A field office, frequently also referred to as a branch office, is generally part of a larger business operation, and may be one of a network of offices housing business facilities in remote locations. These offices serve several purposes. The most common one is the ability to provide physical access for people living in remote or widely spread geographical regions, so that they may conduct face-to-face visits with a company or agency's representatives. Other purposes for a field office include monitoring events in a field location, conducting scientific research, and meeting with suppliers or vendors.
Field offices serve several functional purposes for a business or an organization, and are very common in many areas of the world. For businesses, field offices may provide basic support facilities for sales personnel, or cut down travel time for clients and customers when negotiating deals. As an example, a salesman may share his or her time between several field offices, generally located in less populated areas, thereby achieving more face time with clients in a cost-effective manner. The need for a minimum amount of office support in remote locations can often be adequately served by a field office at much less expense than a full-service office would incur.
Business professionals who work in field offices usually are housed in an abridged version of what might be found at a company's headquarters. Instead of a full support staff, such as a typist, a receptionist, and an extensive waiting room, a field office might consist of a few chairs for clients, and a desk for a salesperson. Modern communication technology allows for the completion of many procedures previously done in a full-fledged office environment. As a result, personnel likely will not be hindered by working in a remote location, in terms of completing administrative tasks. A field office may also be used to test a new market prior to making a more extensive investment in infrastructure in a new location.
Scientists, environmentalists, and conservationists may also use field offices, as this allows outposts to be staffed at a fraction of the cost typically involved in staffing a traditional office. Some of these uses may be for enterprise purposes, such as conducting in-the-field research for testing a new device. Others may be early-stage scientific investments funded by a company.
Those who work as lighthouse tenders, forest rangers, or scientific researchers often use field offices to conduct their work. These types of field offices often function seasonally. Military organizations also staff field offices during military operations, and sometimes this is a strategic measure done to protect commercial enterprises.