As workers everywhere adapt to new working patterns, some forward-thinking businesses are flexing their premises to generate important, additional income from the newly remote workforce.
The pandemic has pressed fast-forward on what is being dubbed the work-from-anywhere phenomenon. Businesses that previously had no relation to the world of work are recognising that how we work has changed for good, and that their business model can adapt accordingly. Retail outlets, shopping malls, hotels, service stations, golf clubs, leisure centres – if people spend time in an environment, why can’t they also work from that same location?
This is not a case of shoe-horning a few seats and tables into a drafty corner and hoping individuals take notice. Businesses looking seriously at this work-from-anywhere model want to get it right. And they’re finding that getting it right can be quick, simple and inexpensive.
The key ingredients are excellent coffee, reliable high-speed Wi-Fi and a working space that is mindful and conducive to productivity. This doesn’t mean ripping out fittings and building from scratch. Ready-made work pods exist – seating spaces that are acoustically designed to dampen sound and which deliver comfort and privacy without isolating users.
The addition of just one such pod can immediately redefine a space and change the way a customer interacts with a business. The addition of many can completely transform a space and a business. Some of these pods are built on wheels too, giving facility managers the ability to effortlessly change-up the space as customer usage patterns dictate.
So why is this work-from-anywhere approach taking off?
The fact that we’re not commuting back and forth to the office at the moment means we all have more time. Rather than rigidly sticking to the 9-5, we are working to new rhythms – rhythms that will change from one person to the next. We have more control than ever before over our working hours and the leadership team are recognising that as long as work gets done – to deadline and to the same high standard – it really doesn’t matter when it’s done, or from where.
Working from home can be convenient, but it also presents major challenges in terms of space, focus, comfort and work-life balance. For customer-facing businesses in sectors such as leisure, retail or hospitality there is a real demand for premises to offer more in terms of workplace functionality.
Take hotels as an example. Attracting local professionals to drink and eat at the hotel can generate important extra revenue. Previously, these potential local customers may have felt too time-strapped to be able to leave work behind and visit. Or they have been put off by the lack of a work-ethos in the space.
With the introduction of professional work-hubs to the hotel this same potential customer-base can complete work tasks on site and enjoy the hotel’s refreshments whilst remaining productive. This is a long way removed from trying to balance a laptop on a low coffee-table in the noisy hotel lobby or restaurant/bar area. Work can be completed in a calm and purpose-designed environment.
Offering this mindful and dexterous work-on-site facility can also be a key differentiator when attempting to attract business travellers. Rather than simply working at a desk in the bedroom, professionals can catch-up on tasks in a space built for productivity and can confidently use the hotel as a base for meetings and conversations.
There is no longer a requirement for hotels to dedicate entire rooms for meeting-space – rooms which are typically inefficient and underused. Instead, workpods can be wheeled into any usable area of the building to create instant meeting hubs.
Some of the larger hotel chains are even looking at external pop-up lounges, whereby pods are located in transit hubs, retail spaces and anywhere with high visibility and regular footfall. Then these pods – which are either owned or rented by the hotel chain – are branded to the hotel and enable the chain to add broader services to ‘members’ and drive additional growth and revenue.
The way we work is changing for good. Many firms have announced that they will permanently offer remote working as an option – this is not a situation that will reverse once the pandemic is over. For customer-facing businesses – many of whom will have taken a financial hit during this testing year – the opportunity to add new revenue streams is very attractive. Customers will quickly see through token-efforts – if businesses want to embrace the work-from-anywhere model they must create an environment that succeeds in promoting mindful productivity.
The demand is there. So are the solutions. Flexing your service offering has never been easier; or more important.
David O’Coimin, founder of Nook
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