Pre-pandemic, companies like WeWork made money providing a new form of the office for the rising army of workers no longer tied to one employer but who wanted to ‘go to work’ some of the time.
With no one traveling, employment precarious and people financially worried, instead of asking for a monthly office rental commitment, where people share space with strangers, it makes more sense to turn hotels into day offices.
Where people can socialise as little or as much as they like, where they can use the facilities which already exist and help hotels bounce back from the pandemic.
It’s not a new idea but it’s one that’s gaining ground.
The pandemic has completely blurred the lines between work and home
CB Insights recently ran a cartoon showing a man asking his wife, “do I work at home or do I live at work?”. It’s a common everyday problem, post pandemic.
Work was increasingly becoming blurred between home life and work–office days were long and people often had to deal with work during their home ‘hours’.
It has taken a pandemic to hurl our working lives the other way, and now–with a larger proportion of people working from home–we have new battles to contend with.
Work is always with us, but without a commute, many of the more fortunate have more free time. Incidentally, families are forced together for longer periods, without being tied to physical locations.
Both of these issues open up gaps in the new work market.
We still need a place to find work friends
British people often worked the longest hours in Europe–as reported by The Economist–and for them, the pandemic has been a reprieve from incredibly long days after very long commutes. Despite losing a sadness over losing office culture, many don’t want to go back to how it was before.
However, according to The Atlantic, workplaces are important for finding friends. In a 2018 survey conducted by Olivet Nazarene University, 82 percent of respondents reported having at least one work friend. Nearly 30 percent said that they had a work best friend. Some of these extend beyond 9-5 hours and into what they call, “real friend” territory.
Gallup research tells us that close work friends can increase fulfilment, productivity, and even company loyalty; conversely, loneliness at work can negatively impact upon professional and personal well-being.
Right now, people need companionship more then ever as they struggle to juggle the most stressful time of their professional careers combined with national movements about racial identity, climate change, and gaping unemployment figures. Low-level friendships are likely to miss out from not heading to an office every day.
Hotels can provide these workspaces/classrooms
Many upscale hotels are now offering new work packages. The Rosewood Miramar Beach hotel in Montecito, California, has a remote office package, transforming your beachfront suite into an office with everything down to the paperclips. When finished, they’ll take it all away again so guests can enjoy the six restaurants and fully serviced beach. The same is true for Reeds, in Stone Harbour New Jersey on the other side of the country.
The Lodge at Blue Sky in Park City, Utah is offering a virtual classroom for the kids, followed by kids camp involving horse riding or fishing, while parents work onsite.
Hotels are offering day rooms, set up for offices
Hotel Figueroa, which was founded in Los Angeles as a safe haven for lone female travelers almost a century ago–and known locally as “the Fig”–remained open during the pandemic to house essential health workers. It recently launched its Work Perks Subscription Program offering out some of the hotel’s 268 rooms as day-use offices.
As reported by CNN, Managing Director Connie Wang says that it provides the perfect opportunity to get out of the house in “clean, quiet and socially distanced spaces that come with high-speed WiFi, unlimited printing privileges and free parking”.
It’s a good business model for many hotels across the U.S. where business is reported to have decreased by 50% since the beginning of the year.
Hotels have added benefits which office space can’t provide
Unlike WeWork, or other office space, which follows a rental subscription model, paying by the month, hotels have two main advantages in that there is no need to require people to pay by the month (although they could if they wanted to) and they can offer a bed for the night if people want to stay. The Fig offers a night stay at just $20 more.
The Wythe, in Brooklyn, New York, is offering rooms for 4 people to share as an office, with a terrace, where dogs are welcome.
Other hotels offer rooms until 4pm until they may be taken by other customers for the night–the Hamilton Hotel in Washington DC offers its 318 rooms under such a basis on its Home-Away-From-Home Office package. The price is $109 (about $25 less than the nightly rate).
As CNN points out, it’s not a new business model, to rent out unused rooms by the day. HotelsByDay was founded in 2015 and has itself seen an uptick in demand for daily room rentals.
But one of the biggest advantages of hotel rooms, unlike office space, is sanitary, in that there is no need to share space, in particular kettles, sinks and bathrooms, until they are cleaned and ready for the next worker.