More companies are making decisions about how and if their workers will return to offices. Some of them are being a bit more flexible with hybrid options where employees work part of the time from home. But are those work-from-home workers really working from home?
It’s 75 and sunny in Brooklyn, and there are so many people out, it’s as if everyone’s on vacation. But lots of people are behind laptops, like Jake Sundean, sitting outside a bagel shop.
“It’s nice to come out here and work outside, especially on a beautiful day like this,” he said.
Sundean is a graphic designer. He’s been working from home to skip the 45-minute commute into Manhattan. Still, he needs to escape his dark apartment and his roommates now and then.
“Sometimes if I’m working right in my room, it’s so easy to just, like, you know, hit the bed,” he said, laughing. “You know, rest my eyes for a little bit longer.”
More than 70% of workers want to keep the option to work remotely, according to a survey from Microsoft. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to spend all their time at home. And that creates a business opportunity. Nick Iovacchini is CEO of KettleSpace, an app that connects users to workspaces in hotels, restaurants and even retail stores.
“You’d be surprised at how often, you know, the space that’s right on the ground floor, beautiful decor and lighting, is just sitting there underutilized and empty,” he said.
That was the case before the pandemic at Kindred, a Mediterranean restaurant in Manhattan. It used to be only open for dinner, said Moshe Schulman, one of the owners. Now workers can rent a table for $25 a day, and there are tempting extras for sale, like an a la carte lunch menu.
“And also wine, if they’d like to drink while they’re working … but not encouraged,” Schulman said.
Running a restaurant/office has costs: Wi-Fi upgrades, charging stations, unlimited coffee. But Kindred is on track to pull in an extra $10,000 in sales this month. Schulman thinks people like not having to do the coffee shop hop. You know, the awkward scrounge for Wi-Fi passwords and power outlets.
“It’s a mutual understanding between the restaurant and then folks who are working to say, ‘Relax, get your work done and enjoy, you know, a dish or a glass of wine after,'” Schulman said.
As for Sundean, the graphic designer outside the bagel shop, he plans on nursing his $5 coffee until his laptop dies.
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