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.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.