The pandemic has irrevocably changed the way we’ve worked. All companies chose to adopt a work from home (WFH) model in order to stop the coronavirus from spreading. As the world adapts to the new normal gradually, there are new avenues of working that have come up and one of the key ones are restaurant spaces doubling as workstations.
A handful of restaurant operators in India are seeking to drive incremental revenues during off-peak hours by opening up their underutilized space to remote workers. As less as INR 350 a day or INR 5,000 a month, start-up entrepreneurs are also looking for restaurants’ premises to work. In addition to food, some restaurants are offering boardroom facilities, storage space, conference facilities, high-speed Wi-Fi, stationery and even printers.
As a brand, SOCIAL has been a pioneer in promoting cost-effective co-working spaces in the country. The demand for the same has risen now more than ever before. With a network of 24+ SOCIAL Works across the outposts in seven cities, the brand offers full cover membership which means the member gets free food and drinks worth the membership package and effectively making it a zero rental workspace.
Mayank Bhatt, Brand Head of SOCIAL believes that there is a lot of potential in restaurants doubling up as co-working spaces during the day. “As a brand, we are doubling down on our coworking offering SOCIAL Works. With a lot of companies having to let go of expensive offices to save costs during the pandemic, SOCIAL Works provides the perfect antidote to inflexible office spaces. In December 2020, to promote our co-working concept, we launched a campaign called #OpenHouse week across Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, and Chennai for creative entrepreneurs to come and experience the space for free,” Bhatt informed.
One of the less explored benefits of marketing the restaurant as a coworking space is reaching out to an entirely new clientele. Someone who comes to the restaurant looking for an unconventional co-working space may come back for dinner. Alternatively, they could come back every day to get their work done while enjoying food and beverages.
“I think people increasingly prefer to move away from working in a cubicle in an office to working in a more pleasant atmosphere. And for that nothing beats a cool cafe to work out from. It’s a good way for the cafe to use under-utilised space as well,” commented AD Singh, the founder and Managing Director of the Olive Group of Restaurants.
Cafes have long been the workplace of choice for freelancers, students, and creatives. They’re a natural fit for coworking because they already have the amenities that people want: coffee, WiFi, outlets, and comfortable seating. Taking cues from Starbucks, one can see the cafes full of people working. Customers who need to spend a few hours prefer a place where they can pay a fee and be absolutely at home to sit as long as they like.
Singh informed that before the lockdown, Olive Bar and Kitchen in Bombay was only open for dinner. So, the restaurant tied up with a start-up and allowed their clientele to work out of Olive during the daytime.
“Similarly Monkey Bar in Bandra only opens in the evening and so we had a similar tie-up to welcome people to come to work out of us all day long and worked out special packages for them,” he further stated.
With comfortable seating, power outlets, and delicious food and beverage options abound, most restaurants already have the skeleton of a great coworking space. However, not all kind of restaurants can be used as workplaces.
Commenting on the same, Vishal Anand, Founder, Moonshine Food Ventures feels that one can generate additional revenue out of this model but a restaurant or a cafe cannot rely completely on the same.
“Retail Real Estate is one of the most expensive real estates. With higher rentals, one cannot afford to have a seat occupied for the entire day. Restaurant seat requires quicker multiple turns around to maximise yield. But, yes, off-peak hours can generate additional revenue from being used as a workplace however a restaurant cannot be dependent on the same,” he commented.
Introspecting the current situation with the rising number of Covid cases, a longer duration of WFH is being anticipated. This might increase the number of people looking for a comfortable space to work from. Restaurants may find their win-win deal!
Edited By Nusra