Today’s article is a guest post by the famous travelling bloggers, Erin and Jay of bnbNomad, and it’s about a subject I’ve wanted to address for quite some time – setting up your Airbnb or vacation rental to be work friendly. No better people to ask than Erin and Jay, who travel full-time, work remotely, and live entirely in Airbnbs. During their adventures they’ve seen the very best of what Airbnb has to offer, especially with regard to work friendly set-ups. They have the scoop on how to appoint your vacation rental for working guests.
Hi there! We’re Erin and Jay, a couple who travels full-time, works remotely, and lives entirely in Airbnbs with our lanky pup Odin. As perpetual Airbnb guests, we’ve found that 1 Chic Retreat’s approach to crafting vacation rentals is spot on. So much hinges on interior design: our booking decisions, our reviews, even the places we feature on our own blog, bnbNomad. When we walk into a true Airbnb gem, the colors, the textures, the furniture, the lighting all culminate to create a fabulous rush of excitement that primes us for a five-star stay.
But we quickly discovered that even the most spectacular vacation rentals often fall short when it comes to doubling as a productive work environment. Our evenings and weekends might be chocked-full of the typical tourist activity, but during the day, we’re both in work mode. While entrepreneurs have been running around as digital nomads since digital became a thing, corporate employers have recently started to offer remote work opportunities as well, enabling folks like us to take the leap into full-time travel.
Airbnbs are perfectly positioned to capitalize on this new influx of guests looking to fuse travel and work. After countless workdays in Airbnbs, we’ve teased apart our own experience to identify the best productivity-boosting hosting tricks. These five design strategies will transform your vacation rental into the stellar workspace guests like us can’t wait to find.
1) FUEL PRODUCTIVITY WITH INSPIRATION
Beautifully designed spaces naturally fuel productivity. There’s just something about waking up in an imaginative, artistic space that tickles that innate creativity nerve and inspires us to sit down and crank out some quality work. This eagerness to produce is what the remote workforce is after.
If folks like us were just looking for their ideal home office, they’d set it up at a permanent address. Instead, they’re wading through listing after listing on the hunt for a uniquely uplifting and motivating place, somewhere that has the kind of jaw-dropping beauty that will enhance their work as well as their travels. When we set out to find our next remote work spot, here are the three inspirational criteria that we check off first.
- ADVERTISE LIGHT AND BRIGHT
Airy, peaceful…we’re looking for a workspace that breathes. Minimize heavy elements while maximizing natural light to create a space that is undeniably light and bright. If you’re wondering where to get started, 1 Chic Retreat’s wildflower framework strikes the perfect balance of an open-air feel that never slips into bland or boring. Ensure that this breezy quality comes through in your listing’s photos, especially in your cover photo. The more serene the preview, the more clicks you’ll get.
- CREATE AN INTENTIONAL AND COHESIVE DESIGN
From modern sleek to country clutter, the interior designs we’ve adored have spanned the gamut. But our appreciation consistently stumbles when the space feels unintentional or disjointed.
If the Airbnb is a haphazard mismatch of household leftovers, any purposeful, resort-like quality immediately vanishes. And even if the design is intentional, changes that are too dramatic from room to room cause a jarring visceral reaction. Whatever your style, create an intentional and cohesive design that glides your guests throughout your space. Take advantage of small transitional spots like entryways or hallways to connect the interior design dots. This fluidity not only encourages bookings, but is incredibly effective primer for a productive day.
- Decorate with Inspiring Touches
When our eyes or mind wander in a workspace, we love to be greeted by inspiring touches that loop us back into creative thought patterns. Amusing coffee table books, intriguing art, artistic area rugs, even unique pieces of furniture do the trick. No one spends more time soaking in the detailed design decisions than guests working in your space all day. Pamper their aesthetic sensibilities and you’ll provide fodder for their work.
2) CRAFT AN ERGONOMIC WORKSPACE
This is where the rubber hits the road: your laptop-friendly workspace. Guests will spend many consecutive hours working from your space, and the right physical workspace can create a powerful, productive flow or inflict excruciating days of restless fidgeting. In order to craft an ergonomic workspace, form has to follow function. Here are four tactics to knock it out of the park.
- OPT FOR STURDY, DEEP FURNITURE
Beautiful but impractical furniture won’t cut it for remote work guests. We’ve spent full weeks teetering on flimsy bar stools and attempting to type on wobbly tables. Needless to say, our focus and output suffered. The best workspaces we’ve encountered were the epitome of sturdy. Solid surface, solid seat. Depth here is key. A thin countertop or shallow writing desk might be a great spot for handwritten brainstorming, but quickly becomes uncomfortable during long stints with a laptop. A deep work surface encourages a comfortable typing posture while also offering enough room for a notebook, a cup of coffee, or a few books.
- PICK AN ADJUSTABLE CHAIR
Different folks need different heights between the seat and the working surface. An adjustable chair can transform your guest’s posture and save them from chronic neck pains during their stay. If your laptop-friendly workspace doubles as the eating area, include a few seat cushions to create flexibility. And be sure those seats have back support! Backless bar stools lose their aesthetic appeal within the first hour of actual work.
- DOUBLE CHECK FOR FLATNESS
Just like an uneven table disrupts the flow of dinner, an uneven workspace disrupts the flow of work. Smooth tabletops make writing and typing easy and comfortable, while rough surfaces cause laptops to wiggle and pens to poke through paper. Make sure the furniture itself is flat and wobble-free. If your floors are uneven, just tuck a few furniture stabilizing pads underneath the legs to level out the workspace.
- CLEAR THE CLUTTER
A clear workspace encourages your guests to sit right down and start working. Knick knacks, however engaging, will either become distractions or get set aside during your guest’s stay. Our favorite work surface had just two items on it: a box of tissues and a tall lamp. Also, many working guests may require video conferences during their stay. The less distracting the view over their shoulder, the more productive those meetings will be. Keep your clutter-free approach in mind when it comes to the walls directly behind the chair.
3) FLIP THE CUBE FARM
After your space inspires and your workspace rocks, fine-tune your Airbnb for the remote worker with this rule of thumb. First, picture the design of a corporate cube farm.
Now do the exact opposite.
We, like so many folks, worked for years in windowless offices and seas of cubicles. Help your guests relish everything that’s different from those cookie-cutter work environments, and encourage them to customize their surroundings to their heart’s content.
- HIGHLIGHT THE VARIETY OF WORK SPACES
While your Airbnb may have a primary laptop-friendly workspace, be sure to highlight all the places from which a guest might work in your photo series. Some tasks are definitely suited for that sturdy, flat work surface, but others can be knocked out while kicking back in a comfortable chair, perched at a breakfast counter, or perhaps stretched out in a hammock. Maybe you even have somewhere a guest could stand and work.
We’ve been especially impressed by hosts who have enhanced secondary work spots like these. One added an accent table that easily slid up to upholstered chairs in the living room to offer a flat work surface in a more relaxed environment. Another host lined their kitchen counter with super sturdy, high-backed bar stools. This variety can tilt the scale your way during booking decisions because potential guests know they’ll be able to move around your space during the day and stay fresh.
- CREATE FLEXIBLE LIGHTING
We adore places with lighting designed around flexibility. The more potential combinations of light, the better for remote work. In the cube farm, lights just come in florescent, have one setting, and are always on. But in a thoughtful Airbnb, remote workers can tweak the overhead fixtures, soft lamps, and window curtains to create the perfect mood for the work at hand.
Remember, a guest working remotely spends seven to nine hours a day staring at a computer screen and could be working at any time throughout the day. Flexible lighting makes early morning meetings or late night power sessions much easier to take in stride, and keeps our eyes from getting tuckered out.
- FEATURE A WINDOW
Glance around the typical office, and it’s clear that big windows correspond with big titles. Make your guests feel CEO special and indulge them with workspace windows. If it’s at all possible to position a work surface looking out a window, line up your furniture accordingly and highlight this special touch in your photo reel. Layer a sheer curtain behind your regular set to allow guests to minimize distractions if need be without losing the natural light. When your guests look up from a task, they’ll feel calm and refreshed.
We once spent a month on a beautiful farm in upstate New York, and all the work spaces were positioned near windows. It was hard to get too lathered up about workday frustrations when a quick glance out the window included rolling hills of fall leaves and a barnyard with a frolicking baby goat.
4) BLUR THE INSIDE/OUTSIDE LINE
Set up your guests to feel connected to their new location instead of isolated while they’re working. The more permeable the boundary between the inside and the outside, the less stuck your working guests will feel. Here are some of our favorite tactics we’ve seen hosts use to bring their location to us.
- Incorporate Fresh Smells and Green Sights
Help your guests sidestep a stuffy work environment with some fresh air from screened windows or doors. Many hosts make a great first impression by preemptively opening a window or two for us before we check in. In colder weather, we’ve also been greeted instead by scented candles or a wood-burning fireplace. Invite the greenery inside too. We understand that winter is a difficult time to bring in fresh flowers, and so we don’t mind artificial ones, as long as they look real. 1 Chic Retreat has a fabulous piece on selecting the right kind of faux flowers for your Airbnb. A few bursts of green enrich any workspace, even if they’re just beyond our windows. We once enjoyed a week looking out a hanging planters overflowing with petunias.
- BRING YOUR LOCATION INSIDE
Our favorite Airbnbs have created an interior design that compliments the external location. Ask yourself what brings guests to your neck of the woods. The food? The culture? The beach? Look for small opportunities to incorporate these unique qualities into your Airbnb. Local coffee, spices, cookbooks, art, patterns, flowers, or perhaps a coffee table book about your region. Small touches like these tether your guests to their new location even while they spend their days working.
- Get Your Guests Outside
If your guests are lucky enough to have a bit of outdoor space to themselves, spruce up that area with a few work-friendly additions. Test that the wifi reaches the area, make sure the seating has backs, and if possible, add a table. We were thrilled to discover a picnic table on the porch of a beautiful cabin in the mountains of New Mexico. For a full month, we enjoyed our morning coffee and answered email from a sturdy work surface with a stunning view.
- EXPAND YOUR LOCAL GUIDE FOR WORK AND BREAK TIME
Spice up your local guide with stops tailored to remote workers. First, double check that you have nearby walking routes outlined. A lunchtime stroll can do wonders for afternoon productivity. Secondly, rack your brain for the best workspaces in your community. Include a few coffee shops with plenty of seating and do a quick search to see if any shared workspaces have cropped up near you. Finally, jot down the closest place to print documents and ship packages. The average guest might not care about the nearby FedEx, but your remote workers will be blown away by your thoughtfulness.
5) PROTECT THE FLOW
After all the effort you’ve invested in crafting a space that’s not only a top-tier vacation stop but is simultaneously conducive to full-time work, the last thing you want to do is disrupt the productive flow you’ve worked so diligently to help your guest’s find. Here are three final steps you can take to protect your guest’s workflow once they’re in it.
- Designate a Desk
Out of necessity, many Airbnb’s laptop-friendly workspace is also the kitchen table. But if your place has the space to designate even a small desk, whether it’s in the living room corner or tucked in a second bedroom, do it! For us, an actual desk is one of the quickest selling points for two reasons. First, a distinct workspace allows your guest to leave their work station set up throughout their entire stay. When an eating area doubles as the desk, your guests tear down their workspace each night before dinner and resurrect it each morning after breakfast.
Secondly, a dedicated space triggers productivity. The routine of sitting down in a space that is only associated with work helps your guests find their workflow faster and stay in it longer.
- MAKE AN OFFICE SUPPLIES BASKET
Having just a few basic office supplies near your laptop-friendly workspace can lend your guest the right tool in the right moment and protect their train of thought. Gather a few good pens and pencils, some blank and lined paper, a pad of sticky notes, and any other thoughtful touches you’d be happy to find near your desk. Also, double check that there’s an obvious electric plug nearby for laptop chargers. These amenities are so simple and yet exceedingly uncommon. (We secretly hope that someday we’ll find an Airbnb with a big, clean whiteboard near a workspace. We’re whiteboard junkies when it comes to making to-do lists, brainstorming new ideas, and outlining big projects.)
- Provide Strong and Stable Internet
Perhaps most importantly, provide strong, stable wireless internet. This is the quickest way to provide peace of mind for guests working remotely. Temperamental connections littered with glitches will kill productivity and raise questions with supervisors. The easiest way to show remote workers that your Airbnb is ready for them is to post your internet speeds in your property’s description, and finding your internet speeds only takes a minute or two. If you’re unsure how to get started, we’ve created this post that will walk you through the process step by step.
Thank you so much for reading. We’d love to hear from you! How do you set up your guests for both work and play? Tell us in the comments below. And if you’re interested in more hosting tips from our full-time guest perspective, head on over to our blog, bnbNomad. We’d love to have you join our weekly newsletter and our nomadic Airbnb adventure. Until next time, happy hosting!
The post Is Your Airbnb or Vacation Rental Ready for the Remote Workforce? appeared first on 1 Chic Retreat.