Hotel companies have realized work is no longer set in a confined cubicle/office for 8 hours a day, and that their common public spaces have been often used as coworking areas.
Following this behavior and looking to get a piece of this market, many hotels have started offering temporary spaces for rent to those many who fit the profile.
The Ace Hotel New
York, GFI Hospitality property, has become a good example when it comes to
communal work/play spaces, attracting an eclectic mix of artists, entrepreneurs
and freelancers. Joel Rosen, president of hotel development group GFI
Hospitality, said that “the Ace lobby really became a living room for the
community… People come in to have a coffee and socialize but also to work. We
want people to sit in our lobbies and congregate and create that sense of space
and sense of place.”
According to Christina Jelski from
Travel Weekly, Accor became “the biggest hospitality player to officially jump
onto this space” by launching the coworking concept Wojo. With expectations to
become the “leading
coworking brand in Europe” by 2022, the hotel brand intends to have 1,200
locations in less than three years.
Accor has 80 Wojo Spots and Corners at their properties. According to Stephane
Bensimon, Wojo’s president and CEO, the company offers three types of
locations: Wojo Spots, Wojo
Corners and Wojo Sites.
largely consists of hotel bars, restaurants and lobbies where Wojo subscribers
can work, even if they’re not staying at the hotel, and enjoy guaranteed access
to secure WiFi and other hotel amenities. Not every Wojo Spot will be located
within an Accor property, however; the company is also eyeing Spot
opportunities in shopping centers, railway stations, airports and art
Wojo Corners: dedicated coworking spaces spanning a minimum
of 1,076 square feet and located within Accor hotels.
standalone coworking centers, each comprising tens of thousands of square feet
and combining communal bars, lounges and kitchens with shared workspaces, meeting
rooms and dedicated offices.
Another player entering this field is
the Ennismore Capital’s Hoxton hotel brand
which will be launching its coworking product: Working From. With eight hotels
across Europe and the U.S., the Hoxton will inaugurate Working From spaces in
its Chicago and Southwark (London) properties in November 2019 and January 2020
respectively. The Southwark’s location will occupy six floors, offering 744
desks, five meetings rooms, a wellness studio with daily classes, a garden, and
quiet booths for making private calls. The Chicago unit will have 294 desks,
two meetings rooms and two terraces.
InterContinental Hotels Group’s Crowne Plaza is another company investing in coworking spaces throughout its properties. Their own Plaza Workspace areas have been in use since 2017 and are designed to offer a mix of communal work areas, semiprivate meetings areas, semiprivate seats and a marketplace stocked with grab-and-go drinks and snacks. While this is free and open to the public, the product includes Studio: a private paid meeting room with both work and leisure areas within Plaza Workspace.
Such coworking products launched by hotel companies have raised both positive and negative concerns. While Sharan Pasricha, Ennismore CEO, defends that “travelers are looking for hotels that fit their workstyles and offer more than just a bed for the night… I think just like people have hotels they know and love, people will have the same with shared workspaces and desks around the globe.”
Filipa Pajevic, a Ph.D. candidate at McGill University’s School of Urban Planning in Montreal, points out that “coworking has already been happening at hotels, in the sense that they’ve already been providing people a place to work while they’re away from their official workplace or home… So for hotels to say, ‘Look, we’re also going to offer coworking spaces,’ I don’t know if that’s going to necessarily go well. You’re asking me to now pay extra for something that I’ve already been doing in your hotel for free.”
Time will tell if the idea will be a success or not.
Sources: travelweekly.com, “Working Model” by Christina Jelski.