Hotel Lobbies as Workspaces for the Modern Worker

by Dolapo Salewa Oluteye (presenting author), Peter McClennan, Ben Croxford

University College London (UCL), United Kingdom


The changing nature of work, afforded by the ubiquity of mobile technologies, is influencing modern workplace choices and transforming spaces. Hotel lobbies in London are also transforming into work environments, joining a growing number of web listings that account for workspaces in the United Kingdom (UK). Extending the use of lobbies to the public as workspaces suggest a re-conceptualisation of privately-owned built spaces, challenging existing space-use norms. Currently trending use of hotel lobbies confounds conventional wisdom of their original function as waiting areas for lodging hotel guests. Given the use of lobbies for work is a growing phenomenon in London, the underlying motivations are empirically unclear. As such, this study raises an enquiry into the publicness of these privately-owned spaces, investigating: why is the public drawn to these spaces and why adopt them for work? What attributes and characterisations of these spaces qualify them as workspaces and are they attracting specific work and worker-typologies?

In an investigative study, through a case pilot, we examine how hotel lobbies meet the needs of modern workers. It reports on initial findings that suggest the need for workspace reconceptualisation by both the built environment and existing organisations. Associated affordances of mobile and digital technologies, such as a rise in knowledge-based creative work, suggests increasing shifts in the needs and motivations of modern workers are unmet by traditional workspaces.

The study speculates that increasing digitisation of modern work and changing worker demography contribute to shifts in workplace preferences; demanding space attributes that both inspires creativity and enables capabilities to work anywhere. Knowledge gained through this study has a three-fold implication for the built environment: incremental innovations in hotel lobby space models; reconceptualisation of existing normative workplace designs and repurposing redundant, underutilised and obsolete built spaces into functional spaces that support economic activities associated with modern work.