Working from home is wonderful in theory. But even the most motivated professionals find it’s hard to stay motivated when they work in the same place where they binge-watch The Office.
As a result, the work-from-home trend has given rise to “coworking” spaces — rentable individual workspaces in traditional office settings — that are proliferating across the country. They’re now easy to find in most major cities, and offer a wide range of office perks that can include conference rooms, collaborative spaces and, most importantly, coffee.
According to EmergentResearch/GCUC, in this year alone, experts estimate that over 18,000 coworking spaces will be opened. They expect that number to balloon to over 25,000 by 2022. And based on Global Workplace Analytics’ research, 40% of the workforce works remotely at some frequency.
So while there may be plenty of places to go, the competition could still be fierce once someone arrives. With many coworking companies like WeWork, a “shared workspace” base plan only guarantees access to the space itself. Once a person arrives in the building, they’re met with a free-for-all of other professionals hunting for the best desk in the house with everything they need (e.g., multiple monitors or adapters for their devices). Which is a problem, because when you’re minutes away from an important client call, you don’t have time to play musical chairs.
Of course, there are plans that come with an assigned seat, but they bring their own set of problems. That’s because coworking spaces are a lot like sports stadiums: when people see that a better seat is open, they grab it for themselves until someone kicks them out. But, unlike a Bears game, there is no security staff in coworking spaces to handle unruly guests. Here, it’s up to the employees to navigate the awkwardness themselves, leaving them with few options.
Or, how about this…
The employees arrive at their designated office space, ready to get down to business. But instead of stressing about where they’ll sit, they simply pull out their phone and open their new Grab Space app. As they hold it up and scan the office, its augmented reality (AR) feature shows them floating markers over desks where the available desks are in real time, and even what features those spaces have. They notice a window seat is open with a 24-inch monitor plus two USB ports, and they don’t hesitate — they tap “reserve”, and just like that, the seat is theirs.
Say someone wants to reserve a space for less than a full day? No problem. The AR-based app allows users to book a desk in half-hour increments, similar to how you reserve a conference room in Microsoft Outlook. It even features alerts that vibrate their phone when their allotted time is about to expire.
With a digital solution like Grab Space, they can still get all the advantages of a shared workspace. Meeting spaces. Reliable internet.
And again, coffee.
But the best part might be the things they won’t get, like uncomfortable conversations with strangers about who should sit where, or for how long. For the team at Vokal who conceptualized Grab Space, that convenience is its biggest selling point. However, coworking spaces are only the beginning of its potential. Its easy-to-use interface could also be a perfect add-on feature for parking apps like ParkWhiz and SpotHero. It could also hold its own in the events space, using AR to help concertgoers find their seats in the dark.
With the problem space identified, this consumer-focused solution prototype has a number of potential use cases in which brands can connect to their target consumers in a helpful, meaningful way, creating a product that people would not only love, but need and use daily.