What would the office of the digital future look like?
I will be traveling to the US later this year and will be staying there for a couple of months. Travel is sorted, but my accommodation is not – yet.
If I stay in a hotel or an Airbnb, it would be very costly to rent for two months. If I lease an apartment, from what I know, it must be at least for a year. I can’t afford either of them.
I am bartering with my US friends: if they host me for a week each, and I will answer all their blockchain questions. Could there a business opportunity hidden in there?
In an industry like this, I am always asking: Is it just me, or is this a real problem? I immediately Googled “pre-furnished, medium-term housing” and got several results.
So, there is some action happening in the space, but I still couldn’t find accommodation in the US.
Upon further research, I realized that pre-furnished medium-term stays are kind of a norm in Europe and South America, but it’s a trend that has yet to explode in the US.
But I firmly believe that it won’t be the case forever. Why do I think that? No large existing market makes me say so, but I’m calling it because of a trend I have been witnessing for some time now.
I have a friend who lives in Austin, where he has a home. But every month, for two weeks, he stays in an Airbnb – in Austin itself.
When he told me about it, my question was, “Are you nuts? Why would you spend extra money to stay in the same city as your home?”
He immediately replied, “Are you nuts? Why would you spend money and still live in the same place all your life?”
His answer made me stop and think. “It’s not about the city, it’s about the environment. I am bored of the routine,” he said.
“One day, I want to travel the world and work on the go. Until I have that much money, I stay in different Airbnbs to break the routine.”
It tells something about the current generation. This generation loves traveling. Don’t mistake the longing for traveling with the lack of passion for work. We’ve just realized that work doesn’t require us to sit in one chair to type on a laptop everyday.
When work means typing on the laptop, it doesn’t matter from which city you type from.
Living a nomadic life means that you don’t belong anywhere and you belong everywhere.
If you’ve ever encountered people in digital making the move to a nomadic lifestyle, you must have come across Peter Levels. He calls himself a “serial maker”, travels around the world and builds amazing things.
The current generation doesn’t look for a routine life; they look out for a “Levels’ Life”.
This trend is only going to pick up, and the companies that support it will grow to become some of the most significant companies in the travel industry.
Medium-term stays are one of the niche problems that have yet to be solved. I am sure efforts to rent out furnished and fully equipped apartments for a few months will come with its own operational cost.
For example, the probability of guests breaking something in the house is a lot higher if they stay for a few months than just a few days. But that’s where the opportunities to optimize operations come in.
Who might be the customers?
I have never worked extensively when traveling for business. The most I can do when on the move is to keep my inbox empty. I have a maker’s mindset, and I cannot juggle a hundred things in my head all the day. I keep my business travels short.
But when it comes to traveling across the globe, I want to leverage my time in the country as much as possible. International business travelers would be the target audience for such a product, but you’d have to take care of some particular issues then. For example, a practical problem might be the hassle of international payments. Could that be solved using cryptocurrencies? Maybe.
As I was researching the landscape, I realized there’s one company that was already doing something similar to what I had in my head: Stayawhile.
(For full disclosure, I reached out to them, we got talking and I ended up advising them on their ICO. They are already operational, have raised VC money and are making revenues. I spoke to their CEO Janine on a podcast to discuss everything about Stayawhile here.)
But this validates the problem even more. It is an underserved niche, and I am sure we are just at the starting of a revolution.
Our offices in the future will not be in a closed building but on an open beach.
Mark my words.
This article was republished with permission from Unmade.