Would you do a day’s work in a restaurant if it were an available option? In a world where seemingly every open space can be tweaked into a coworking one, The New York Times recently ran an article that made the argument for restaurants to be counted among the shared-space phenomenon.
At the helm of this movement is a startup named Spacious. This company is working to turn unused spaces into city-wide networks of workspaces that are clean, stylish, and suited to helping you get your remote work done, much like a traditional coworking space. Spacious specializes in New York City and San Francisco and has so far transformed “unused spaces” in 25 restaurants into coworking hot spots.
There are a few catches to working out of spaces like these. Like Cinderella’s magic wearing off at the stroke of midnight, once the restaurant is open for dinner its coworking inhabits must leave to make room for paying customers. There are also zoning concerns for the business itself. It becomes difficult to determine if restaurants can operate as a coworking space and eatery simultaneously — even the term “coworking space” is being rephrased as “drop-in work space.”
[Related: Felena Hanson of HeraHub runs a coworking space for women]
If 25 restaurants have evolved into drop-in work spaces, there’s no doubt that 25 more will follow suit and this will slowly catch on to become the new normal. Don’t be quick to judge working at a space you’d simultaneously patronize (post-work) for happy hour. Here are three reasons why restaurants-slash-coworking spaces are worth making room for.
As an entrepreneur, you’ve got to admire the ‘side hustle’ involved.
Do you ever visit a quaint bistro in a bustling city that only opens after 5 pm and wonder how they are able to financially sustain as a business? Probably not, unless you’re an entrepreneur yourself. Then the questions really start flowing — how does a business this small in a pricey patch of real estate make ends meet?
Here’s where acting as a coworking space can help save a small eatery that may be privately struggling to stay afloat. Those restauranteurs approached by Spacious immediately chomped at the bit for the opportunity to offer coworking services. They could leave their doors open for a possible, but not guaranteed, lunch crowd, or get a portion of the membership dues that those individuals pay for coworking spaces and utilize the guaranteed income to pay for necessary expenses. A win-win for the worker and the business.
[Related: If you’re in the start-up phase, read these 4 secrets of success]
The restaurant will not be in service — but will be able to provide you service.
Let me explain what that means. When a restaurant is transformed into a coworking space, they are not cooking food in the back of the house. A waiter is not stopping by to take your order and a bartender isn’t there to fix you a drink.
The room is full of people just like you, professionals respectfully working together on their laptops and tablets. Many of these spaces convert ever so slightly to meet the needs of these remote workers. Lighting is adjusted, ambient music plays as white noise, and, of course, there’s a strong WiFi connection.
Still, coworkers do pay membership fees which tend to include an extra bang for their buck. Member perks, like a conference room or printing nooks, are available at traditional coworking spaces. Restaurants may not be able to match that, but they can still provide the same outstanding service during the day that they do at night. Staffers may be on hand to offer complimentary coffee, answer questions, and simply get to know the coworkers that are frequenting the spot — the new regulars to the business.
It’s healthy to switch up your location.
Working out of a Starbucks means being okay with a line out the door, limited seating, and loud noises. Working from home means enjoying quiet and familiarity, but maybe feeling a little isolated at times and less motivated to get dressed. If you knew there was an option to work out of a sophisticated eatery, wouldn’t you at least want to give it a shot?
I’d say yes. The best part about coworking spaces being based out of restaurants is that there’s a time limit to how long you can stick around. If you worked out of a Starbucks, where the hours in business are long, you might be more likely to get off track with your workload and lazily Google around. Being in a restaurant allows you to behave like the adult you are. You can get dressed to head there, laser-focus on what needs to be done, and leave feeling accomplished, and perhaps a little inspired by the new setting. Try getting outside of the box as much as you think outside of it. You’ll find there’s a good spot waiting for you there.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent services, DBAs, and trademark and copyright filing services. You can find MyCorporation on Twitter at @MyCorporation and Deborah at @deborahsweeney.