The Shared Home Office is Coworking’s Latest Threat
There’s a new home office solution for freelancers.
Coworking spaces aren’t the only players in the shared office game. In the UK, a startup called Spacehop is enabling ordinary freelancers to share their home offices.
Working out of a stranger’s home might seem odd for a startup with proprietary technology or a consultant who’s always on the phone, but for a certain subset of freelancers, it’s one of the best options on the market. In a feature by the BBC, the author explains how he secured a space in a yoga instructor’s home for £17.20/day.
Coworking spaces are the traditional go-to source for freelancers in search of flexible offices, but they have their limits. Not all spaces offer daily or weekly plans, and many grant amenities that a casual user might not need, like 24/7 access and free snacks. Platforms like Spacehop function more like Airbnb, except you book days rather than nights. It’s perfect for ultra short-term periods where you want to work outside your own home.
In fact, Spacehop doesn’t offer the option of staying the night, for the sake of the workers who’re sharing their spaces. Their homes are their own during the evening, and they can monetize their vacant space during the work day.
On U.S. shores, this business model is better known through companies like Breather, which offers office rentals for periods as short as 30 minutes. Though pricey in the long run, these short-term rentals are great for one-off meetings and consultations. For a consultant working with busy clients, the ability to choose a meeting place near the client’s home or work could make all the difference.
On a more fundamental level, homeowners opening their houses to freelance workers means more competition for coworking spaces and shared offices. There are many freelance workers who would perform just as well in a home office as in a coworking space, but perhaps their own home isn’t suited for work. These workers will be drawn to services like Spacehop, especially if they enjoy the home office aesthetic. Just as coworking spaces aim to emulate the trendy startup office, independent workers with big apartments can set up their space as the ideal home office. Tomorrow’s freelancers will be split between both types of services.
The increased competition is expected—it would be unnatural if coworking spaces held onto a monopoly on the office sharing market. Still, this is good reason for some spaces to reconsider how they can appeal to freelancers. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the home office aesthetic pop up in coworking spaces in the near future.