Being a freelancer can result in working in all manner of environments as we strive to find the ideal circumstances in which to be most productive.
Expense, convenience, ambience and noise pollution are all contributing factors to disrupting that creative flow – yet Spacehop, a practically embryonic London-based start-up, believe they may have found a solution to at least some of the issues that plague the freelance community.
Spacehop have positioned themselves as 'Airbnb for the workspace'; attempting to provide those in need of a space with a more comfortable and affordable resolution to problems they encounter when trying to find an appropriate base from which work. Rather than solely offer rental office properties, Spacehop have presented a unique proposition: an opportunity to work alone, or communally, in the home of a stranger for about the cost of spending a day in a coffee shop, or sometimes at an even cheaper rate.
So could your living room or kitchen be a next generation workspace? We spoke to Matt Beatty, who quit his job as a doctor to found Spacehop, to find out about the launch of his business, his workspace experiences, and why his company’s offering is something different when it comes to a place of work.
How did you come up with the concept for Spacehop?
I had the idea for Spacehop when I was nipping out to the shops. I live beside a major co-working facility in London, I got speaking to a couple of the workers who informed me they were paying over £400 p/month for a desk when they only used it a couple of days every week. I playfully joked that they could come and work beside me for the day at the kitchen table for a tenner each...the idea was born.
You actually only just launched. How have things gone since then?
The company officially launched on the January 6th 2016 and we've had over 100 homeowners apply to list their space and dozens of workers taking advantage of their facilities so things are moving exceptionally quickly.
'Airbnb for the workspace' is how you've positioned yourself - was the success of Airbnb the key source of inspiration?
Yes, it's very encouraging to see how quickly they've progressed although I truly believe Spacehop has many advantages for homeowners when compared to Airbnb so it’s important to highlight the differences.
The holiday letting market is so saturated now making it more and more difficult for homeowners to get bookings on Airbnb whereas the freelancer population is booming with limited spaces for these people. With Spacehop there isn’t the same chore of cleaning up after the guests or changing of bed sheets, you also have your home to yourself in the evenings. Finally, homes can typically fit in many more workers than they have bedrooms meaning you can make a lot more money with Spacehop!
What are your own workspace experiences, and how much did those experiences influence your idea?
Prior to this I’ve worked in every type of work environment. Libraries, coffee shops, corporate offices, co-working facilities. I suppose experiencing them all has helped me better understand what’s on offer and see the positives / negatives of each.
For the past six months I’ve worked in my friend’s home and found it to be a liberating experience. The relaxed yet quiet atmosphere means that not only do I enjoy working there; I find that I’m more productive than I’ve ever been.
Why would paying £15 - £20 per day to be in someone’s living room be better than spending that in a coffee shop?
Coffee shops as a place to work aren’t for me. I find the noise and interruptions annoying and feel pressured to continuously buy cups of coffee which doesn't help with my already problematic caffeine addiction. I take a lot of calls when I work and it’s impossible to have a private conversation in a coffee shop. Regardless of the above when I worked in coffee shops I regularly spend more than that. Anyone who regularly works in coffee shops will tell you it’s easy to spend over £20 in a single day.
With Spacehop, are we looking at the next generation of workspaces?
The increase in the freelance population and the emergence of co-working facilities combined with our early success lead us to believe we can play in significant part in how people work.