Even though increasing numbers of workers are switching to hybrid models that do not require coming in to work every single day, there has not yet been an equivalent drop in demand for office space. As noted by the Harvard Business Review, new survey data reveals that cuts in office space demand have averaged only 1-2%, which is much less than the proportion of employees who are working partly or mostly at home. HBR points to three main causes for this trend. First, the workers that have remained in offices are uncomfortable if they are forced to work in dense spaces. It goes against the social and health norms of the last two years, which advise keeping one’s distance, especially in enclosed spaces. This need for spacing does not allow building managers to cut square footage. Second, since most employees are working from home one or two days a week (most often Monday and Friday), companies are not left with a lot of wiggle room. The difference between an employee coming in for 5 days a week and 3-4 days a week is massive from the employee’s perspective, but from an employer logistics perspective, this “free” space cannot be reallocated easily. Finally, employers are trying to lure employees back to the office by making physical spaces far more appealing than they once were. This in-person push is meant to encourage face-to-face collaboration, improve creativity, and foster a better company culture. So, despite bold predictions about less office space being used, that drop has still yet to materialise. There are companies like Appear Here that are poised to take advantage of this not-so-fading market.
Fit for a Queen
The story of Appear Here’s founding is both decidedly British and decidedly off the beaten path. The company was founded in the summer of 2012 by two people who had the idea to launch a brand just in time for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Within two weeks, the founders found a space for Rock & Rule, where they sold limited edition t-shirts and apparel depicting Queen Elizabeth II, but with a rebellious kick. Although many people came in for the quirky shirts, a surprising number of guests discussed the shop space. Many of them lamented about how hard it was to find quality locations; they had the ideas, now all they needed was a place to launch. One of the founders of Rock & Rule, Ross Bailey, took his share of the profits to launch Appear Here, a company dedicated to helping leasers and lessees find each other for short-term rentals. Now, someone can simply search their site to quickly and easily “rent shops, markets and pop up stores in cities around the world”.
One key way in which the company helps others find the right space – and not just a space – is via their curated city guides. They have detailed guides that break down each district or neighbourhood’s character, as well as the type of people who frequent the area. Foot traffic is one thing, but info about the foot traffic of a company’s target consumer is immensely better. Because of its success so far – clients include Apple, Nike, Chanel, and Netflix – it is no wonder why the company has received investment from nineteen different sources totalling more than 22 million USD. Their product truly is different; most competitor sites simply act as an unrefined search engine, and their suggestions do not have any nuance. By taking an idea and executing it very well, the company has achieved a sterling reputation and earned the potential to be a player in the real estate market for decades to come.