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Work From Homers are the New Millennials

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And Every Hospitality Business Wants a Piece of the Action

Pre-Covid, we could always guarantee that two topics would come up in meetings with clients. Instagram strategy and millennial audiences. Whilst of course these crucial considerations remain valid today, it’s attracting the #WFH crowd that’s top of everyone’s agenda. And rightfully so.

According to the ONS, in April 46.6% of people were doing at least some work from home. Rising to 57.2% in London. Some estimates put the real number at 60%. 26% of the UK workforce is planning to work from home permanently. So it’s clear that companies across all industries are going to be doing so in greater and greater numbers.

Whilst this is bad news for businesses in commercial areas, it presents an opportunity for others. And this hasn’t gone unnoticed by the hospitality sector.

Quality of Work Doesn’t Mean Quality of Life

A survey conducted by found that 65% of workers said they were more productive at home. Whilst 83% of employees said that they didn’t need to be in an office to be productive. Employers agreed, with two-thirds reporting increased productivity amongst their teams.

Whilst good news for companies, the negative effects of increased isolation, longer working hours and loneliness must not be overlooked. A recent CNBC article quoted someone as saying “[working from home] sounds great, but they missed the informal conversations. ‘I wake up, go to my computer and work all day, teleconferencing, but don’t ever talk to people or see people’. One of the big things I heard was that ‘I miss human contact with co-workers’.” Nearly a quarter of remote workers also admitted to struggling to switch off when working from home.

With an “always-on” working culture already a part of our lives, the decisions companies of all shapes and sizes make over the coming months will be crucial to the wellbeing of their people. Not to mention the productivity of their organisations. Maybe even the success of their businesses.

Whatever happens, we must remember that the transition to flexible working won’t happen automatically. The litmus test for companies will be maintaining consistency and productivity whilst tailoring their policies to suit a variety of individual wants and needs. Fostering a culture of openness to further support employees will be central to success.

And for hospitality businesses of all shapes and sizes, this enormous market is ready and waiting to be offered solutions to some of the biggest challenges of our time. And to the largest shift in how the world works in a generation.

Here are some great examples of how businesses across hospitality have adapted to cater to this audience. Considering a number of models for how companies and their teams elect to work.

1. Flexible Spaces for Neighbourhood Working

The future is bright for businesses catering to the growing number of work-from-homers. Those looking for an alternative to their spare room or kitchen table. Whether for a few hours a day or a couple of days a week. In a destination neighbourhood that reconnects them to the world, or somewhere closer to home.

Hotels including The Stafford in St James are offering their rooms and suites to those looking for a peaceful and productive space to work. However, with rates for suites starting at £395/day - including a two-course lunch - it’s not exactly within reach of the average displaced white-collar worker. And stateside, hotel day-let booking platform Day Use is also getting in on the action. Connecting hotel rooms with local #WFH professionals in New York City including at more accessible prices.

Whether the temptations of a nap in a comfy bed, a long bath, and a day’s Netflix and chill can be overcome remain to be seen. But needless to say, we’ll be watching this all very closely.

Back in our neck of the woods and we’re excited to check out The Tramshed Project on Shoreditch’s Rivington Street. The site has relaunched as “an interdisciplinary food and working space” that “is built to outlast the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic”. With Street Feast founder Dominic-Cools Lartigue at the helm, and opening collaborations from Andrew Clarke, Zoe Adjonyoh, and James Cochran we’re confident the food will live up to expectations.

2. Working Weekenders

More working from home inevitably means more zoom calls, less movement, and less real-life interaction. Forward-thinking businesses know this and have stepped up to the plate. Offering some great solutions that combine time for work, rest, and play in one fell swoop.

Recently awarded The Times Hotel of the Year Birch give you a Sunday night stay on the house when booking in for Friday and Saturday. Guests are encouraged to “come early and leave late”. And with more spaces and activities than anyone could feasibly do of a weekend, the thought of a wellness-focused weekend sandwiched between two days of working from the rural idyl is an appealing proposition.

(just please don’t use the word Rurban - rural/urban in case you were wondering)

3. Work from Anywhere

Ed’s summer in Mallorca has opened our eyes to the possibilities that exist for individuals and teams to up-sticks and head for sunnier climbs. Doing so for regular stints without the need to join the global nomad brigade saying a permanent goodbye to city life. Judging by Ed’s recent interview by The Guardian, we’re not alone.

US co-living brand Outsite is a great example of a business looking to cater to this inevitably high-growth sector. Offering rooms and a ready-made community in a variety of downtown locations across Europe and the US. Specifically targeting remote workers and creatives.

4. The future of the office

So is the office as we know it a thing of the past? We were chatting to a large commercial developer recently who was buoyant about the future of occupancy in their buildings. However, they acknowledge that the makeup of spaces is likely to change.

Banks of desks are likely to make way for more meeting and workshop space; activities that remain challenging when done remotely. They predict this is likely to be accompanied by more ‘touch down’ flexible working spaces, lounges, hot desks, and improved food and drink offerings.

Mark Dixon, chief executive of IWG was quoted in this article as saying “This global crisis has dramatically changed the ways companies will work. In the new world of working post-Covid-19, offices will still be needed but there will be a greater requirement for more flexible space. Some of the big banks are thinking about it, Facebook – it’s pretty universal.”

A “hub and spoke” model is likely to emerge, where smaller satellite offices in suburbs and less urban locations feed a central office in more traditional commercial, city-centre hubs.

Could this also lead more corporate sectors into smaller, independent ‘micro-working’ spaces such as Dalston’s Snackbar? The east London café with two private studios to rent on the floors above. With their brilliant cafe menu delivered from the floor below, it’s easy to see how food and drink continue to be central to workspace offers and their appeal to potential tenants.