It’s not here in the UK – yet – but expect Spacious or a company with the same idea to come to a town near you pretty soon. If you’re not aware of Spacious, it’s a co-working service that operates out of New York restaurants.
A New Way of Thinking
‘The scarcity of urban space is artificial. It’s a product of outdated ways of thinking. We’ve never been more technologically empowered, yet we continue to make buildings productive for less than 50% of the time, where demand for space exists 100% every day,’ explains Spacious on its website.
Spacious has taken this demand and matched it with an unseen supply: ‘On every block, on the floors of every building, there is plenty of usable space hiding in plain sight.’
The company is giving freelancers and remote workers, and the owners of this space, the chance to make the best of it. Spacious members can work – and even give presentations or hold meetings — at any of the participating restaurants, which all offer coffee and WiFi.
It’s a brainwave that benefits both the workers and the restaurant owners, who might otherwise lose money in those hours when their restaurant is closed or almost empty.
Gianni Cionchi, general manager at MP Taverna in Brooklyn, told CNBC: “We have a beautiful restaurant space in a beautiful neighborhood, and we weren’t using it during the daytime. At no additional cost, we have an additional revenue stream.”
Compared to more conventional co-working companies, where your place must be booked and is often limited by location or by permanent contracts, Spacious offers a more varied, informal and flexible way of acquiring a working space.
“Independent, mobile employees were finding themselves increasingly able, through technology and corporate policies, to be able to work from anywhere,” Spacious co-founder Preston Pesek told CNBC recently. “We were matching trends in the business world with what’s available in commercial real estate.”
Currently, Spacious uses a network of seven restaurants in New York, but it has plans to expand to Boston and San Francisco.
An Affordable Option
Low overheads and a small staff team mean Spacious has been able to offer competitive packages.
For $95 a month, members get unlimited access to all locations, unlimited free refreshments, and priority booking for private conference rooms and special events. If you’re a five-day-a-week worker, that’s just $3.80 a day – the price of a coffee if you keep it basic and don’t want it big. Not bad, eh?
Don’t want to commit yourself to a monthly membership? No problem. The offer both a one week free trial and $29 day passes (although some simple maths will tell you that if you’re likely to use Spacious for 4 days or more a month, the membership will save you money!
Want to invite guests who aren’t members? That’s fine. Your guest gets one free hour – after that it’s $6 per hour per guest, up to a maximum of the $29 day rate.
‘All we ask is that you respect your fellow members and reserve loud talking for the private meeting rooms,’ says Spacious.
The Spacious Experience
So, what’s it like to be a Spacious member?
When you walk into a Spacious location, you’re greeted by a Spacious host and prompted to check in at the reception desk. You enter your phone number and then receive a text with the Wi-Fi password.
‘Once you’ve checked in, choose any seat you like. Grab a power cord if you need it, help yourself to coffee or tea, and come and go as you please. It’s like your favourite café, but with fewer distractions and (much) faster Wi-Fi,’ say Spacious.
And if you’re thinking the Wi-fi might be a problem…
‘How fast is the Wi-Fi? Insanely fast,’ says the Spacious website. ‘We consider fast internet as important as breathing. We’re not talking about coffee shop Wi-Fi here. We install top-of-the-line high throughput wireless access points and work with local ISPs to deliver uncompromising speed. Don’t take our word for it, check twitter for speed test results from happily surprised members. The best part is, no matter which location you visit, the Wi-Fi is tuned to perfection.’
You also receive another text to warn them that there’s one hour before dinner service begins. Of course, if you want to hang around for a drink or a meal, the restaurant owners are unlikely to say no – unless they’re fully booked!
While you can sign up on the website for a free trial week, it’s not necessary – nor is any type of reservation or filing of credit card details. You can walk into a Spacious location and start straight away.
So, how long will it be before this kind of co-working gains traction in the UK? My spidey senses tell me it won’t be long, although practicality means it’s likely to be confined to cities and perhaps a few large towns. If it comes to a place near you, would you be tempted?
I think I would…