Co-founder & CEO of Anyplace.
Covid-19 has changed the way people work and the way real estate properties are used — most notably, with remote working. Covid-19 has led many companies to embrace remote work, with tech giants like Google extending (paywall) remote work policies until the summer of 2021. Companies like Facebook, Twitter, Square and Zillow have allowed their employees to work remotely permanently. With millions of people now conducting their business away from an office setting, remote work is likely to remain more prevalent in society after the coronavirus passes. In this context, there has been an interesting change in the way people use hotels.
Working In A Hotel
Many people have been working from home for months since Covid-19 became serious and citywide lockdowns were put in place. However, some have said that they are tired of working from home. Working in the same place day in and day out can be stressful because the line between one’s personal and professional lives is blurred. While it’s great for families with children to be able to interact, it is not always easy to work in the same space.
To solve such problems, a growing segment of remote workers have started using hotels as offices. They don’t stay overnight at the hotel, but they rent a hotel room during the daytime hours and work there. In fact, the Stafford Hotel in London has started offering (paywall) remote working packages — quiet and comfortable rooms. The European hotel group Accor offers a hotel office plan, while the Hotel Figueroa in Los Angeles offers its own version called Work Perks.
Living In A Hotel
Remote work has also made it possible to work from anywhere, which is why an increasing number of digital nomads are working while living in hotels. With the ability to work remotely, many people are considering a move out of the Bay Area and big cities like New York. According to survey of thousands of tech workers conducted in May 2020, two-thirds are considering moving out of the Bay Area.
I’ve been living the digital nomad life for two years now and frequently use hotels for my extended stays in cities around the world. In my experience, working in a different environment is a nice change of pace, and working in a quiet room helps me focus. Slow travel also allows me to experience the local culture in a way that I wouldn’t be able to do on a traditional short trip of a few days to a week.
Hotels also have a rationale for wanting to accommodate longer-term travelers. Covid-19 has created vacancies, and hotels want to fill them with long-term guests. The leading Hyatt hotel chain has recently announced its Work From Hyatt plan, offering discounts and free high-speed Wi-Fi for stays of seven days or more. It has launched a promotion directly catered toward slow travelers who live and work in hotels. Selina, a hotel brand with more than 22,000 beds in popular nomadic destinations throughout Latin America and Europe, released Nomad Passport, a plan that allows guests to stay in multiple locations for a flat rate. Other hotel brands will surely create similar offerings in the coming months, too.
Remote Friendliness Is Key
In my experience as a digital nomad, there are several ways that hotels attract remote workers.
1. Work environment: A large desk with an adjustable height, ergonomic chair and high-speed Wi-Fi are big differentiators in attracting remote workers. Many remote workers and digital nomads think that the desks and chairs provided by hotels are just for looks and the hotel’s Wi-Fi is too slow — and most are right. It’s expensive to change the furniture in every room, so I recommend testing out a remote work-friendly offer in a few of your rooms first. Another option is to convert some or all of the lobby into a coworking space.
2. Quietness and comfort: Your hotel’s ability to provide more tranquility and comfort than an office is one of its strengths. Working in a private room allows workers to focus without being disturbed. Also, hotels don’t have to worry about the availability of phone booths for Zoom calls and meetings. The temperature of the room can be adjusted with controlled air conditioning, so remote workers can always work in the best environment for them. If hotels provide quiet rooms and proper ventilation systems, they will attract remote workers with a better experience than a typical office.
3. Amenities and benefits: It’s not uncommon for remote workers to previously have worked in coworking spaces with various amenities. It’s only natural for these workers to compare their coworking space offering with those of hotels. If hotels offer similar amenities to coworking spaces, they can attract some of the coworking demographic and offer even more value to workers unaccustomed to amenities. For example, making the pool and gym available to remote workers would be something many traditional office spaces would struggle to compete with. It would also add value to offer coffee or tea in each room or in the lobby.
It’s important to ensure any changes you make at your hotel follow the local government’s Covid-19 guidelines. As this new way of working remotely continues and becomes more common, the way hotels are used will likely change to meet the needs of the remote worker. Adapting to their needs will help to compensate for the loss of sales due to the decline in short-stay customers. There’s no doubt we will continue to see innovative approaches to using hotels and real estate properties in the future.