Travel TrendsSome believe the rise of remote working reflects the beginning of a lifestyle change—and longer-term demand for co-working quarters and office spaces in hotels.

Will live-work collision bring new opportunities in travel space?

Many hotels such as Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel are converting rooms into co-living options or day use office space.
Many hotels such as Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel are converting rooms into co-living options or day use office space.

Across the world more people than ever are working remotely, with Covid-19 cementing the remote work era. Global companies such as Siemens, Fujitsu, Facebook, and Twitter now have permanent remote work policies, while more and more companies are switching to distributed teams. As travel corridors open and border restrictions ease, how can the travel industry tap on this rapidly growing trend?

“Companies across the spectrum are switching to remote work, and this is not just a change for Covid, it’s a permanent change,” said David Abraham, co-founder of Outpost, a network of live-work social spaces focusing on the remote working community since 2016.

“When a whole new set of people are untethered from the office, they’re going to move,” he explained during the recent New Nomads: Enterprising Conversations on Coliving, Coworking & Startups webinar held by Delivering Asia Communications and C9 Hotelworks. “It’s no longer business and leisure, it’s now live/work/live/work. It’s a complete lifestyle. Therefore a new segment is ready to go.”

Abraham noted that 85% of millennials and Gen Zers want to live wherever they like, and nearly half are saving just for travel. He referred to American Airlines data that showed 30% of travellers are under 30 — a three-fold increase on the previous year. This demographic is “about to turn remote work into anywhere work.”

He added, “The younger generation wants to be immersed in experience. They want a supportive community, idyllic destinations, business and professional growth opportunities, to have a positive impact on their environment, and have the flexibility to go out and explore on their own, or come back and be part of a community. The destination co-living segment really matches the moment."

According to Yvonne Yeo, co-founder of Singapore-based relocation platform Relogo, there are now more than 180 co-living operators across Asia-Pacific, up from about 50 in 2017. She said Covid-19 has meant some are hesitant to share space, “but the economic benefits outweigh this issue for many”.

Yeo also said that many Singapore hotels are now converting rooms into co-living options or day use office space. “Co-living is definitely here to stay and there will be many more exciting things coming up. A lot of great brands are showcasing themselves around the region.”

Portman Investment partner Kristin Thorsteins spoke of the opportunity hotels now have to monetise empty rooms and spaces as workspaces.

“When you think about it, hotels have some of the nicest and most inspiring spaces in any city. If you combine that with the hospitality and service that is inherent to hotels, you actually realise hotels can be a wonderful alternative to working from home.”

The former hotel developer believes hotels actually have an advantage over flexible workspaces. “Hotels provide the ultimate flexibility as they are open 24/7, and they have these wonderful spaces. We’re not just talking about the lobbies, but also meeting spaces and even rooms. This is a great opportunity for hotels to catch this market.”

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