The Co-working Fix: Providing New Social Gathering Zones

By David Ashen Principal and Founder, dash design | November 13, 2016

In the U.S. more than one-third of the workforce has worked remotely. No surprise there. If you haven’t or don’t sometimes telecommute, chances are that someone you know has or does, at least occasionally.

Gallup, which shared the 2015 statistic that 37 percent of workers in the nation have worked off-site—that up markedly from the 9 percent that did so in 1995—also found that the average worker telecommutes twice a month, with 46 percent of remote workers doing so during regular work hours. It’s no wonder. Mobile technology has opened the way for on-the-go business owners, executives and others to work remotely while keeping connected with colleagues and clients. Yet, working solo has its limits.

Without the shared work environment of an office, social interaction with co-workers suffers and along with it, the potential for dynamic team-building. Working outside an office also can hinder opportunities to meet with clients for in-person collaborations and presentations to strategize and forward agendas. After all, although a wide variety of information can be shared among individuals and groups through tech and mobile devices, there’s nothing quite like the authentic connections that develop when people come together in face-to-face meetings. And when people connect, ideas are shared, solutions are discovered and innovations are spurred. More importantly, humans are social creatures and crave connections with other people. Working outside of an office, and the isolation associated with that, can cause a wide variety of physical and emotional issues.

Co-working at Hospitality Venues

Many hospitality venues have taken notice. Increasingly, they’re answering today’s heightened demand for flexible work spaces by providing on-site co-working environments, where people can work independently in shared or private spaces, in small or large groups, or in client meetings, all with the support of in-office services, like copier machines and projectors.

Never mind yesterday’s point-of-entry receptionist, dedicated office space and shared kitchen. Today’s hotels are taking another look at effective co-working spaces. Instead of focusing on how to incorporate traditional modes of work into on-site work environments, like providing shared administrative staff and mail management, hospitality venues now are paying greater attention to ways that maximize the working habits of the millennial generation, the largest group in the workforce. Think of hotel lobbies that blur the bar-lobby-lounge model and become flexible gathering, work and meeting spaces that allow for impromptu collaborations. Or on-site common and social spaces that invite people in and to stay put for engaging and collaborative work or play, allowing guests to participate in a range of experiences. That’s a scenario with more appeal to younger workers than the solitary cubicle that was their parents’ standard, especially for those that don’t need an office, just access to its amenities.

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.