Finding the right space to work from can be frustrating, particularly if you’ve just landed in an unfamiliar city. It’s not always easy to tell whether a coworking space is in a good location, how much it costs or even if it offers day passes just from scrolling through Google Maps listings. That’s why more and more people are skipping them entirely and working from hotel lobbies.
I know this because I’ve spent the last five years talking to these people. As Commercial Manager and then Commercial Director at Zoku Amsterdam, I learned a lot about the new creative class of urban professionals. They hop from city to city working remotely wherever they go, or operate as freelancers picking and choosing projects as they tour the world’s trendiest Wi-Fi hotspots.
At Zoku, we called them Global Nomads. And the more of them I met, the more convinced I became that they are pioneers of a trend that will transform the hospitality industry.
The internet has decoupled work from location. Tools like Slack, Google Drive and Skype mean that most creative jobs can now be done from anywhere. That’s why the number of remote workers is rising. According to the European Commission, 25 million workers in the EU are already working remotely most of the time.
If you’ve never had the privilege before, the idea of doing your work while sitting at home in your pants may sound great. The reality is more complicated. Around a fifth of remote workers struggle with loneliness, and that’s not the only downside.
Working in the same place where you eat, sleep and play means there is no psychological breathing room between activities. Around 22% of remote workers find it difficult to unplug from their jobs.
It sucks to be trapped in your home feeling like you should be working when it’s the middle of the night, but it does happen. Even people who can work from anywhere need a place to go to find their flow. But are coworking spaces the best place to go?
In London, New York and Singapore hotels are already the hottest coworking spaces. Just take a look at The Hoxton in Shoreditch or PUBLIC in Lower Manhattan. Set in buzzing creative neighbourhoods, these hotels are hotter destinations than the dozens of coworking spaces around them.
So what do hotels get right where coworking spaces fail?
Well, for starters, Global Nomads don’t work 9-to-5 and yet many coworking spaces only open during normal office hours. Hotels, on the other hand, are always 24/7 with staff onsite. Usually there are meeting rooms, as well as a pretty good restaurant or cafe too.
With hotel lobbies already having the right amenities in place, the question isn’t why would people cowork in them. The question is: why would hotels allow them to?
In many hotels, especially business hotels, the lobby area can often become a bit of a graveyard. Yesterday’s guests check-out before 09:00 and tonight’s won’t arrive until 17:00. This wasted space is an untapped asset for the hospitality industry.
Filling lobbies with freelancers, consultants and remote workers opens up new revenue streams for the hotel. When people are working hard they don’t want to disrupt their flow to eat lunch or source their next caffeine hit. They’ll likely grab the nearest thing.
Hotels can also monetize more directly by charging for day passes, which few coworking spaces can facilitate. This is a strategy that works for locations that are already optimized for coworkers, but may deter people from trying out the space in the first place. It also becomes another thing hotel staff have to police.
Whatever the strategy is, the benefits are clear. The hotel feels less like an “embassy in a city”, where only internationals go, but devoid of locals. It brings a vibrancy to the space and increases the potential for serendipity, improving the overall experience of guests and coworkers alike.
Nearly every hotel has a lobby. Often these are strange little spaces with awkward sofas and wilting plants. It’s clear for me that tomorrow’s lobbies will be unrecognizable from the ones we see today. They will inspire creativity, facilitate deep focus and foster productive collaboration.
The hotels that lead this transformation today will be the hotels that etch their identity into the hearts of the next generation of successful business travelers. If your brand wants to be one of them, get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m David Kijlstra, and I’ve spent the past decade working with innovative companies across the hospitality and coworking sectors. My passion is developing commercial strategies that help ambitious brands shape a unique vision, thrive in their marketplace, and drive growth and connection with their customers. With a background in hotels, coworking spaces, and serviced offices, I’ve created award-winning sales strategies and delivered game-changing marketing strategies.