A few New York City restaurants that are idle during the daytime are getting a boost to their traffic, thanks to a service that turns otherwise empty dining rooms into makeshift work spaces.
Spacious, a work-sharing company, is helping to connect freelancers and employees that work remotely with eatery owners. Spacious members can set up shop — and even give presentations or hold meetings — at participating restaurants, which all offer coffee and WiFi, for a starting fee of $95 a month.
The arrangement is mutually beneficial: Remote workers get a quiet working space, while restaurants get potential happy-hour customers — or at least a group of people to help attract early birds.
Meanwhile, Spacious — which operates out of seven restaurants in the New York City region and is looking to expand to Boston and San Francisco — is looking to ride the growing wave of workers who are escaping the confines of the office using just a laptop and a mobile device.
“Independent, mobile employees were finding themselves increasingly able, through technology and corporate policies, to be able to work from anywhere,” Spacious co-founder Preston Pesek told CNBC recently. “We were matching trends in the business world with what’s available in commercial real estate.”
Spacious is indirectly competing against a fast-growing industry of co-working spaces like WeWork or the female only The Wing, as well as regular coffee shops that host telecommuters.
In cities like New York, there are dozens of other co-working spaces, and many operate 24 hours a day. They also boast different amenities like community building and refreshments, and vary in scale. Some are organized by industry.
Spacious is looking to make inroads in an increasingly mobile workforce, with anecdotal evidence suggesting traditional office hours, as well as the cubicle life they represent, are on their way out.
Recently, a Gallup survey showed that 43 percent of U.S. workers spent at least some time working outside the office — and many of them described themselves as being enthusiastic about work. With that in mind, industries like real estate, human resources and technology are recruiting a slew of new workers for remote jobs.
Spacious member Daphne Taranto started using the service after she quit her full-time job to work on an independent project that eventually became a full-time gig.
Before Spacious, “I was mostly in cafes or public libraries beforehand as needed,” Taranto, co-director of international art fair Fully Booked, told CNBC in an email. “Or at home, but there’s not really space, mental or physical, for working from home very much.”
Working from a Spacious location “is a very concentrated work environment that you jump into when you start your day,” she added.
For its part, Spacious’ co-founders had been searching for a space that would afford users lower monthly costs and daytime hours. The company launched just last year, and has a small staff of about 10 people with a small group of concierges who greet and assist members at each location.
Members cheer Spacious’ convenience and affordability — made possible by a lack of overhead costs that would otherwise result in the company having to charge higher membership prices.
“We didn’t need something so formal as a WeWork or one of the others where we’d have permanent space,” said Michael Alexis, marketing director at Museum Hack, one of Spacious’ first clients. “That would be overkill for how we operate our business.”
Museum Hack has a 10-member team and meets once a week. Remote work is ingrained in the company’s culture, so they’re not seeking a permanent space. “We really celebrate and try to leverage that we are a remote team,” Alexis added.
For restaurant owners that are part of Spacious’ network, there’s also a pay-off. It’s an additional revenue stream that, at least in theory, draws in a crowd of professionals who may become regulars.
“We have a beautiful restaurant space in a beautiful neighborhood, and we weren’t using it during the daytime,” said Gianni Cionchi, general manager at MP Taverna in Brooklyn. “At no additional cost, we have an additional revenue stream.”