WHY HOTELS & CO -WORKING ARE A PERFECT MATCH
There was a time when a ‘Business Centre’ was an essential service offered by hotels (3 star and above). Often tucked away at the back of the lobby it was a room for sending a fax or accessing a computer.
Now that we all carry our computers around in our pockets, the business traveller, and in fact every traveller, is most concerned with accessing WIFI.
Providing great internet connectivity for all their guests, some hotels have explored how they can combine this with their under-utilised space during the day, to provide a service for workers. Even before the pandemic many hotels were taking steps to create coworking space in empty lobbies. Some had noticed how popular their comfy sofas had become with business-people who would drop in for a coffee and catch up with emails. Providing facilities to keep them there longer was the next logical step.
Hotels which currently have co-working space available:
What is co-working space?
Unlike a traditional office space, coworking is unlikely to be occupied solely by people from the same company. A flexible space with a mixture of desks, sofas, meeting rooms and private spaces, it’s used by the growing number of freelancers, entrepreneurs, and small businesses. Occupants of co-working space expect additional facilities such as a coffee shop, cycle storage, showers. It also provides an opportunity to network and socialise with like-minded business-people.
Who wants to work in a co-working space?
According to IPSE (Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed) there were 2.2 million freelancers in the UK in 2020. Freelancers represent the biggest coworking demographic in the world (Deskmag) at around 41%. A close second is corporate workers at 36%. Freelancers, start-ups, and entrepreneurs can manage costs by avoiding the financial commitment of a fixed office. It offers them somewhere to connect with other freelancers, socialise or find space free from distraction. For corporate workers, co-working may allow them to ‘work near home’ rather than commute to a central HQ every weekday.
The ‘Hub and Spoke’ model is one which has become increasingly popular. Workers can choose to work at least some of the time, outside of the central office but still in a suitable workspace. The ‘spokes’ might be dedicated, out of town offices or they may be in co-working space.
What about working from home?
There has been a huge increase in people working from home in the last year and many still want to do this. But not everyone’s home environment is conducive to productive work.
One of the main challenges is the lack of a suitable workstation at home i.e., a separate, dedicated office space or appropriate furniture. Sometimes access to a secure and fast internet connection can be a problem, especially in more rural parts of the country. Other issues stem from distractions at home e.g., caring for children and feelings of isolation from not connecting with colleagues in-person.
What do hotels offer co-workers?
Hospitality and co-working are a perfect match. So many amenities already exist in hotel space - access to gym, spa treatment rooms, café, bar, outdoor terraces etc. The interiors of hotels are usually warm, inviting spaces with a good atmosphere and attractive décor.
Hotels that can offer a variety of workspaces – relaxing lounge area for social connection, private areas for focused work – will be most appealing for workers.
For hotels this is a great opportunity to increase revenue or build brand awareness. Coworking community GCUC reports that the top five co-working space companies in the world account for only 14% of the market. The larger percentage therefore remains in the hands of smaller companies and independents. With traditionally quiet weekdays, hotels can earn additional revenue through charging fees to co-workers who wish to use their workspace and may use cafes, bars, gyms whilst there. Hotels also feel that there is an opportunity to build brand loyalty.
Co-workers who have a positive experience using the workspace may be more inclined to book a hotel in this chain when travelling.
As we transition back to the workplace but with new working practices, this is a hospitality trend that we believe will continue to evolve and grow.