The kids are clamoring for attention, the laundry needs doing, and what’s for dinner again?
Many US workers have had no choice but to adapt to working from home in recent months since offices shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
And for many, the lack of structure and boundaries is taking a terrible, emotional toll. A new option awaits if you want to shake up your WFH routine: Work from a hotel.
Leisure travel to downtown Los Angeles has sagged during the coronavirus pandemic, but guest rooms at the 94-year-old Hotel Figueroa are hot commodities as always.
These days, however, most guests are locals taking day trips from home so they can work.
A special program titled Work Perks aims to reposition some of the hotel’s 268 rooms as day-use offices.
According to Managing Director Connie Wang, the set-up launched in June and is a great opportunity for work-at-home warriors to get out of their houses and spend workdays in clean, quiet and socially distanced spaces that come with high-speed WiFi, unlimited printing privileges and free parking.
“They want a calming and relaxing atmosphere, away from the distractions of working at home,” Wang said, noting that the 350-square-foot rooms sell for $129 per day, with an option to extend to an overnight stay for an additional $20. “For some people, this has become a real treat.”
The “Fig,” as it’s known locally, isn’t the only traditionally overnight accommodation pivoting toward day-use during the pandemic; across the country other properties have taken similar leaps. Strategy behind these moves is simple: Hotels will try anything to offset revenues that have dropped as much as 50 percent since public health-driven shutdowns began in March. As a result, hotels have started a host of new revenue streams at a time when every dollar counts.
Room and board
Take The Wythe, a boutique hotel in Brooklyn. The hotel recently announced a partnership with co-working office space company Industrious through which it is repurposing 13 second-story guest rooms to serve as offices for up to four people.
Each of the rooms has a small outdoor terrace, and dogs are welcome. Pricing starts at $200 and goes up to $275, depending on how many people use the space.
The Sawyer, in Sacramento, California, is offering pool cabanas for use as outdoor offices, complete with fast WiFi, free parking and catered lunch for $150 per day.
Then there’s the 318-room Hamilton Hotel in Washington D.C. Through its new “Home-Away-From-Home-Office” package, the hotel offers guests use of a room until 4 p.m., as well as a bag of breakfast goodies and a Keurig coffeemaker with unlimited pods.
The price tag: $109 per day, only about $25 less than the overnight rate.
The Ballantyne, a Luxury Collection Hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina, has taken an entirely different approach. Here, Beth Allen, director of sales and marketing said the property is offering entire 350-square-foot boardrooms for $500 per week.
Allen noted that guests who sign up for these boardrooms have 24-hour access to their space and can order off a special room service menu with lower prices to accommodate frequent buyers.
“People are still trying to get their heads around the fact that businesses won’t be able to go back to traditional office spaces for a while,” she said. “By doing this we’re serving a need in the community and, at the same time, bringing people in the doors so we can expose them to other amenities and perhaps get them to spend money with us in other ways.”
Salvation for cramped New Yorkers
Perhaps the best value comes from guest-room offices at the InterContinental Times Square, which is located right in the middle of New York City.
Here, hotel management has set aside about 20 percent of its 607 rooms to be utilized as office space. The 350-square-foot rooms are available for $1,000 per week, and they come standard with full-time technical support from PSAV, a global event production company.
General Manager Gul (pronounced “Gool”) Turkmenoglu said guests get access to the room for 24 hours and noted that guests can opt to have the beds removed for additional space.
She added that some of the rooms were renovated earlier this year.
“When we renovated the rooms, we felt overnight guests would be benefiting,” Turkmenoglu said. “Now it seems day-use guests are benefiting, too.”
What’s old is new again
The notion of designating hotel rooms for day-use only certainly is nothing new; Yannis Moati founded an entire company on the concept back in 2015. That company, HotelsByDay, has grown to include more than 1,500 hotels, and has seen a significant uptick in the number of inquiries for day-use bookings since the pandemic began.
Moati said the current situation will force hotels to reinvent themselves to stay alive, and he predicted that offering rooms for day-use only is one of the directions they will go.
“When you think about it, a hotel is a big box full of space,” he said. “We hope this trend is a way for hotels to monetize the fact that [space] is something everybody seems to want right now, and they’re looking for spaces they know are safe.”
Of course, this is what drove Danielle Levanas to participate in Hotel Figueroa’s Work Perks program last month.
Levanas, a drama therapist and trauma-informed life coach in Los Angeles, said she had been trying to run her businesses out of her 2-bedroom apartment since the pandemic began, but was frustrated by an inability to create work/life balance and obtain some space from her vocal 2-year-old.
While she loves the quietude of a room at the Fig, she also appreciates having a space all her own.
“The biggest issue I’ve been having is that I don’t feel safe going back to my office space because the building shares a bathroom, and there isn’t a procedure for keeping public spaces pandemic-level clean,” she said. “The fact that I was able to work from the hotel room with a private bathroom was key.”
She added: “The unpredictable nature of this pandemic has caused unforeseen stress for everyone. Having a space to go to metaphorically ‘put my therapist hat on’ is really important.”
Matt Villano is a writer and editor in Healdsburg, California. Learn more about him at whalehead.com.