While millions of remote and hybrid employees benefit from a reduced commute and increased flexibility on a daily basis, working from home always has its limits.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, nearly two-thirds of people working from home said they felt isolated, and more than two-thirds said they had trouble getting to work at the end of the day. While returning to work is an option, Gadi Royz, CEO of Workspace Marketplace Anywell, believes there is a better way.
“The idea of working from home for the rest of our careers just isn’t viable,” Royz says. “Fortunately, there are many ways to work remotely, and there is a third space.”
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The “third space” workplace can be a hotel rooftop, a restaurant, or a favorite coffee shop that employees already frequent in their daily lives. Anywell is creating a marketplace where employers partner with these third spaces to provide accommodations such as WiFi access, meal plans, and guaranteed seating. Workers just have to choose an available location where they want to work from that day on the anywell app.
Arguably, with the variants of COVID still evolving and new public health threats like monkeypox and poliomyelitis entering the picture, a “third space” may not be optimal for those who take more precautions. However, Royz imagines alternative workspaces will be the future as the workplace becomes more decentralized and globalized. EBN spoke with Royz to better understand the next evolution in the way we work.
How has the workplace changed in recent years?
While COVID has accelerated change, the workplace is still undergoing tectonic shifts. Work has started in the caves. Then, 200 years ago, the industrial revolution changed the way people work and everyone ended up in factories. A hundred years later, the office has become the primary workplace, especially for knowledge workers. We have also seen constant changes in the office, moving from cubicles to coworking spaces that appeared 30 years ago. Even before the pandemic, we saw a move towards a decentralized model. We are now in the midst of another evolution, where offices are more like headquarters.
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What challenges come with bringing work home?
The fact that people are not collaborating and the fact that people are stuck at home has a cost. The big quit is such a widespread phenomenon in part because people are less socially connected to organizations and feel less obligated to be a part of their company’s big story. This is the hidden cost of decentralized work.
But “decentralized” does not necessarily mean divided. By creating a reserved market for third-space hosts, employers, and workers, organizations can encourage employees to work together outside of the office and even host group meetings on days they’re not in the office.
How do third spaces like hotels and cafes also benefit from this model?
You can sit in a cafe, drink an espresso for four hours, and it might only cost you $4. Sounds like a good deal for the employee. However, this affordable luxury costs more than $4 for the host. These hosts, who have survived two years of the pandemic, are now witnessing a surge of knowledge workers who have been squatting for some time. This is not sustainable, since it limits customer turnover.
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We’ve seen places across the country ask techs not to work between certain hours so they can make room for more guests. Hosts even offer designated spaces or rooms for workers, as long as they can pay a minimum spend per hour in exchange for all the drip coffee and water they want. The market is trying to stabilize – hosts and employees are looking for more structured, predictable and cost-effective ways to work remotely. For example, in our marketplace, hosts can offer food, beverages, and space for a pre-determined hourly cost, paid by the employer.
Why is it beneficial for employers and employees to have a workspace outside their home and office?
Firstly, due to the reduction in operational costs related to the office. If you have a hybrid model, on average, the office can reduce workspace costs by 40%, which means there’s theoretically more space in their budgets. Second, organizations are realizing that providing you with amenities like a nice keyboard or monitor doesn’t solve your remote work needs. There is an organic need for people to work outside of their homes, to engage, collaborate, and clash with each other.
Ultimately, the house is designed for us to leave and return to – not to work. People have to get out of their homes. That’s why we’re optimizing distances between employees while providing places where they can sit together and work.