The Washington Post (free registration required) writes about a mall in Plano, Texas, that is building essentially an office away from the office, designed to recreate the way road warriors work: A 2,400 square feet area at the Shops at Willow Bend will offer free Wi-Fi, printers, live news, conference tables, loaner laptops, and actual cubicles. The companies backing the experiment, including Best Buy, IBM, Microsoft, Panasonic, and Cisco want to see if this type of environment, which offers more than just a wireless connection in a cafe, is attractive to mobile workers. Kinko's says that traveling business people already have shown they like that type of environment. Kinko's is attracting so many laptop users with its Wi-Fi network that it is considering offering coffee, newscasts, and conference tables.
If the price is right, these are interesting ideas for offering an office away from the office for business travelers. Sometimes meeting in a casual cafe atmosphere works but at other times a more professional atmosphere may work better.