French hospitality company Accor is tapping into the co-working boom with its own chain of communal work spaces under a new brand called Wojo. Anthony Pearce reports
Pitched as the future of the office, co-working spaces have grown exponentially over the last decade, with analysts predicting they could account for 2 per cent of the US market by 2020.
Now, Accor, which is the umbrella company for brands including Raffles, Fairmont, Mama Shelter and Mondrian, has unveiled ambitious plans to introduce 1,200 of its own co-working spaces across Europe in the next three years. In so doing, it wants to become the biggest co-working provider on the continent.
Wojo, which was previously known as Nextdoor, is a joint venture between the hotel giant and real-estate developers Bouygues Immobilier.
The brand is split into three categories – Wojo Spots, Wojo Corners and Wojo Sites. For regular users, there is a monthly subscription.Wojo Spots are being installed across Accor’s portfolio of economy, mid-scale and luxury hotels, allowing people to work in on-site bars, restaurants and lobbies, even if they are not staying at the hotel. Accor says that more than 150 Spots are being rolled out across Paris.
Complete with secure wifi connections, the spaces mean digital nomads can work for free, all day, with the “guarantee of personalised service and a friendly atmosphere,” says Accor.
Meanwhile, Wojo Corners are dedicated co-working spaces in hotels (a step up from the 20th-century business centre), as well as train stations, airports and shopping centres.
Aimed at those “seeking an informal and comfortable work environment”, the first Corner opened at the Mercure Paris Montmatre Sacre-Coeur hotel last year. 100 more are to arrive by 2022.
Then there are Wojo Sites, standalone co-working spaces “over several thousand square meters in dedicated buildings, combining communal zones (bars, lounges, kitchens) with shared spaces, meeting rooms and dedicated offices,” according to Accor.
There are currently ten locations open in Ile-de-France and Lyon; Accor intends to open more than 50 locations by 2022. At Wojo Sites, entrepreneurs and SMEs will be able to rent more permanent desks and private office space.CEO of Accor Europe, Franck Gervais, says: “We have the assets (brands, spaces, teams), we have the services (restaurants, bars, meeting spaces) and we are open 24/7. By participating in Wojo’s ambitious development, we are optimising the use of these assets and are creating value for our owners by being open to a new type of customer – co-workers.”
Currently, Wojo has eight hubs in the Paris region and two in Lyon, spread over 50,000 sqm, with more than 5,000 members.
Accor says that, between now and 2022, the co-working company will welcome more than 40,000 members and have more than 1,200 addresses, including more than 1,000 Spots, 100 Corners and 50 Sites.
Stéphane Bensimon, CEO of Wojo, says: “Our ambition is to be the leading player in ‘workspitality’ by developing, all over the world, a large network of places, to create unique work experiences, with a full range of services, designed to promote pleasure, performance and connection in a talented workforce.”