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30 MAY 2019 / INDUSTRY INSIGHTS

Coworking: is your restaurant hiding a revenue-making opportunity?

Research suggests that the number of coworking spaces will more than double by 2022, and the presence of such spaces in restaurants is becoming increasingly common.

Thanks to the rise of cloud computing and an increasingly vibrant freelancer market, the coworking space is in high demand. These shared office spaces have actually been around since 2005, but while they were traditionally housed within purpose-built facilities, it’s becoming more common to find them in public spaces.

Savvy restaurateurs have subsequently jumped on the coworking bandwagon, and if you’re yet to consider your establishment as the ideal place for freelancers and travelling salespeople to set up camp, you might be missing out. Big time.

Why do people love coworking spaces?

So, why are coworking spaces so popular? Let’s consider two typical users:

  • Sarah is a freelance photographer. When she isn’t out shooting for clients, she needs somewhere to edit her photos, and while her home office is a great space for that task, it isn’t when the kids and husband are occupying the rest of the house - or when she doesn’t fancy being cut-off from the rest of the world. So, Sarah instead heads for a coworking space where she can grab a good coffee and feel as though she really is ‘at work’, thanks to the like minded freelancers occupying the other tables.
  • Dave is a travelling salesperson. This means he’s rarely at the office and needs to make effective use of every minute he’s not travelling or presenting his wares. Coffee shops often suffice, but there’s nothing quite like the office-feeling he can get from a conveniently located coworking space. While the people surrounding him aren’t colleagues (and are therefore less likely to disrupt his workflow), they are fellow remote workers whose productivity inspires Dave to crack on. Plus, every now and then he really needs a printer… coworking spaces suit a huge range of workers across a variety of industries. And those people need watering and feeding if they’re to be happy and productive while working.

As a restaurateur, you’ve probably got the perfect temporary base for them, and it could be a brilliant way to improve cover numbers and revenue during what are usually quiet mid-week shifts.

What to consider before creating a coworking space
There are, of course, some considerations before transforming your restaurant into a coworking space.

For instance, you’ll need super-fast, reliable WiFi that doesn’t require a discussion with staff to get connected, chairs and tables at which people can sit and work for long periods and enough space to accommodate both co-workers and regular diners.

Your menu might need some attention, too. Coworkers probably won’t want large meals, therefore snacks and smaller, healthy meals will be the order of the day. Likewise, having good coffee readily available and healthy cold drinks will win you plenty of coworking admirers.

How to make a success of your coworking space

Excited about the prospect of turning part of your restaurant into a coworking space? Here’s what people will expect:

  • Fair pricing. That’s right, you can charge for your coworking space - particularly if you invest in the best possible facilities for the people who use it. This can also be a great way to obtain regular customers if you charge a monthly fee for as-and-when use. To get you thinking, the lowest average monthly cost of a flexible desk in the UK is £307, based on the prices found across seven major cities.
  • Awesome, no-hassle, secure WiFi. If you expect people to pay for your WiFi and then spend ten minutes working out how to connect to it, they’ll quickly move on elsewhere. It should, therefore, be accessible after no more than the entry of an email address (this provides you with some fantastic marketing opportunities, to boot!). With data security so high on the agenda these days, it needs to be super-secure, too.
  • Atmosphere. 60% of people say that coworking makes them feel more relaxed, and that largely comes down to the atmosphere. Thankfully, you’re a restaurateur, and creating such an atmosphere is your forte!
  • The simple stuff. Enough plug sockets with USB outlets, pens, paper and a printer or two on hand; co-workers don’t ask for much when it comes to the tools they need to get the job done.
  • Meeting rooms. Granted - not every restaurant will have meeting room space, but if you’re lucky enough to have a room or two that’s shut off from the main restaurant, they could be perfect meeting spaces for people - and they’ll probably be happy to pay an additional fee to use them.

Wrapping up

If midweek revenue has long been a worry, or if you’ve suspected for some time that there must be another way to bring in a type of diner who can provide a reliable, ongoing source of revenue, why not give coworking a try?

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