4. The energy for the office can be derived from hydrogen. See link. Hydrogen can power both the engine as the electricity on board and is perfectly clean. The hydrogen is derived from wind or solarelectricity to electrolyse it. Now they cannot store a surplus of electricity, with hydrogen they can. This hydrogen be made anywere in the country where the conditions are the best, the office will drive there to pick up the hydrogen. The office can continue to make electricity from hydrogen outside office hours and sell it back to the energy grid (where such a facility is made, the office can be parked there).

5. When a few dozen of these hydrogen powered offices drive around in the country, the hydrogen powerstation become economically viable and consumers can switch to hydrogen powered cars more easily.

Businesswise it also makes sense:

1. The office driving around is advertising. It is very accessible for (potential) clients when it is parked somewhere where other offices also gather. Or you they call you to come over some time when in around. In a fixed office park/building you get to know your direct neighbours pretty quickly, now you can meet new ones all the time.

2. The market is easier to expand to areas where you don't have an office. You only have to drive your office there once a week to establish contacts. Dutch companies can expand into Germany more easily for example, the clients can arrange a meeting on a parking near the Autobahn.

3. It is easier to find or fire employees. A major obstacle for a flexible economy in Europe is the inflexibility of the workforce compared to the US of A. People do not want to move to find a job elsewhere and companies do not bother to seek employes to far away. When you have a highly specialised job you hold on to mostly because it is close from your home, you can then change it for that job for another employer from another region that wants to drive by to pick you up.

4. The officespace can be expanded and shrinked whenever it is needed. There are no investments in buildings that cost a lot. Internal reorganisations are done by planning not by moving around stuff. You plan certain employees together in one office or let offices that should work closer together more often park near each other.

Now, how does this translate to other countries?

rrr, Nov 07 2003

Dutch documentary on the hydrogen revolution http://info.vpro.nl...18+7738520+14331107
This documentary was an eye-opener on the hydrogen revolution to me. Even when you don't understand Dutch you can see it, what the Dutch narrator explains is quite obvious most of the time, the interviews and illustrations are most informative. [rrr, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Spinning City of Fun http://www.halfbake...g_20City_20of_20Fun
Similar idea. Shorter description. [Worldgineer, Oct 04 2004]


       I'm sure we did something like this before, but you've obviously spent weeks putting this together, so it seems kind of churlish to say anything.   

       Btw, people's commute to work has averaged half an hour since pre-Roman times. (Not entirely sure how they established Celtic work habits, but that's what the study said.) That we can go faster on our daily commutes only means that we end up living further away from our work.
DrCurry, Nov 07 2003

       It's not so much the time it takes to go to work. Most important is that people don't take a car to work to stay within that half an hour average. They can take an 30 minute walk to where their office picks them up if they wish.   

       I wrote this on Usenet in 10 minutes this morning. The more structured translation took a little less. I am sorry it is not any shorter, this follows more accurately my thoughts about it.
rrr, Nov 07 2003

       In the UK, Royal Mail has a mobile post office built into a fully operational train. Mail is sorted while it is in transit across the country. Perhaps it would be not too much more expensive for companies to build their offices into trains and pick up their staff from various stations each morning.
nalbion, Apr 11 2004


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