Meeting Space Ideas for Distributed and Hybrid Workers – Quartz

While some companies (but not all) are reducing their housing stock and giving workers the choice of coming to the office or working from home, other companies are betting there will be a demand for new types of meeting places and places to meet. work.

Separated from the office, some people able to work from home work instead of other people’s homes, often in exotic places. Just ask Airbnb, which has rolled out new search features to help users find remote work destinations. But you don’t have to travel far to get a change of scenery. When the home office doesn’t cut it anymore and the opportunity for collaboration or face-to-face contact presents itself, a number of small businesses or public spaces in the neighborhood can be the perfect meeting place, whether that either for a pair of teammates or the entire team.

Of course, public spaces like cafes, restaurants, and libraries have long been used for business and non-business meetings. But they can take on increased significance for employers as more hybrid workplaces leave the office, employee homes, and the world.

The local cafe

By achieving its mission of becoming a “third place” for people after home and work, Starbucks has redefined the role of coffee shops, large and small, in cities around the world. They have become places to hang out with a laptop for a few hours, or take time out with a colleague for a one-on-one meeting.

But there are also new models for making local businesses like cafes and restaurants places where larger teams of employees can work together. Traction on Demand, a Vancouver-based software consultancy, is piloting a project to partner with local small businesses to lease their spaces as meeting rooms. A restaurant that doesn’t open before dinner, for example, can be rented out as a co-working space during the day. If a cafe has an additional table section, the owner can reserve it for a group to come and hold a meeting. The company also talks to bicycle shops, cafes and microbreweries to welcome its employees in their spaces.

“The idea was basically, ‘What if we create these little gathering areas in our community, where our employees are based? »», Explains Megumi Mizuno, chief of staff of Traction on Demand, who heads the project she calls Working Forward. This model would benefit small businesses, Mizuno says, by providing additional income for the use of space, while giving Traction on Demand employees another workspace option without creating a demand for more space. Office.

So far, Traction on Demand executives have been in talks with small businesses in the Vancouver area about building partnerships, but are waiting for the pandemic restrictions to be lifted to try them out in practice. Once the spaces are operational, Traction on Demand employees will be able to reserve a seat in a closed cafe or restaurant using the same software they would use to reserve a hotel counter in the office. The spaces will host independent work as well as collaboration and meetings.

The aim is to take advantage of these spaces in a way that is beneficial to all parties concerned; Employees working at a dinner restaurant may be able, after working there during the day, to purchase a meal to take home to their families just as the restaurant begins to open, Mizuno says.

“We think this is something that could work for many people. We want it to be successful for our business, but we also want to help our communities thrive.

The “anti-coffee”

Working cafes, or “anti-cafes” as they are called, offer the best of coworking spaces and coffee shops. Instead of paying for food and drink to access it, some stores are set up for workers to pay for the time they spend, and everything else is free. WeWork’s now-closed cafe in Manhattan’s Flatiron neighborhood, for example, initially charged $ 6 for 30 minutes, and $ 0.20 per minute beyond.

These spaces, popular in European economic hubs like Manchester, Berlin and Moscow, are designed to stop off, with large meeting spaces as well as tables for solo working, and no coworking membership required.

In the United States, the friendly cafe model has sometimes been sponsored by companies, such as Capital One Café or Amazon Web Services startup lofts. These spaces are built to promote collaboration and meetings, but also the use of the products of the sponsoring company. The Capital One Café offers on-site banking services. The AWS lofts (which closed amid the pandemic) offered many free amenities of a private co-working space; the only cost of entry: an Amazon Web Services account.

The hotel conference room

The hospitality industry operates on the organization of meetings. While hotels are often designed with spaces for large conferences and events, many have conference rooms for day use. These spaces are generally intended for event planners and large companies that want to organize formal meetings. Hybrid work can change that. Hotels may relocate to serve distributed sales teams looking to work in person. At the very least, working in a hotel conference room or a refurbished guest room can give employees a complete change of scenery.

The library

Libraries, the often overlooked public resource, are teeming with information books, helpful staff, community programs, and in many places, meeting rooms that can be booked. Often seen as quiet spaces for individual concentration, libraries generally also offer collaborative workspaces. Many library systems in large cities have meeting rooms and electronic equipment for presentations that can be booked in advance.

Libraries aren’t always the most popular choice – a 2016 Pew Research Center survey found that only 18% of U.S. library users attended a meeting at a library. However, these spaces offer the possibility of free, pleasant, accessible and local meetings for city dwellers. Depending on the city, they are also an opportunity to discover an architectural wonder.

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