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Optimizing Your Airbnb Property for Office Space: An Investor's Guide

Jun 19, 2020 by Brad Cartier

Over the past few months, we've seen major technology companies such as Twitter (NYSE: TWTR), Facebook (NASDAQ: FB), and Shopify (NYSE: SHOP) institute different versions of work-from-home (WFH) policies for their employees. This isn't hard to believe. According to a recent Redfin (NASDAQ: RDFN) report: "1 in 4 newly remote workers expect to continue to work remotely once shutdowns end." Furthermore, the report adds, "over half of respondents would move if they never had to go into an office."

Similarly, a Zillow (NASDAQ: Z) (NASDAQ: ZG) survey recently found that 75% of those currently working from home because of the pandemic stated they would continue if given the option. For short-term rental hosts and investors, improving your Airbnb for office space is critical to capitalizing on the WFH trend that is upon us.

Here are a few considerations for Airbnb hosts as they improve their spaces for remote office work.

Focus on productivity

Office design is critical. You must create a space that is optimized for productivity and minimal distractions. It's hard to be efficient with work if the lighting is too harsh, there are loud noises outside nearby, or the home office space feels cluttered. Further, if an office design doesn't factor in best practices, you could be pushing remote employees away from your Airbnb listing. Things to consider to boost your guests' productivity include:

  • Smart speaker: So those working from home can play their favorite relaxing music or sounds or use it for phone calls.
  • Plants: Plants are nice to look at and help produce oxygen. Strategically place some plants around the home office.
  • Colors: Soft and soothing colors are better for productivity.
  • Decluttering: A cluttered workspace is horrible for productivity. Make sure you have an organized, minimalist workspace available.
  • Notepads: Never let a good idea go to waste! Leave a notepad for your guests to use in case they need to make a list or write something down.
  • Changing it up: Have a secondary workspace set up, such as outside or a workstation in the living room/dining room, to allow workers to switch up their environment if they've spent too long in one space.

The flexible workspace

An Airbnb for office space needs to have the basics: workstation, laptop stand, comfortable chair, lighting, and so on. But there are some other amenities to consider if you want to turn your Airbnb into a destination for a remote employee.

Much depends on your property. If you have a lot of rooms, then it may make sense to designate one as a private office. This can double as another bedroom with furniture such as a murphy bed to optimize the space.

If you can't spare a room, then you'll need to consider adding a flexible workspace in the living or dining room. You may need a small desk or a bar seating setup for the office space. No matter your choice, there are some home office basics you should consider:

  • Internet: Wi-Fi boosters, extenders, and ethernet hookups to ensure that there are no communication disruptions.
  • Indirect lighting: Avoid eye fatigue by having indirect lighting available that doesn't shine directly on screens or at the guest.
  • Stand-sit desk: Give your guests the option to stand or sit while working. This type of desk also gives workers the ability to fully customize the height of the desk based on their needs.
  • Smart devices: Smart speakers are a great amenity to have available for Bluetooth connectivity for music or voice calls.
  • Lots of USBs: Have USB chargers available or a charger bar that is already connected to a power source.
  • Cell phone chargers: This can be various additional cable chargers or charging pads where a guest can simply place their phone on a charger.
  • Coworking space: The ability to have multiple people work in the same shared office space can be a benefit for a couple who both have to work or a team of workers.
  • Large monitor: Most people use laptops, but sometimes it's nice to have a much bigger screen or a double screen. Having a large monitor available for connection is a nice amenity to offer those working from your Airbnb.
  • Convertible dining room: If a bigger meeting needs to happen, then it's great if you can also have some of these amenities in the dining room in case it needs to become a meeting room or conference room.
  • Beverages: Having a few free bottles of water in a nearby fridge is a great way to complement all your additional Airbnb office space amenities.
  • Printer: Having a printer that a guest can connect to wirelessly is a great additional service and may save them a trip to an office store.
  • Whiteboard: Many of us are visual learners and thinkers. Having a whiteboard on the wall gives people the ability to take notes and brainstorm ideas.
  • Storage: Places to put and organize documents are a nice touch for those who have a lot of physical paperwork. This can be a filing cabinet or desktop filing organizers.
  • More furniture: Having different seating options and additional seating space for guests is important to give work-from-home guests options.

Be sure to include language in your advertisement that emphasizes the merits of your space for those on business travel or looking to work from your Airbnb. Further, encourage guests to leave reviews that specifically mention your Airbnb as a good one for those looking to work.

One last thing to consider for optimizing your Airbnb for office space is the outdoor areas. You can create spaces outdoors that include comfortable chairs with small laptop tables or even picnic tables where someone could take a break from the inside private office to work outside.

Airbnb for office space: Alternatives

Airbnb isn't the only game in town. A number of short-term rental alternatives have popped up over the years, many of them specializing in private office spaces. Consider listing your Airbnb on the following short-term rental platforms that cater to work-from-home guests by offering office space:

The bottom line

There's no doubt that the trend to work from home is intensifying, meaning having home office spaces available is more critical than ever. As real estate investors, we have to be in a position to offer a product to tenants and guests that suits their workspace needs. This product is flexible office space.

There are hundreds of ways to create an Airbnb for office space in your unit, but following these best practices and including these additional amenities may help set your short-term rental apart from all the others.

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Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. bradcartier has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Facebook, Redfin, Shopify, Twitter, Zillow Group (A shares), and Zillow Group (C shares). The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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