You don’t need a magical 8-ball to know that the future of the American office is a blur.
After all, some of us miss our cubicles and our coworkers, while some of us would love to sit back and relax in the home office forever, even if the pandemic finally decides to really go back. Many of us are caught in a work glut where we divide our time according to schedules that have yet to be determined while our employers continue to pay rent for underutilized office space.
The Portland startup Radious finds itself in this breach. Your elevator pitch? It’s Airbnb
(except for the font on their website, frankly) but for offices.
Founder Amina Moreau bets that many people who stay remote will nonetheless seek safe, private spaces to gather together and collaborate with colleagues – as opposed to hotel conference rooms, noisy cafes, and semi-private co-working spaces – and they would prefer not to commute far to get there.
Your startup is in beta now in Portland with a handful of office space for rent scattered across the city and suburbs. The goal is to get full neighborhood coverage, says Moreau, and coordinate with employers who then provide the service for their employees and take the bill.
For hosts, a few office-friendly upgrades – an Eames chair here, a WiFi booster there – can pay off, especially with prices based on the number of people who will be using the space. At one of the beta locations, for example, up to six colleagues can book a decorated garden and picnic table in North Portland, with access to an indoor studio with a workspace, kitchenette, and bathroom for $ 202 – a little more, Moreau says, than that Owner would have charged for one night. (The price goes down with the number of people using the property; in this particular case, you can also scale for access to a second indoor workspace in a restored Airstream trailer parked in the yard.)
Other locations that have signed up so far include an air-conditioned converted train cart on the Central Industrial Eastside that can accommodate up to 14 people and a fancy ADU near Adidas headquarters in North Portland with access to a hammock in the back yard, if you need a break. They are actively recruiting more potential hosts and also reaching out to property managers.
“A lot of Airbnb hosts are disaffected – the risk, the COVID parties, the wear and tear,” says Moreau. “These are professionals who come to your room for work, not recreation.”
Workplace amenities are clearly laid out in lists, from exact WiFi speeds for downloads and uploads, whether whiteboards and other office supplies are on hand, and whether you can connect HDMI and USB cables to monitors on site. There is even information on the potential for environmental noise in the neighborhood from construction sites or traffic.
“This idea arose from a difficult situation and offers people a safe escape.” says Moreau. “You can see people again and their work is valued more. We don’t cut a tree for this, we don’t make any new physical products here. We take unused things and use them more efficiently – that doesn’t make the world worse, hopefully it makes things better. “