The COVID-19 pandemic has been a time of renewal and learning for many businesses. One of the biggest reforms in daily work life has been the proliferation of remote work, which has now become more of a rule instead of an exception. Many workers and businesses nowadays use external premises for working, and one of the most interesting concepts in this is the new “work from hotel” -trend.
The main thing that has happened in daily working life during the last two and a half years is the fact that many workers have moved from working in their businesses’ own premises to somewhere else, usually home.
Although working from home has generally been a pleasant experience for many workers, this has also been causing some problems, such as a lack of any kind of human interaction and the physical problems that the lack of good work ergonomics is causing at the “home offices”.
Even though the pandemic has been a really challenging time for the hotel and travel industry, it has also created plenty of room for innovation. One of these innovations are the so-called hybrid hotels, which, along with normal hotel experiences, allow you to work from a hotel.
One of these hotels was our VALO Hotel & Work in Helsinki, which opened in 2020. Unlike many other hotels that have tried to work from home, the VALO Hotel is specifically designed for everyday work.
Thus, VALO has not been transformed to meet the needs of office workers but is designed to function in a hybrid model, which means that the hotel operates as an office and co-working space during the day and is also converted for overnight stays during the night. This in general means that you have a super ergonomical place to work, instead of having facilities which really aren’t ideal for office work but still offer this kind of option.
The work from hotel concept is suitable for many kinds of people, which includes for example business travelers, regular office workers, who want to find better facilities and casual travelers, who also want to get some things done during their holidays.
Employers, on the other hand, have begun to favor the so-called work from anywhere (WFA) trend, which offers completely new opportunities for their employees. Such opportunities include, for example, working freely from anywhere in the world and at any time.
This on the other hand offers employees to travel quite freely even outside their yearly holidays. When willing to do so, the work from hotel trend really comes in handy as it allows you to fully combine the vacation along with office work.
The potential and likely rise in work from anywhere policies means that hotels all around the world are seeing this new kind of customer as a segment with huge potential. Hotel rooms may previously have been dedicated to sleeping, resting, and relaxation, but more mixed-use environments are being explored as hotels are reopening their doors and thinking about new ideas to attract customers and stand out from their competitors.
“While hotel lobbies became thriving hubs for digital nomads pre-pandemic, it may be some time before bustling co-working spaces feel safe again for guests,” said Kate Mooney, Founder of OCCA. “With this in mind, the workspace in guestrooms has become even more of a focus in hotel design. A token desk in the corner with a simple lounge chair is no longer enough.
“We’re leveraging our workspace experience to bring a hybrid of functionality to the guest room and create a blended hotel-office. From introducing features such as ergonomic seating, standing desks and wireless charging facilities to removing the bed altogether and replacing it with soft seating, we’re investigating ways to provide travelling workers with everything they need to do their jobs away from home – “workspitality” is fast becoming the new hospitality,” notes Kate.
(Quotes taken from Occa Design website)
As workers are no longer forced to return to the office after a certain period, the work from hotel trend will also create real possibilities for longer stays at the so-called hybrid hotels. It’s a simple fact that when employees are able and allowed to do their work from anywhere, they will also want to use this new possibility so that they can also enjoy their time while working.
This will also give hotels even more room for innovation, and yet another hotel model that looks set to experience a surge in popularity owing to changing working patterns is the monthly subscription.
Longer-term hotel subscriptions are designed to allow travelers to use multiple different hotels within a brand for a single monthly fee. Whether the guest has to travel for work or is making the most of their work from anywhere policy, a hotel subscription could make the whole world their home.
This could be a brilliant idea, especially for larger hotel brands with multiple premises. The ability to work from home is one thing, but the ability to work from anywhere is something we have all been waiting for and will warmly welcome.
With campaigns such as the Global Passport, the ability to travel, work, and live anywhere you like is a reality and is the antithesis of a boring desk job. In addition, the boost in revenue and variety of potential customers that this could deliver for the hotel chains after the challenging times is definitely not something that the hotels should ignore.
At this point, I am going to tell you a short story about how the work from hotel trend started within our own business.
Unlike in many other hotels that are offering work from hotel opportunities, the story of VALO Hotel & Work began-before the pandemic had even started-with a single frustrated business traveler, who wanted something more: not for himself, but instead on the aspect of the facilities and emissions.
Behind our birth is the story of an entrepreneur who traveled a lot for work and simply couldn’t understand why the same space could not be better utilized and used for more purposes than just an office or a hotel.
Traveling between the hotel and the coworking spaces seemed particularly pointless, knowing that both buildings were empty either during the day or during the night. Why couldn’t the regular business day be done inside the same building?
This totally new kind of innovation brings together hotel and business premises that use the same facilities at different times, depending on what the customers need. The end result is a service that is always in use, which is also one of our business’s principles.
VALO may look like an ordinary hotel or even a modern coworking space, but thanks to its innovative facilities and services, it corrects big societal problems. The properties cover a significant part of Finland’s emissions, and in 2018, vacant business premises alone caused 42 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. Even full offices, business premises, and hotels are only in operation part of the day and the rest are empty.
When the functions are placed in the same space, a higher utilization rate is obtained for the premises than for other operators, and this is called the dual concept. In this case, we are significantly more responsible and produce fewer emissions. This is also why you shouldn’t think of VALO just as a hotel, but instead as an effective hybrid space, which was equally designed as an office and a coworking space.
This totally new kind of innovation brings together hotel and business premises that use the same facilities at different times, depending on what the customers need. The end result is a service that is always in use, which is also one of our business’s principles. This is also why you shouldn’t think of VALO just as a hotel, but instead as an effective hybrid space, which was equally designed as an office and a coworking space.
One thing that we should not forget about is the fact that the work from hotel trend is also a really sustainable solution.
More and more attention is also being paid to the sustainability of facilities year after year. Today, e.g. energy efficiency, and the energy used in the premises should also be low-emission and preferably renewable. Users of business premises are also interested in the climate load caused by buildings.
The demand for responsibility has not been blown away at all, as buildings use 35% of all energy in Finland and also cause about 30% of all emissions. It is therefore quite significant that buildings’ occupancy rates and methods of use are optimized as far as possible. With this kind of trend, the hotel industry is also able to make a big difference.
We would like to thank you for reading this text and also wish all of you warmly welcome to visit our premises in Helsinki. If you are a media representative and found our business idea as an interesting one and would like to write a story about it, feel free to contact us in our media page. We would love to tell you more about our story so far and also about our plans for the future.
Sources: Occa Design, Hospitality Insights
Text: Tuomas Haapala