Mobile Office or Traditional Trailer: What’s the Difference?

Mobile Office or Traditional Trailer: What’s the Difference?

Nov 15th 2023

Mobile Offices vs Traditional Trailers
When you need an office at your construction site, your choices are limited to either building an area on-site or setting up a temporary to semi-permanent mobile office. Most construction companies tend to lean towards the mobile office choice but then another question arises: should you opt for the traditional construction trailer, or a shipping container turned mobile office?

What is a Traditional Construction Trailer?
Construction trailers and offices are factory built on a chassis with wheels and axels ready to tow to your site. It’s essentially the same idea as an RV as traditional construction trailers are offices with wheels that can be setup anywhere. These mobile office set-ups are familiar at construction sites, film sets, disaster relief, and any other location where you need a fully functioning office for a few days, weeks, or months. The office trailer remains on the chassis, and you access the office using steps or a ramp. You can have one built to order or rent a standard or luxury model for as long as necessary. You can have a conventional construction trailer using residential construction techniques or one with a more modern, laminated structure using a metal frame with glued-on laminated panels.

What is a Shipping Container Mobile Office?
Mobile offices are repurposed shipping containers, typically outfitted with doors, windows and electrical outlets to be used as a temporary office or workspace for anywhere it may be needed, most notably at construction sites. These mobile offices have the advantage that you can site them at ground level and even stack them for two stories.
You get all the standard office features with plumbing, insulation, electrical power, windows, and doors with plenty of flexibility in your modifications. The mobile office unit is adaptable to various uses, and you can link them together for a more flexible office layout. As a bonus, these offices are also extremely weather resistant!
What are the Differences?
Both the office trailer and the mobile office provide office space you can move from one site to another, but there are differences between the two. Some things to consider when deciding between trailer offices and mobile offices include price, space, durability, security, maintenance, flexibility in use and access.


Price The upfront costs for both types can be similar or different depending on the number of adaptions you need. Converting trailer from one use to another is more challenging and expensive than choosing a modified storage container. The cost depends on how much equipment and involvement you need to deliver the office to your site and prepare the location. Typically, the necessary steps required to access a traditional trailer are an extra cost.


Space The traditional trailer office is limited to the size of the chassis. You can't stack one trailer office on top of the other because of the wheels and it’s challenging to try and link them together. Mobile offices on the other hand are extremely versatile. You can have a two-story office and link modules together to create any size and shape of office or other working space for your needs.


Durability Typically, a trailer office will meet the building standards for a particular state, but you’ll need to ensure that you select a trailer office adapted for your state's climate. The lifespan of a trailer office also depends on the number of times it hits the road. However, every time you take it on the road, you add additional wear and tear depending on the road surface quality. The mobile offices win on durability since their external steel structure is robust and weather resistant. Shipping containers are transport modules and relocating them won’t significantly impact their useful life.


Security Both mobile offices come with similar levels of security for locking doors and windows. The walls of a trailer office have a traditional construction with either a steel or timber frame with vinyl sidings. These walls are relatively straightforward to cut through for the motivated intruder.
Shipping container offices have a high level of fire resistance compared with office trailers. The construction of shipping container office walls makes it challenging for breaking and requires specialist equipment. Plus, an arsonist can't build a fire underneath a shipping container office as these are typically at ground level.


Maintenance Maintaining a traditional trailer requires structural maintenance to keep the wheels and chassis roadworthy. A shipping container office is durable and requires minimal attention to prevent corrosion. They’re so easy to maintain you can easily do it yourself with a few tips.


Flexibility Trailer offices are factory-made to specific designs, and custom models may take longer to acquire and cost more. In contrast, mobile offices are versatile, flexible, and quick to customize for a unique office. Container offices also allow the flexibility to add to them by stacking if necessary.


Access Traditional construction trailers remain on their wheels and require steps for access. You can typically rent out steps or a ramp from the same company you rent the trailer from.

Shipping container offices sit on the ground for easy access by everyone. The doors open right into the office so there is no extra cost for accessibility.

Why Choose a Shipping Container Office over a Trailer Office?
When looking for an office at a construction site, you want something sturdy, reliable, and cost-efficient. Mobile offices are perhaps the best choice since:

① Shipping container offices are adaptable, giving you precisely what you need.
② Security and weather resistance are built-in perks with a shipping container office.
③ You can double your office space on a smaller footprint by stacking one shipping container on top of another.
④ Maintenance costs are less as you don't need to look after a chassis and set of wheels.
⑤ Speed of delivery – no need to wait for a factory build or road permits as shipping container offices are a hassle-free delivery.
⑥ Shipping container offices are durable and don't suffer significant wear and tear in transport to a new location.

A shipping container office is a more attractive long-term office solution on your site because it resembles more permanently built office structures. An office trailer will always look temporary, and the need to climb steps may be off-putting to some visitors.
How Can Help
You can trust our expert staff to help you find the best solution for your mobile office needs. has over four decades of experience in supplying, maintaining, and setting up shipping container offices and can advise and assist in every step of the process.

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