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Office Trailers vs. Ground Level Office Containers: What's the Difference?

3 minute read
May 20, 2020
Office Trailers vs. Ground Level Office Containers: What's the Difference?

If your business is conducted at temporary jobsites that are humming with machinery – like a construction site or an oil rig – you’ll need a quiet place for employees to step indoors to manage paperwork and emails. As you search for a mobile solution, you will likely come across two options: office trailers and ground level offices (also known as a GLOs). Choosing between these two solutions should be made by first understanding: “What are the differences between these mobile office options and how will they impact my business operations?”

Office Trailers vs. Ground Level Offices

Diagram that describes the differences between office trailers and shipping container-based offices

Are Office Trailers Considered Ground Level?

Despite the fact that office trailers aren’t far from the ground, they are not considered ground level. Instead, they sit on a chassis – a frame with wheels and a towing hitch – which stands a few feet off the ground. Ground level offices, on the other hand, sit directly on the ground as stated.

How Are Office Trailers and Ground Level Offices Constructed?

Both office trailers and ground level offices are constructed offsite in a manufacturing facility. Office trailers tend to use steel and aluminum for framing, along with a combination of fiberglass, vinyl, aluminum, plywood, and other materials for the walls. Although, you should keep in mind that there’s a fair amount of variability depending on the manufacturer and model.

Similarly, ground level offices also come in a variety of designs, but shipping container structures have become the gold standard for many organizations. This is due in part to a container’s inherent mobility and durability.

Manufacturers of repurposed shipping containers modify the boxes into modular offices with all the amenities including doors, windows, electricity, plumbing, and more. As ground level offices, container structures tend to have the steel framing and corrugated steel walls of the original conex container. Manufacturers will often finish out the office interior with plywood.

How Do I Transport My Office Trailer or Ground Level Office?

Shipping Container Chassis

Office trailers are permanently mounted on a chassis – a frame with wheels – and are therefore towable by truck. Ground level offices need to be placed onsite by a crane, specialty forklift, or tilt bed truck.

It’s possible to place a ground level office on a chassis. However, once the office is up on wheels, it’s no longer a ground level office, but rather a container-based office trailer. Most businesses choose to keep their container-based offices at ground level because the maintenance associated with the tires and chassis frame adds cost and inconvenience.

What Site Prep Will My Office Trailer and Ground Level Office Need?

Office trailers and ground level offices both require flat, dry and level surfaces. Because an office trailer is on a chassis, you will need to spend some time blocking and leveling the frame. You may choose to cover the blocking and wheels with skirting to make the office look less like a trailer. Office trailers must also have OSHA compliant stairs from the ground to the doorway.

Ground level offices, true to their name, sit directly on the ground, no stairs needed. Depending on the site conditions, businesses often place their container-based offices without preparing a foundation.

Business Benefits to Ground Level Offices

Shipping container modified into a ground level office

Since ground level offices are comparable in price and offer the same plug and play convenience of office trailers, we’d argue that any business that uses office trailers should consider shipping container-based ground level offices. That being said, ground level offices are particularly advantageous for certain businesses including:

Businesses That Travel Over Rough, Unpaved Roads

The lifespan of an office trailer is directly related to how often it will be relocated and the quality of the roads it travels. For instance, if an office trailer is moved from the factory to a school campus and never moved again, the trailer might enjoy a long 20+ year lifespan. However, if a mining company frequently tows an office trailer over unpaved roads, significant and costly maintenance issues will crop up over time.

Businesses That Need Extra Security

We won’t say it’s impossible to burglarize a shipping container-based office, but the steel walls and barred windows make breaking in extremely difficult. Construction companies were among the first to use shipping container-based storage and offices because the added security prevented theft at the jobsite.

Your Options for Ground Level Offices

We know; they all look similar on the outside—rectangular, corrugated steel, a personnel door or two—but at Falcon, we’ve created seven unique models of shipping container-based ground level offices. In our experience, businesses use container offices for three purposes: private office space, open conferencing space, and storage. If you’d like to inquire about a shipping container office, give us a call at 877-704-0177 or email us at Sales@FalconStructures.com. We will be happy to talk more about your company’s needs.

Answers to Common Shipping Container Questions

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