Are you getting ‘cabin fever’? Are the living room walls beginning to move in on you? Has WFH turned from being a delightful novelty to being a dreary ‘same old, same old? When isolation goes too far its time to have a change of office scenery in this ‘new normal’ office life. Two important parts of the struggling hospitality industry are here to help you overcome WFH blues. Your friendly local pub and your under-utilised luxury hotel. Both benefit from wifi and both can provide day-round refreshments. After all its what they are there for.
Dozens of pubs are encouraging people who have been working remotely to escape the four walls of their home office and work from their local instead.
The schemes, which typically cost £10-20 for unlimited tea, coffee and sandwich lunch, help landlords to make up for lost revenue after months spent closed or working under Covid-19 restrictions such as the 10 pm curfew in England and the closure of pubs and restaurants in central Scotland until Sunday.
According to a recent article in the Times the King’s Head pub in Winchmore Hill, north London, for example, offers customers unlimited coffee, lunch, and a pint of beer or a glass of wine at the end of the day for £20. “People who have taken the offer up are staying longer than they otherwise would have,” said Gary Willison, the pub’s general manager. “We had someone here yesterday who worked here and then met their families here at the end of the day.” When you are paying a set fee you feel less like you are ‘table-blocking’ the way one often felt pre-Covid at the local Pret or Cafe Nero.
Hotels too are getting in on the act, they have been having a terrible time with their regular clientele not filling the rooms or keeping the bars busy. Another article in the telegraph confirmed this ‘Cabin Fever’ trend.
According to Melanie Marcombe, head of sales at Dayuse.com, a platform that allows users to book a hotel for hours rather than overnight, the site has seen an explosion in hotels offering working packages; not surprising, given that worldwide most are currently operating at below 30 per cent occupancy – far lower than what they need to survive. Normally Dayuse.com was the ‘philanderer’s friend ‘ with afternoon rooms being let out for illicit trysts now they are being used by bored executives for less erotic purposes. That cute boutique hotel that 6 months ago offered an afternoon of discreet naughtiness now offers an afternoon of high-speed wifi and coffee and biscuits on tap, plus the convenience of meeting space -all socially isolated of course, and relief from cabin fever.
Large, urban hotels aimed at business travellers have been among the hardest hit. Since the beginning of lockdown, Marcombe says they have received more than 1,000 requests from hotels around the world asking to join the platform – which now features 6,000 hotels in 25 countries. Elsewhere Joanne Taylor-Stagg, general manager at the Athenaeum, – one of London’s most exclusive hotels – admits that occupancy is currently “in the teens” percentage-wise (at this time of year they’d usually be around 80 per cent full) and certainly, so they are more than happy to cut a deal with the work from home community. Remember, that when your main office functions are professionally outsourced to the Virtual office team at Hold Everything it doesn’t really matter where you plug your trusty Macbook or drink your cappuccino. So why not explore some fresh surroundings and make these dismal times that bit more cheerful? Also bear in mind, that these are all legitimate business expenses that your accountant will probably look favourably on.