Via Wise (home) workers can book a workplace in the catering industry: ‘We see this as a new fringe benefit’

If you want to exchange working from home for working in a coffee shop or cafe after the relaxation, you can do so after mid-June via Wise. At least, that is the hope of the founders of this new business booking platform, Florien Smits and Roos Zondervan. With Wise, employees and freelancers will be able to reserve a workplace at affiliated catering and other locations as soon as the app is live. For the provisional price of two cups of coffee per hour (six euros), they can then continue to work – undisturbed by frustrated servers. The local neighborhood pub or community center becomes your coworking space for a few hours. And if it is up to Wise’s negotiations with employers, working in the coffee shop becomes a nice perk for the home worker. Business Insider spoke with one of the founders of Wise, Florien Smits, about the revenue model, the need for Wise and what a new lockdown could mean for the app.

Do not miss: Unemployment benefits in the catering industry are falling sharply after easing: unemployment is falling again.

Paying for a reserved seat in a coffee shop. Where does that idea come from?

Smits: “Roos Zondervan and I got into a conversation about the changed use of the hospitality industry. Roos has a successful history in operating catering businesses and I come from the coworking industry.”

“In the past it was something you went to eat in the evening, nowadays it is a place where you can go all day long. People now also come here to read a book or magazine, or to work.”

“An important trigger for us was the time between the two lockdowns. We saw that especially the home workers dived into the catering industry to work, to get away from home for a while. Then we thought: this will be the fastest growing target group for the catering industry.”

“We think that catering establishments may not deal with that target group in the right way. Some restaurants will want to ban laptops, while we think: facilitate those users better and give them a real place to work. In essence, we argue for target group segmentation in the hospitality industry.”

Do not miss: New bill: home worker has the right to be unreachable – Council of State does not think such a law is necessary.

How does that work in practice? Do you pay per hour? How much? Does that vary during off-peak and peak hours?

“In any case, you get a cup of coffee on the house in the catering industry. You pay for the use of the chair. We start with a flat hourly rate to test the market. For the roll-out in Rotterdam, we use six euros per hour, the price of two cups of coffee. We have also compared it with other flexible workplaces where you pay an average of 18 euros per half-day. So it’s an average price.”

“As far as we are concerned, it will eventually be possible for the catering industry and other locations to apply different rates. Seats that are cheaper during off-peak hours or more expensive during peak times. We want to give locations the freedom to determine their own hourly rate and what goes with it.We see our platform as a third pillar in the ‘work anywhere’ domain, next to the office and home.”

As far as we are concerned it will eventually be possible

Do not miss: 13 tips to get better at small talk.

What is Wise’s business model? How are you going to make money with this concept?

“The vast majority of the hourly rate goes to the locations. We receive 20 percent of that.”

You have been working on Wise since September 2020. How do you finance the startup?

“We were helped by an investor and now we are doing it with our own money. After the start in mid-June, we want to start attracting growth capital.”

What about catering visitors who spontaneously sit down to work without making a reservation via your platform?

“Wise does not want to be a means to make catering companies less hospitable. The platform is specifically intended to better facilitate business users. We leave it to the catering business how many workplaces they want to offer via with Wise. And also how they interact with other laptop users.”

“Some businesses want to regulate laptop use. Four spots and then it’s full. Other locations don’t mind if someone is working for half an hour. If it takes longer, they can ask if the customers want to use Wise.”

Do not miss: Minister Bas van ‘t Wout of Economic Affairs is struggling with a burnout – musical chairs in the outgoing cabinet.

“Speaking of options, in a Wise place you won’t be interrupted every 15 minutes asking if you want another drink. And you don’t run the risk of being sent away for lunch at half past eleven. As far as we are concerned, there are no hard rules. As a catering business, you let Wise work for you.”

What does Wise require from locations in terms of investments?

“No. The most important thing we ask is that locations think about how they facilitate and group workplaces. That they are not placed next to the main entrance or kitchen. There must be good WiFi, sufficient power points and there must be good coffee.”

It sounds like Wise will only work for large catering businesses.

“This also works to regulate seating in smaller establishments, so that not all twenty places are taken up by laptops. For example, an owner can only open four workstations during off-peak hours.”

Wise also conducts interviews with employers. Why?

Do not miss: This single American mother used $1,200 government check to build a $1 million business in 10 months.

“In the employer landscape, travel costs are minimized. Employees travel less and the business community has now learned that this can be saved. They now know that employees can be trusted when they work from home or anywhere.”

“If we think from the perspective of the Wise user – 25 to 40 years old, living in the city – he does not always have the ideal working from home situation. Many people need to work in a different place.”

“Wise is a real benefit for employers and employees. Where you used to get a lease car, you can now get Wise budget to work elsewhere once a week. You can check in at different places in each city.When you surround yourself with other workers who have no interest in what you do, it stimulates your creativity and thinking ability in other ways.”

Wise is a real benefit for employers and employees

Surely employees can go to a coffee place themselves, without the boss knowing about it?

“But then they pay for the coffee themselves. An employer does not pay it. With Wise we are talking about costs of a workplace. Expenses that are deductible.”

Do not miss: 6 ways to find out if your side hustle can pay off in the long run.

Wise is now just a name and a website. When are you going live?

“We are aiming for mid-June. The platform is currently being built and we are busy expanding the locations. So far we have more than 40 of them. In the first phase of the rollout in June, we will focus on Rotterdam, where more than ten locations are already connected. We are currently still in talks with employers, users and investors. We are working on everything you can imagine in a company with big ambitions.”

How big are those ambitions exactly?

“By the end of 2021 we want to have a well-functioning platform and be present in all major cities. With a good base of users and hopefully a number of investors.”

“Wise is super scalable. We are already in talks about locations abroad. In theory we would like to conquer the world. But first we want to do well in the Netherlands with great collaborations with related parties. There are so many opportunities for Wise in the world of locations, real estate and concepts.”

Are you not very dependent on the corona situation? Suppose locations have to close again or allow fewer people in?

“I think Roos and I are innovative and creative enough to solve that. With the app, we can help locations regulate the flow of people in other ways.”

You can’t change into a general reservation system for the catering industry with the push of a button?

“Who knows. The past year has seen a lot of technological development in the hospitality market. We focus on a different market. The business user looking for business facilities. There are plenty of table book systems.”

  • Working from home with your children: 10 tips to combine that
  • Placing a garden office as the work-from-home solution? These are the legal rules
  • These 5 companies provide everything for working from home: from a folding workplace to a coffee subscription.
Author: Jobly