More than four million Australian workers are reaping the benefits of the transition to working from home, such as the extra time reclaimed from long commutes to spend with family and friends and flexible hours and dress codes.
But nine months into the pandemic, the thrill of this newfound workplace flexibility is starting to wear thin. Lack of work-life boundaries, fewer social interactions and unsuitable workspaces are some of the common problems emerging for remote workers.
As workplaces weigh up the pros and cons of having fewer people in a physical office, it looks more likely that many businesses will likely keep a hybrid home working model moving forward.
Coworking Mate, Australia’s first peer-to-peer workspace rental platform, is designed to make remote working easier in the long term.
Founder Matthew De Zen realised some people may not have the opportunity to work effectively, potentially dealing with housemates, kids or a partner who is also working from home. To fix this problem, he launched a website that will allow people with an extra workspace to rent it out to people looking to get out of the house but stay local and avoid a return to the office.
“Coworking Mate is like Airbnb but for home offices. Everyone has a home, but not everyone has an office at home,” Mr De Zen said.
“With remote working representing the biggest shift in the Australian workforce since World War Two, we need to be ready for the changes this will bring.”
The site is designed to allow anyone with extra space – such as homeowners, cafe owners and commercial landlords – the opportunity to list it and rent it out to workers by the hour, day or week.
While several companies offer co-working spaces in major cities around the world, Coworking Mate’s point of difference is putting the power and profit back into the hands of the average person in an Australian first.
“Our users can rent out their home office to people who don’t have a suitable place to work remotely, helping them get work done and also earning money for themselves in the process. For many people their home is their biggest asset, why not have it make money for you?” Mr De Zen said.
Buying from and supporting local business was a big trend that rose out of the pandemic lockdowns, with small businesses the world over struggling from low patronage. Mr De Zen sees Coworking Mate as a continuation of this trend, allowing many to stay local, support local, and spend locally through the working week.
Coworking Mate is currently recruiting Earlybird spaces in Melbourne and is set to officially launch in January 2021. Mr De Zen hopes to expand into Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Darwin in the next 18 months.
“The time is right for Australian’s to get their freedom back and realise they can work wherever they want. If they need an affordable workspace nearby, Coworking Mate will have it.”
From 2021, a Coworking Mate basic account will start at $29 per month and offer hosts the opportunity to advertise up to five workspaces from the one property, while a premium account will cost $58 per month and allow members to host an unlimited number of spaces from the one property. The site will collect a 10 per cent booking fee on all transactions through the platform.