Can On-Demand Office Space Offset Remote Work Issues?

October 16, 2020

The market for office space is facing the potential of a collapse if the trend toward remote work continues after the COVID-19 pandemic. Some major companies have already announced they will allow their employees to work from home permanently, while others are considering hybrid options, mixing remote work and in-person days in the office. Either approach could prompt companies to shrink their office footprints. But businesses also are recognizing that in-person workplaces remain a critical component to maintaining company culture and innovation, onboarding new employees, and training.

On-demand office space may meet the need when employees need to meet in person. Workplace provider Breather this week announced the debut of Passport, a monthly membership program that provides companies with on-demand access to office space across the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom. The idea is to give businesses the flexibility to bring employees together with access to private workspaces across 10 major markets. Companies will then have access to private space when and where they need it, the company says.

Forty-four percent of employees say they miss “human interactions” with co-workers, 31% miss the professional environment, and 29% miss collective face-to-face work, according to a survey conducted by JLL. “Given the current state of the economy, it is more important than ever for startups and companies of all sizes to improve cash flow,” says Bryan Murphy, CEO of Breather. “Spending on office accounts for one of the largest business expenses, and with increased shift to remote work, we created Passport as an affordable option that maintains collaboration, culture, and business continuity for clients.”

Passport’s office spaces can accommodate up to 50 people and are fully furnished, including Wi-Fi connectivity and whiteboards. Companies can select the number of day passes they want each month and pay a fixed monthly price, starting at $225 per day. Breather’s app allows companies to book space.

“Like many companies, when the pandemic forced us to shift to remote work, we made the best of it,” says Celia Zhang, head of operations at FreeWill, a legal services company. “However, there are certain actions that are difficult to replace virtually, with collaboration and brainstorming being major areas for us.” On-demand office spaces have helped FreeWill employees still meet in person while their headquarters remain closed.

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