“One day, offices will be a thing of the past” – Richard Branson
Previously overfunded at 169% , Workabode (formerly One City) is back for a 2nd round, as part of the disruption of the approx. £11bn shared workspace market via the “Workplace as a Service” (WAAS) market. by allowing people to work anytime, anyplace and anywhere, and to pay online only for what they use.
By listing publicly available, validated workplaces, we believe Workabode can become one of the world’s largest aggregators of workspace, and provide a more compelling offering than traditional bricks and mortar providers.
As business becomes more agile, there is an increasing trend in “workshifting” – getting work done in the right place, by the right people at the right time. Technology has untethered us from our desk, and we can now get work done without the need to be in a traditional office environment.
We now need places that allow us to work anytime, anyplace & anywhere – suited to the task we’re working on at that moment – being locked into one single location no longer works.
Above all, we should no longer have to make do with sterile working environments, poor quality wifi, poor bandwidth and no charging points. We need workspace that is conveniently located. And by having a large number of validated places where people can work, Workabode provides a great platform not only to supply great workspace, but also to connect people.
A. WHAT PROBLEMS DOES WORKABODE AIM TO SOLVE?
If business has become agile to remain competitive in the global marketplace, we argue that the workplace has stagnated. The serviced office market is reported as growing at 10% per annum, and the co-working industry is seeing explosive growth, reflecting huge demand. But still, we feel there has been little or no innovation in this sector in a very long time.
It’s broken! At workabode we believe booking workspace is as broken as booking a hotel was before AirBnB, who has been able to build a huge business and disrupt a traditional hotel industry because it managed to address several pain factors all at the same time: Inefficiency, Inflexibility, Inaccessibility, Lack of Quality, Cost, and Market Knowledge.
1. Inefficiency: The traditional workplace is inefficient & costly. Typical average office occupancy over the working day is 45%, and the average occupancy rate for business centres is around 50% based on our research. A traditional Monday-to-Friday 8am-6pm office is used for only 30% of the year, and the average UK workplace cost per employee is £6,000 per year. With real estate normally being a company’s second largest expense, this is a huge waste & a major headache for real-estate managers.
Workabode Solution: Workspace operators & property owners will be able to list & market their space as destinations to a much wider audience on our platform and make money from under-utilized space. This may also encourage employees to move towards a more agile workforce and reduce their corporate property burden.
2. Inflexibility: As the workforce becomes more mobile, virtual & contingent, people are still tied to to a one-size-fits all workplace. Leases lock people in, forcing people to make do with one workplace. This doesn’t make sense when people are now working on average across 3.5 workplaces per week.
Workabode Solution: In the same way that hotels market themselves as destinations, workspace operators & landlords will be able to market their properties as workplace destinations to a global market, thereby eliminating the need for restrictive leases. In the same way that hotels are categorized as suitable for certain guests on a certain budget, workspace operators will be able to do the same. Workspace can become a destination.
3. Inaccessibility: Because we’re tied to one lease, one location – it’s hard to gain access to places more suited to the task we’re working on. And since work and life is becoming more integrated, we tend to work in blocks of time over longer stretches of the day – yet many facilities still operate traditional 9 – 5 opening hours.
Workabode Solution: Enter the type of space you are looking for, suited to the task you’re working on, and your desired location, and we’ll do the rest. You’ll be able to choose from a number of validated workspaces, see their reviews, & pay only for what you use – all on your doorstep.
4. Poor Quality: Ever sat in a workspace and pulled your hair out because of poor wifi connection? Or the bandwidth is really slow? Or you have to trek across the other side of the room, because that’s where the only charging point is. Or how about the horrible coffee? Or the soul-less, sterile environment? Or the receptionist who barely acknowledges you when you walk through the door? We don’t put up with any of these factors when we stay at a hotel, so how come we let these things stretch our patience when we’re in a public workspace?
Workabode Solution: Similar to TripAdvisor, anyone will be able to post a review of the location, and you can rank and rate a destination according to 16 criteria – from quality of wifi through to ambience and of course price. This will give workspace operators the chance the market their destinations, and improve their offering, whilst poor offerings get weeded out very fast.
5. Cost: For the workspace operator, running a space at half-capacity can be costly – places still need to be powered, heated, manned and marketed. For the worker, the “one-lease, one location” model ties us into expensive leases for space that we will never really use all the time – because it’s not fit for purpose. That means we end up not using it, which results in same occupancy quandary for the landlord.
Workabode Solution: Workabode aims to do the marketing for the landlord/workspace operator, removing the need for expensive and old-fashioned marketing. Workers will be able to pay only for the space they use, and nothing more. You will be able to tailor the space you want to the task you’re working on. For example, a one-one-one could easily be had in the right open-plan enviroment offering some level of privacy for a fraction of the cost of having to book a meeting room in a business centre. Travel time and cost is reduced by gaining access to locations on your doorstep.
6. Knowledge: Ever been in the situation where you want to have an impromptu meeting but you simply don’t know where to go? Hotels and coffee shops can be great alternatives – sometimes. Other times they can be noisy, messy, and not ideal for discussing your next ground-breaking new idea on a computer.
Workabode Solution: Workabode aims to allow you to find places near you, instantly. You’ll know where they are, how much they cost, and what others are saying about the location.
Mobile is central to mobile working, and we expect a major proportion of of our revenue to come through our mobile app. To this end, Workabode is recruiting an in-house team to focus on both Android and iPhone development.
Community and social engagement will be a key feature of the Workabode offering, and we will therefore continue to develop the platform with a strong UX focus. Currently we’re beta testing, and we’re very close to going live.
C. BUSINESS MODEL
Similar to AirBnB, Workabode will take a percentage commission from both host and guest. We will charge subscriptions to hospitality providers who will be able to list under the “free spaces” section.
D. TARGET MARKET
1. Mobile Workers
People need space wherever they work – but no longer the same space all the time. Workabode’s primary focus is on the estimated 1.3 billion mobile workers worldwide, and aspires to be a global solution in this sector. With supply not keeping pace with demand, property owners and workspace operators will be incentivised to maximise revenue and increase the efficiency of their spaces.
Workabode aims to allow employers to make huge cost savings by reducing their property burden, whilst at the same time increasing employee satisfaction by allowing them to work where they wish. We’ve already seen the massive success of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) in the workplace. Now’s the time for BYOW (Bring Your Own Workplace).
3. Workspace Providers & Property Owners
Business centres, co-working spaces, hotels, airport lounges, private members clubs, retailers and even private owners can turn their properties into mobile working destinations and compete with other offerings on service, hospitality and a range of other offerings. Property owners should make money, save costs and increase efficiency.
E. WHAT HAVE WE ACHIEVED TO DATE?
1. E-commerce business: On the e-commerce side of the business, the platform is complete and we’re currently traction and beta testing the site. This represents 80% of our current focus.
2. Bricks & mortar business: Workabode has signed a Letter of Intent with the University of Reading who are developing Thames Valley Science Park. In addition to the MoU, we are in discussions with the University about the potential of creating and funding a high-tech incubator, accelerator and public workspace but this remains subject to a number of conditions and EU funding decisions. This is part of a £50m development over 800,000 square feet in the heart of the UK’s “Silicon Corridor.”