Could hotels become the new hubs for hybrid work?
The past 18 months have blurred the line between home and office as kitchen tables become meeting rooms and closets become desks. Remote workers chopped up pieces of their home to create workspaces wherever they could. Hybrid workplaces need to adapt accordingly, bringing a touch of home into office design. The unique opportunity for office owners to make the hybrid workspace more warm and welcoming is already seized by the hospitality industry, bringing a formidable new competitor in the office sector.
Like it or not, workers want a hybrid workplace. It depends on who you ask, but investigation after investigation, workers want hybrid offices. Gensler’s Global Workplace Survey, polling 10,000 office workers in the US, UK, France and Australia, found that the majority of workers in every country were in favor of a hybrid working model. The GoodHire survey found that 68% of Americans would choose remote work over being in the office full time. Workers don’t just want hybrid work, they demand it: 74% of Americans said they needed a remote work agreement to stay in their current job. The ball is now in employers’ court to deliver the type of hybrid office that employees demand. If they don’t, hotels will.
Hybrid workspaces need to be more than flexible, they need to feel right at home. Flexible workspaces offer different rooms and workspaces, but they’re not exactly hybrid. Hybrid working is related to remote working, so by definition, a hybrid workspace in the office should at least somewhat mirror the remote workspace of an employee at home. No place can partially replicate someone’s home, but they can work to provide the same level of comfort. Seems familiar? For centuries, hotels have tried to make guests feel more at home. Offices have been behaving more like hotels for years, but the rapid shift to remote work is leading designers and managers to remove even more pages from hoteliers’ guest books as the hospitality industry rushes to do the same with office providers.
On-demand services help employees feel more connected to their daily lives outside of the office, which is difficult to do when you’re stuck in traditional work patterns. The term office hotelier is a misnomer for the type of changes that owners pursue. The hotel industry as it is currently understood is an economic model, reserving an office or a room in advance for the day. This understanding of hospitality is essential to hybrid working, allowing employees to reserve desks at their desks when they know they want to come. But the hybrid office hotel industry must also evolve to offer the types of services and comforts offered to make customers feel more comfortable. . Planning technology and applications are essential to hybrid work and office hospitality logistics, but it is only part of a full-service hospitality business model. Too often, âhotelâ offices are even more bland than the traditional workspaces they replaced, offering less space and fewer services.
Office owners refusing to turn their buildings into hotels may miss the opportunity as hotels strive to turn their buildings into offices. To make up for lost income from depressed travel during the pandemic, major hotel chains have launched co-working and workspace programs. Marriott, Hyatt, and Hilton have both started redeveloping some rooms into offices, renting them out by the day. The difference between a hotel counter in an office and an office room in a hotel is night and day. Hotels are putting all of the thoughtful design they are known for into their booming office spaces, providing guests with spacious desks, ergonomic chairs, a place to nap, fast Wi-Fi, and a clean and friendly environment. without distraction. Plus, room service is available for workers 24 hours a day. Better yet, most hotels have linked their workspaces to their rewards program so workers can earn points for vacations and stays. leisure while working.
Hybrid workspaces in hotels pose a growing threat to traditional offices that owners need to learn from. Some even enter into agreements with coworking providers. Flexible workspace provider Industrious has extended its co-working platform to include the use of converted rooms at the Wythe Hotel in New York City. In an era of dire office leasing, losing office tenants to hotels is the unthinkable reality that landlords now face. Hotels as offices are exploding, with many hotels already considering making new hybrid workspaces a permanent offering.
âWe have created comfortable, safe and functional spaces for workers, while our hotel partners help provide that extra element of warmth and service,â Anna Squires Levine, Industrious Commercial Director, told Skift. “This combination of ‘special sauce’ has resulted in a truly unique offering that makes customers want to come back to the spaces regularly and is ultimately the best testament to the success of these partnerships.”
Upscale offices have been teeming with amenities to gain a competitive advantage for years, but now hybrid work is forcing office owners to view amenities and comfort as a necessity rather than a luxury. Thinking about the well-being of the people in the building rather than the well-being of the building area itself is a paradigm shift for many office owners, a shift accelerated by the push for hybrid work. Now, being in the office isn’t so much about the space provided for workers as it is about what can be done while you’re there. Employees love to work remotely because of everything they can do around the house, be it babysitting, personal care, or just a load of laundry. Being able to offer this same kind of flexibility and service is essential to maintaining office value.
Tishman Speyer launched Zo before the pandemic, providing tenants with a full range of amenities, including childcare, health services, travel planning, dry cleaning, personal grooming, catering and carpooling. It’s getting harder and harder for competitive office owners and management companies to just provide space and cash checks, now they have to act as a building janitor as well.
âZo represents a change in the way we run our business and our portfolio,â said Rob Speyer, CEO of Tishman Speyer, in a press release. âOur most important job is to serve the 250,000 people who work in our buildings every day. Instead of defining ourselves by the square footage we own, we’ll define ourselves by the quarter million people who use the square footage and how much we care for them.
Office owners struggling to provide hybrid workspaces may soon find hotels that move in with their clients. The pandemic is forcing office suppliers to rethink the value proposition of their products. People needed an office, many don’t. Freed from necessity, offices must offer more to workers looking for hybrid spaces. Office owners and management teams can offer all that hotels can offer, but at what cost. Hybrid workspaces charging hundreds per month have a pricing advantage over hotel workspaces charging by the day, but that’s as much about what you get for the money as it is about the total cost. Hotels bet they can offer welcoming hybrid workspaces that workers really want to be in, cheaper than offices. If office owners refuse to adapt to the changing demands of the workplace, this gamble will continue to pay off.