How to Turn Your Restaurant into a Coworking Space

The rising number of remote workers and freelancers is creating opportunities for restaurants to cater to those looking for a pleasant place to work. A growing quantity of coworking spaces, like WeWork and Servcorp, often offer expensive membership options. This leaves many freelancers without a quiet spot and inviting community workspace. So if your chic restaurant sits idly during the day until dinner time, or if your coffee shop is looking for creative ways to boost sales and community outreach, turning your space into a coworking concept during the day can be a worthwhile move. Below are some facts and useful tips to consider.

What Is a Coworking Space?

What Is a Coworking Space?

A coworking space is where freelancers, entrepreneurs, and small startup companies who don't spend 9-5 in a traditional office setting can come and work. These spaces can provide community and a place conducive to productivity for independent workers that might otherwise work at home or in a busy cafe. The term 'coworking space' has become popularized in recent years as startups curate environments to facilitate coworking.

Why Turn Your Restaurant Into a Coworking Space?

In a space that has already been designed to cater to the satisfaction of guests, capitalizing on unused space in your dining room can be a source of revenue. Below we tell you why you should consider turning your restaurant into a coworking concept to take advantage of off hours or slow periods.

Coworking Space in Restaurants

  1. There is a growing market of people looking for working spaces. 43% of Americans spend at least some time working remotely, and the number of freelancers is predicted to become the U.S. workforce majority within a decade. You can respond to a growing need for space by offering these individuals an elegant coworking space.
  2. Your dining room is already expertly designed for optimal guest experience. You’ll get more use (and profit) out of a seating and dining room design that you put a lot of effort (and money) into creating. So, especially if your restaurant does sit empty until dinnertime, remote workers can enjoy your eatery’s theme, furniture, and feel.
  3. You can up your restaurant’s bottom line. It costs money to heat, cool, and light your space during the day, especially if chefs are in the kitchen food prepping. By offering a limited menu, membership option, or hourly fee, you can improve your restaurant’s bottom line if you boost sales when your space normally sits unused or is particularly slow.
  4. A cheaper, quieter spot can easily compete with coworking spaces and loud, crammed coffee shops. With a growing number of young freelancers, an affordable community workspace is especially desirable. You also may wonder if the cafe around the corner might be a competitive spot of choice for a telecommuter, but without reliable space to sit or quiet for concentration, coffee shops are not always ideal.

Can Coworking Spaces Be Profitable?

Since restaurants already have many necessary amenities for a conducive working space, introducing the coworking concept can be profitable. Below, we provide logistical suggestions for attracting and keeping guests who will use your restaurant as a coworking space.

  • Sign your restaurant up with a company like DropDesk that turns restaurant dining rooms into coworking spaces. Many include hospitality staff and refreshments, minimizing extra effort on your part. You are essentially renting out your restaurant dining room, and you get paid per member who uses the space.
  • Create your own membership program. Charge guests a reasonable, competitive rate per month, or base it on the number of days per week a patron would like access to your space to work. You could simply provide the space for guests or serve a limited menu included in the membership or as an added cost.
  • Promote your restaurant as a coworking space during the day with no monthly fee. Offer a limited menu, flat rates that include coffee and use of space, or charge patrons hourly. The elimination of a monthly fee might be a more attractive option for young workers, students, temporary freelancers, or those looking to try out a coworking space.
  • Create a rewards system or include special offers. Even if you are not offering a monthly membership option, but you are charging per hour, you can include a free meal, drink, muffin, or other food item to reward patrons that stay for a certain amount of time. Or, offer certain deals at different times of the day, like early bird specials or pre-happy hour drinks. This can improve customer loyalty, encourage guests to stay longer which may increase revenue, and can create a more enjoyable overall experience for remote workers and freelancers who will want to come back.

How to Create an Ideal Coworking Space in Restaurants

renting out your restaurant dining room

Below we give you some ideas to easily create a peaceful coworking space while creating a low-labor environment for you. Many companies that turn your restaurant into a coworking space include these amenities, so if you are joining one of these startups, be sure to identify what they include.

  • Create a music playlist that is conducive to a working environment. Instrumental music, classical music, and calm music are all excellent choices.
  • Upgrade your internet/wifi options.
  • Include a printer or scanner.
  • Ensure adequate outlet availability or provide portable charging stations.
  • Remove napkins and cups from tables to provide workspace.
  • Consider the viability of your table setups. Is the layout conducive to a variety of independent workers and potential collaborators? Are the seats comfortable for freelancers sitting for long periods of time?
  • Provide a specialized menu. This can include breakfast sandwiches and salads, baked goods, coffee, or any combination that makes the most sense to maximize profit and minimize added costs.
  • Set up a self-serve coffee station, water area, or snack table.
  • Place trashcans in a visible spot, so patrons can easily clean up after themselves, reducing your staff’s cleanup efforts afterwards.

While entrepreneurs might find themselves with astronomical costs or logistical hoops when starting a coworking space from scratch, your restaurant or cafe is already equipped with most of the essentials. Whether you are opening a restaurant or looking for creative ideas to improve sales at your restaurant, engaging with an up-and-coming community of individuals can be a wholesome venture to generate business.

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