Combining the two in perfect harmony is The Work Room, which was launched to cater for a new breed of entrepreneur and remote worker looking for places they can not only work productively, but also conduct meetings with clients and colleagues, and arrange after-work dinner and drinks, all in a stylish but professional setting.
The Work Space is a collection of co-working venues located within restaurants owned by the renowned D&D restaurant group, which operates more than 40 restaurants and an award-winning hotel, with an impressive number of accolades for exceptional food, design, service and sustainability to their name.
We sat down with entrepreneurs Dominika Sadowska and Des Gunewardena, who co-founded The Work Room, to find out more about the unique concept.
When did the idea of creating workspaces in D&D restaurants emerge and what inspired it?
Des Gunewardena: "London’s working culture has changed massively in the last 10 years. I am personally a pretty good example I think of that. I use to have an office, then a desk, and now I just have a phone, an iPad and use of our restaurants for all my meetings. It completely works and is actually way better. Delicious coffee, great people keen to serve you and you don’t have to move far for an excellent lunch!
"We’ve been approached by landlords over the last couple of years suggesting that we develop high quality co-working spaces with cafes/restaurants as a natural extension to D&D’s business. Then, when Dominika approached us about Work Room, we thought we have spaces in many of our restaurants and bars which are only busy for a couple of hours for lunch during the average workday, so why not launch the Work Room concept in our own venues?"
How did you decide which D&D restaurants would be equipped with a co-working space?
Dominika Sadowska: "From the beginning we were looking for centrally located, beautiful interior and large enough spaces, that could accommodate co-workers but not feel like a crowded coffee shop. It’s important that our members have the high-quality service and an amazing experience while working from our spaces. When selecting restaurants, we looked at the spaces which are particularly attractive to co-workers in terms of layout, furnishing, access to meeting rooms and geographical spread across London.
"The aim is to cover all the key areas in the city to provide our members with a suitable space wherever they work or live. They can then decide if they want to have a ‘Work-from-home” day and stay at a space located nearby their home, an ‘escape’ from their usual office, when they want to focus by themselves, host sensitive meeting and swap their usual office for a different environment, or accommodate their work when they have meetings in different parts of town."
How does membership work?
DS: "I strongly believe that in today’s world, flexibility and convenience are key. And flexibility doesn’t mean being tied to a ontracts. This is why, at The Work Room, we aim to give the highest flexibility to our members by offering Day-Passes. At the moment members are also able to make some savings by purchasing Multi-passes, which don't have an expiration date and can be used across all of our spaces.
"Regardless of what membership option you choose, you become a part of our community with exclusive perks and always have an access to high-speed WiFi, portable charging points, complimentary coffee or tea. We also let you bring some guests if you wish, because of course it’s always more fun to work together! Remote doesn’t mean lonely, right?"
Do members or people who use the workspace get any perks or discounts in the restaurants?
DS: "Members at The Work Room become a part of our community as soon as they sign up and make their first booking. This gives them access to special offers at the restaurants, complimentary treats and invitations to events, launches, talks and more. The more bookings you make, the better the rewards."
How do you ensure a quiet working environment with bustling restaurant and bar activity in the same physical space?
DS: "Most of the restaurants are getting busy from around 4-5pm. By this time, our members are also ready to switch off and join a happy hour, or relax and meet with friends. We work with the restaurants to extend their usual opening hours, with some letting members in as early as 8.30am. This gives enough time for the remote workers to get their work done and host the meetings.
"Also, when working from the restaurant, you're able to save a lot of time, which otherwise you'd have to spend on a commute to the office, between the meetings, or going out for lunch. Now you can easily do everything in one space that suits you best in terms of atmosphere and location."
Do you attract a particular kind of client, or is your appeal quite broad?
DS: "Originally, we thought that our main customer would be freelancers, entrepreneurs or people from a start-up background. But since our launch we’ve learned that our concept appeals also to other groups, such as small and medium enterprises, agencies as well as senior executives in large organisations from various industries. So overall our client base is rather broad, but mostly rather sophisticated, which is why we put a lot of effort in making sure they have the most exquisite experience, best service and plenty of exclusive benefits."
Can you tell us about the D&D app that people can use to book themselves into your workspaces?
DS: "The Work Room App is currently available on the Apple Store and from next week also in Google Play. Spaces and their availability are listed on the Work room App, and users can book the drop-in workspace in 3 easy steps, by selecting time and preferred location, confirming the booking and making a payment. Or even faster, when you purchase Multi-pass and can use your available credit to pay for the booking.
"Each space has a description, available features, and location map. Apart from the practicality of easy workspace booking, members can also see the upcoming events and special offers for the menus available at the restaurants.
"When planning a meeting or a team catch up, members can invite their guests through the App via the Messenger, Email, WhatsApp, Slack and more, with an automated text including the location, name of the space, and instructions upon arrival, for an even quicker communication."
Are there plans to expand the workspace offering to other restaurants in the group?
DS: "Yes, that’s for sure. We're looking to add some more locations this Autumn and then potentially expand further beyond the D&D London venues."