Over the last few years, a new wave of coworking is emerging that builds upon the hospitality industry. According to the Global Coworking Survey of Deskmag there were 13,800 coworking spaces and 1.2 million coworking members worldwide in 2017.
With digital nomads not only working in coworking spaces but also working from restaurants, coffee shops and hotels, hospitality businesses are rethinking and changing their business models. Hotels have responded by offering hospitable services and an international environment, with hotel lobbies becoming popular locations to work from. Hotels are transforming their business centres and meeting facilities into coworking spaces and introducing more shared spaces and common areas.
In addition, as stated previously, offices are not used during the evenings and in the weekends, which are the moments when hotels are generally busy. Hence, combining the two is using the available square meters more efficiently.
Howarth HTL suggests that we use ourselves this question before we decide to build a coworking hotel ;
“How can the concept of hotels and the concept of coworking spaces be combined to accommodate both the hotel guests and the coworkers?”
Take a moment to think about that and here are some suggestions from Howard HTL
Conceptual Variations & Must Haves
There are three variations seen in coworking hotels regarding the structure and design. A combination of a hotel and coworking spaces...
• ... where coworking is integrated in the social heart/ lobby with larger designated tables to work at, and lounges to enjoy free time or a drink, designed in such a way that business and leisure are not disturbing each other.
• ... where coworking spaces are integrated in the same building as the hotel, or vice versa, both with separate operations where a characteristic brand is combined with a more standard brand and where both share their facilities.
• ... where a strong hotel brand starts its own coworking brand or vice versa and integrates both brands in the same building and share services and facilities.
Another criterion for coworking hotels is that it should have a smart design. Just placing a table in a hotel lobby does not cut it. The design must incorporate multiple meanings/ functions in the same area.
Coworking Or Just Working
A coworking hotel needs a place for guests to work alone as well as work together. This can be in a vibrant place, as long as there are quiet areas available to conduct private conversations or work in silence. The combination should offer flexible and dedicated desk spaces and offer meeting rooms. These can be small-sized such as cubicles or larger.
Optionally, the combination of hotels and coworking spaces should offer private offices of different sizes for short term lease contracts. Smaller companies benefit from flexible lease contracts as they do not have the funds or future outlook to commit to a long-term lease for an office building.
Coworking hotels should create a community by facilitating entertainment and events. These can be social (e.g. live music or tournaments), functional (e.g. speakers, discussion panels) or a network event. These events should be hosted for the co-working community but could also attract locals. One of the main gains identified for guests, is meeting like- minded people they would probably not meet if they are staying at a regular hotel and it also offers them potential business opportunities.
Guests of coworking hotels seek mobility and connectivity, which can be provided by a national or even international geographical coverage and network, where members are free to work at any establishment.
The rooms should be designed for both short stay and long stay and of course feature a comfortable bed and a fully equipped bathroom. There should be a mixture of regular hotel rooms and serviced apartments or short-stay suites with kitchenettes.
In addition, as the main task identified for the guests of coworking hotels is to work and these guests prefer to have options, the rooms should have a proper workplace so that guests can choose where they work. Moreover, the bed should not be the centre furniture piece of the room, so the guests can choose to invite their collegues or clients into the room.
Food & Beverage
The food & beverage facilities at coworking hotels should be extensive and preferably have a full-service concept. As these guests need breakfast, lunch and dinner, it is necessary to provide choices for all meals. Additionally, locals will be attracted by a more extensive F&B offer.
The guests of coworking hotels want to make their own choices regarding their work-life balance. And, as the combination is a hybrid of working, sleeping and living, the research shows that these guests require places and facilities to relax and enjoy their leisure time as well. They want to play games, do sports, watch movies, but also have some social activity such as meeting with other people. Therefore, fitness facilities, a kitchen, a game room, a library or other facilities should be offered. In this way sleeping, living and working can all be integrated in the lives of the guests without losing time on commuting.
Furthermore, the coworking hotels should boast shared and communal mixed-use spaces. A social heart that is vibrant day-round should be designed. Considering and anticipating local market trends does not only interest travellers but also makes it attractive for locals to pay a visit. The social heart can have multiple functions, for example it can be mixed with a F&B function. The social heart should have an inspiring interior design and inspire both hotel guests and coworkers. It should be a place where the guests can have business appointments, extend their professional network by meeting other coworkers, as well as their personal network by meeting other travellers and locals.
In general, the future outlook is that functions of buildings and areas will merge and hold multiple functions. On the other hand, functions are shifting towards one another: office shifts more to hospitality, hospitality shifts more to office, living shifts more to hospitality, hospitality shifts more to living. Therefore, hotels and coworking spaces will be combined as well as remain separate establishments. Furthermore, both industries separate as well as combined, will show an increase in usage of technological aspects to enhance customer journeys.