With the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, the world kept going by remote workforces. While offices are opening up once again, the high level of remote work remains as companies and their staff discovered how possible it was. In 2021, the amount of permanent remote work actually doubled from pre-pandemic levels.
As office walls have come down, it’s common to see people working in airports, coffee shops, and hotel lobbies. Some hotels, accustomed to pivoting their business operations in recent years, are tapping into this trend by creating purpose-built coworking spaces—not only to attract workationers but local remote workers as well. It’s yet another way to diversify revenues without necessarily needing a ton of investment.
Can your hotel tap into the coworking space trend? Learn more about what’s involved, see what your hotel can do to develop a coworking space, and look at some real-life examples of coworking spaces in hotels around the world.
Hotel Coworking Spaces: a Natural Progression
The appeal of working remotely is working from literally anywhere with Wi-Fi. This has opened up the workation market for those seeking a change of scenery and combining sightseeing with their day-to-day business work. We recently wrote about how hotels can attract workationers and digital nomads, but hotel coworking spaces are another strong trend that deserves its own article.
Coworking spaces are emerging worldwide and while there is a lot of variation, they mainly offer shared workplaces, private desks, Wi-Fi, comfortable seating, and the opportunity to meet other people and network. Generally, coworking spaces are independent operations—the most famous of which being WeWork—that are accessible by memberships or a drop-in fee.
But as some clever hotels have noticed, their shared spaces have been used as coworking spaces organically for years. While private hotel rooms with well-equipped work desks do well to attract business travelers and workationers, remote workers seeking to escape isolation may find solace in the hubbub of a hotel lobby. In fact, with the growth of the remote workforce, hotels are noticing it’s not just guests tapping into their free Wi-Fi and shared spaces. So when we see hotels creating purpose-built coworking spaces, it seems like a natural progression—especially for hotels seeking creative initiatives to boost their bottom line in a travel market left languishing after lengthy lockdowns and travel restrictions.
Hotel Coworking Spaces: Industry Examples
There are numerous examples of mainstream hotels dipping their coworking toes into this market. While there are some shared fundamentals, there is also great variation, proving that there is no one-size-fits-all model you must adhere to. There’s great flexibility in what a hotel can offer based on their space and market.
At their most basic, coworking spaces include: shared tables, free wireless internet, and charging stations. Other than that, the rest is up to your imagination!
TRYP by Wyndam Dubai
TRYP by Wyndam Dubai boasts being the first international hotel chain to offer a coworking space. NEST has a relaxed coffee shop vibe and provides complimentary tea and coffee, unlimited snacks, access to sound-proof call pods, valet parking, and gym access! Not to mention an eclectic vibe with shared tables. It’s not free but members also receive room and dining discounts. NEST attracts locals and business travelers alike for networking opportunities with a startup vibe.
Working From by The Hoxton
The Hoxton hotel in London and Chicago—with their comfortable sofas—has been a coworking hub since 2006, unofficially. It’s the perfect example of the natural progression hotels are making to leverage what’s already popular. The Hoxton leveled up their upmarket offerings with Working From—a coworking space, still with comfy sofas, but with the addition of offices, desks, meeting rooms, and shared tables as well. Monthly memberships tap into the local remote-work market and day passes appeal to their business travelers with free coffee and tea, and even daily wellness classes.
Coworking at Scandic
Scandic Hotels throughout Scandinavia boast coworking spaces with Scandic hotel extras. We love how they amplify their expertise in the hospitality industry to accentuate their coworking prowess. For example, rates include a “hotel breakfast” and “friendly staff” that their hotels are known for. It has that feeling that you’re on workation even if you’re at home. Unique to Scandic is their hotel room offices. In addition to shared coworking spaces and private meeting rooms, private hotel rooms for one can be rented from 8am – 6pm, Monday to Friday (feel free to take a midday nap). A coworking pass gives members access to all 270 coworking spaces at their properties throughout Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Norway, plus Germany and Poland.
The Living Room at the Moxy in NYC by Marriott
The Living Room at the Moxy in NYC by Marriott has an ingenious setup. A lounge by night, the Living Room was underutilized during the day so it was opened as a coworking space. It’s the perfect example of how to give multi-functionality to existing spaces. In addition to plenty of places to plug in, the space lends itself perfectly for mixing business with pleasure, featuring skee-ball, shuffleboard, and Ms. Pacman—not to mention small sharing plates and cocktails.
How to Create a Coworking Space at Your Hotel
You may notice people already using your hotel’s public spaces for work. Why not make it official?
Much to consider
In addition to appraising your guest segments, we can’t stress enough the importance of conducting a business analysis—like a SWOT analysis—to ensure this is a viable option for your hotel. Some considerations include:
- Identify the opportunity, your hotel space, and your market to target workationers, regional remote workers, digital nomads, as well as startups and small businesses.
- The cost to implement ample charging stations and other design changes.
- The space to offer coworking desks and private spaces—can you repurpose or create a multi-functional space like The Living Room?
- What perks will entice your target market to come to your hotel’s coworking space? (For example, free coffee and tea, pool/gym use, and meal discounts.)
- Ongoing staffing and operational costs.
Hotel and coworking partnerships
While creating a coworking space makes good business sense for some hotels, others may be stretched by the operational aspects that come with it. In which case, working in partnership with coworking providers could be a good fit. For example, Accor works with hotel partners to create pop-up offices across the globe while taking care of logistics—to the benefit of the hotel and their guests—as part of their larger scheme to provide guests with augmented hospitality.
To charge or not to charge
Charging for memberships or drop-in day use can increase your hotel’s revenue. But is it essential to charge? Not necessarily. It depends on your space and what you can offer. Instead, you may decide a more modest coworking space (needing less investment) can be used as a marketing hook to attract workationers. Inviting locals to use your space—for free—may result in revenue earned from your other services, such as coffee and restaurant purchases.
Is a coworking space right for your hotel? Only you will know for sure. Chances are remote workers are already using your hotel’s public spaces as their workplace! Instead of jumping in whole hog, it may be easier to test the coworking waters by incorporating ways to capture revenue from those already using your hotel, for example, with a coffee bar, grab-and-go lunches, and meeting room rentals.
Your property management system can help you manage a coworking space with a point-of-sale module for a-la-carte offerings, and hourly bookings for meeting room rentals. Or imagine a “workation package” that includes business services and perks to upsell to digital nomads at the reservation stage.
As the saying goes, if the shoe fits, wear it. If your hotel is looking for creative ways to repurpose hotel spaces while increasing revenues and you already have people coworking within your walls, it could be the perfect fit!