March 15, 2019
There’s a coworking facility in downtown Chicago that offers, among other amenities, private meeting areas, Wi-Fi and wireless printing. Pretty standard stuff. Except that this space also includes a bar and is located at Virgin Hotels Chicago.
The coworking area at this hip Chicago hostelry, the Virgin Commons Club, isn’t unique. JLL reports that a growing number of hotel properties are looking to get involved in the flexible space boom. They’re transforming underused spaces in communal areas or outdated business centers into modern coworking facilities.
“From a hotel standpoint, it could be a big opportunity,” says Lauro Ferroni, who directs capital markets research at JLL. “Coworking is in high demand, so any thoughtful attempts from hospitality operators to capture some of that demand are likely to be fruitful.”
It’s an initiative in tune with the times, and especially with the trend toward working remotely. “As more companies adopt flexible working policies and grown-on-the-road startups, and freelancers account for a larger proportion of the workforce, demand is growing for places that enable people to get their work done in a social setting and create a sense of community,” according to JLL.
While Virgin’s coworking space charges members a monthly fee, some hotel-based coworking facilities provide the service for free. The idea, says Ferroni, is to drive traffic to the hotel’s bar or coffee shops, and to help create brand awareness. A positive working experience in the lobby of a branded hotel in one city may encourage the user to book a stay at the chain’s outpost in another part of the world.
“There’s a natural confluence between coworking and hotels,” says Tom Carroll, head of EMEA corporate research at JLL. “The hospitality industry is all about providing high-quality service and amenities to create a good user experience – and that’s what today’s workforce is increasingly coming to expect from the spaces they work in, whether that’s a traditional office, a hotel lobby or a coworking outlet.”
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