The Restaurant As The Coworking Space

Restaurants and bars are often bustling with visitors at night, but these spaces can sit latent and underused during the day while consumers are at work. But by welcoming in gig economy and remote workers, owners of food and beverage venues can bring in foot traffic at off-peak hours – and become local neighborhood coworking spaces. In order to make these daytime transformations, food and beverage owners are turning to platforms such as AndCo. The move comes as work is becoming more flexible – and even larger companies are letting employees work out of the office. But “it doesn’t mean that everyone wants to work from home or a coffee shop,” AndCo Founder and CEO Sanj Mahal told in an interview.

Where else can these workers turn to for a place to be productive during the day? There are traditional coworking spaces, but food and beverage venues come with inherent advantages for the worker who wants a sense of variety and not work at the same place all the time. And such spaces can provide a boost to workers who might not have the social interaction of a traditional office: “There’s a different mood when you leave your home office versus a restaurant,” one worker told Fast Company about Spacious, another startup that helps restaurants become coworking spaces. “I can either leave when I’m done with my work or I have a choice of staying for happy hour. It doesn’t feel like I’ve left a long workday.”

Welcoming Remote Workers

In particular, food and beverage venues have an advantage over traditional coworking spaces: They’re used to welcoming new customers to their spaces every day. By comparison, more formal coworking spaces might require a higher level of commitment. At these venues, customers might have to sign up for a membership and pay for two or three months up front. In addition, customers may have to provide a few references with the process. Through platforms such as AndCo, however, consumers can get a hot desk for a monthly subscription at venues throughout a given city or geographical area. “This essentially is mobility flexibility and convenience at the extreme,” Mahal said. In terms of payments, customers can pay by credit card and soon Apple Pay. But Mahal is looking at more payment options in the future.

In terms of users, spaces such as AndCo attract freelancers and remote workers. The advent of such platforms come as the gig economy is booming: according to Q4 2017 data, 35 percent of respondents to a PYMNTS survey participated in some form of gig work in the past year, according to the PYMNTS Gig Economy Index. That’s up from the 30 percent noted in Q3 2017 and 33 percent in the same period of 2016. Of those surveyed, 23 percent were currently working a gig and 12 percent had done so in the past year. And, furthermore, the yearly collective earnings of gig workers tops a whopping $1.4 trillion, according to the index.

The Target Market

For AndCo in particular, Mahal has noticed that mothers who work from home have been a key customer base. They like the spaces on the platform because they can work locally near a school. And that’s part of the selling point of services such as AndCo: they seek to offer local options so remote workers don’t have to travel far to coworking spaces. Overall, AndCo is seeing that its spaces have wide appeal: “We have been totally surprised at the bandwidth of the type of users,” Mahal said.

The idea behind these marketplaces is that users will not just visit the bars and restaurants and hook into wi-fi — they may decide to order food or beverages. If they do so, the venues on AndCo’s platform, for example, can keep 100 percent of that incremental revenue. Beyond revenue and foot traffic, the marketplaces seek to give more exposure to these venues and help put them on the map: Mahal said that food & beverage venues, by their nature, are entrepreneurial. Yet they don’t always have a platform to advertise new uses for their businesses such as coworking spaces. But, with services such as AndCo, venues might be able to bring people in to work remotely – and perhaps even stay for dinner or a drink.


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