One office to go, please … Mobile Workers Still Need Physical Meeting Space


by Martin Senn, COO - Davinci Virtual Office Solutions

Today, many entrepreneurs and employees go through a work day that is definitely different from the one they experienced just a couple of years ago. Cutting-edge mobile technologies and global Internet coverage combined with powerful cloud-based resources enable them to be connected anywhere, anytime - in many ways. The mobile “always on” work style empowers workers to be far more productive while enjoying a better lifestyle with more flexibility.

This new way to work gives people the freedom to work from wherever they need to be – a big change from the traditional nine to five corporate office environment that most of us got to know so well over the past decades. I mean – Hello – who ho would not want to work from wherever they are at? Actually, more and more people are able to do so! Research indicates that the number of mobile workers will exceed 1 billion in 2011. 

While small business operators and a whole new generation of young entrepreneurs have embraced mobility in their work day quite some time ago, even the large Fortune 1000 companies are starting to rapidly implement alternative work strategies. This combined development will create a great amount of opportunity for providers that are positioned and able to offer solutions that address certain needs or challenges of a typical mobile work day.

Because mobile workers now have the ability to work almost anywhere, most of them choose not to own or to lease permanent office space and/or business infrastructure on a long term basis anymore. While they gain a lot of flexibility and significant economies of scale this way, they also lose some of the more traditional benefits of a corporate support environment. And this is exactly where the opportunities for business center operators and virtual office solutions providers are being created.

New research shows that over fifty percent of mobile workers are working with teams at organizations in other locations and almost one third of their day is being spent collaborating with each other. As a result, the communications market is exploding with many new Internet based collaboration technologies. Frequently though, mobile workers will choose to conduct in-person meetings or high-end video conference sessions to be more productive over longer periods of time. So there is still a growing need for physical meeting space.

In 2006, the global meeting space rental market size was assessed at over 25 billion dollars per year.  Last year, a collaborative project conducted for an OBCAI meeting room webinar estimated that OBC’s capture less than one percent of that market. At many business centers, the meeting space financial model turns break even at best and it is frequently is looked at as cost center. In order to better capitalize on this growing revenue opportunity, OBCs should try to address the specific needs and requirements of today’s retail meeting space customers. conducted an internal survey of retail meeting space clients that revealed some interesting trends and specific needs:

Mobile Worker Trends Meeting Space User Solution
Searching and Booking Online Online Reservation Process, Email confirmations
Mobile Online Search Mobile marketing and mobile e-commerce
Credit Card/Micro Payments Online & Onsite Credit Card processing, Instant Billing
Extended Work Schedules Extended Time Access to Meeting Facilities
Mobile Workday Location, Parking, Public Transportation, Easy Access
More Flexible Work Spaces Day Office, Lounge, Flexible Configurations for Meeting Space
Want it Now - Need it Now Instant Access to Services, Shorter Reservation Intervals
Virtual Meetings / Collaboration Video Conferencing, Conference Calling , Collaboration Tools
Internet Access Anywhere Affordable, Fast Connections, “Pay as you Go” or Included 
High-End Presentation Tools High-End Presentation Tools 


Here are just a couple of tips for OBC’s that were suggested to enhance the overall meeting experience while fostering repeat business at higher revenue targets:

  • Lobby Greeter and Client Name Board
  • Time of Day Snack and Beverage Services 
  • Catering Menus in Meeting Space & Online Ordering
  • Business Services Menus in Meeting Space & Online Ordering
  • Business Cards and Contact Info in Meeting Space
  • Personal Note/ Thank You from Manager
  • Follow up “Thank You” Email and Online Surveys
  • Repeat Promotion with E-Coupon, Referral Promos

As we were doing our research, we also did recognize an interesting difference in the demographic make-up between a retail meeting space client and a traditional virtual office client. While the virtual office client base still is made up of mostly small to midsize businesses, the retail meeting space market seems to attract many Fortune 1000 companies already.

The office business center industry is obviously very well positioned to cater to the emerging meeting space needs of mobile workers. This new opportunity certainly has the potential to become a good retail revenue stream for operators. Go book ‘em!