- The future belongs to the hybrid work model, according to the founders of Multispace whose business model reflects this belief
- The startup offers employers to gift cards to many locations for remote working to their employees
- Locations include not only offices and co-working spaces in a corporate style, but also bars, villas and caravans
Whilst some people may believe in the complete return to the office work philosophy, the owners of the online platform Multispace believe that the hybrid model of work is here to stay. The vision they offer is two to three days' work from the office and the remaining ones utilized somewhere else - remotely. Here "remote work" does not have to be the dull "work from home" that everyone envisions or working from just one other location, but the freedom to choose where to work from. Spassen Tsenov and Ramona Radujkova have based their business model on this philosophy, for which their company Multispace has received 400 thousand euro in financing from "Vitosha Ventures". The two owners are backing up their faith in the hybrid work model with international research on the subject. This established that, whereas, in the previous year 55% of surveyed employees worldwide saw hybrid working as the future of office jobs, this year more than 75% see this as the future.
Multispace, whose official start was on the 1st of June, is mainly targeted towards corporate clients. The company gives employers the opportunity to purchase cards on a subscription basis for their employees, who can then use these to choose where and how to work remotely by choosing from the number of locations on the platform.
Two problems for employers
"We are trying to provide a solution to two problems, which employers are currently facing - how to diversify their employees' work life and how to 'distribute' offices", explain the creators of Multispace.
"During the pandemic employees got scattered all around the country, they work alone, but they need to be amongst people, whilst also being close to home or having proximity to that which they love doing," clarifies Radujkova, a recruitment specialist. The service provided by Multispace helps companies in this regard and it can be viewed as a social benefit, which employers can offer their employees. She continues: "We are again trying to urge people to go back to the office, but as an intermediate period, in which they have the freedom to choose where to work from, in those six or ten days of the month, where the employer has assigned distance work."
Along with this Multispace allows companies to optimize their office expenditures. For instance, instead of renting an office in Burgas for 5 employees, who are temporarily working in the city and not using it for any other time, they can provide Multispace cards and not have the whole office building empty for the rest of the time. This way employees are not confined to a single place and space, but have the freedom to work wherever and however they want. The company has freedom to also make its own arrangements with the co-working spaces that are a part of Multispace's list of locations, but the added benefit of the service they provide is in saving this time and effort and the flexibility to choose from many diverse locations and not just be anchored to one.
The team behind "Multispace Bulgaria" explains that their prices are strictly tailored to each company and are dependent on their policies and needs. In some companies the opportunity to work remotely will fall on six days, whilst in others it will be 10 or more. Employers know in advance how much it will cost them per month per employee and Multispace's task is to cater everything in such a way that in the end they can turn a profit.
For the employees - freedom of choice and location
The big added bonus for any employee is that they can organize their working life in such a way that it is never stagnant. They receive a URL link from their employer, through which they can use the app for free. This way if they do not wish to work from a certain place, but also do not have an overwhelming desire to go back to the office, they can then have a look on the app and find a location that matches their desired "office feeling" and book it online, if it is available. The booking system in place is similar to that used by AirBnB. Every location has a detailed description, you can filter through a myriad of differing criteria and the booking can be made for a group or an individual - all a click away.
There are some added features to the platform such as information on events. This way, if for example there is a concert in Blagoevgrad, a team can rent some spaces there and work from the city and in the evening go to the live event.
The hosts - from offices to villas
The list of office spaces on the platform, the so-called "hosts", are lining up to be of a varied nature. Multispace Bulgaria is still in the process of developing its network of locations and they are looking to establish a presence in all major cities and resorts in the country. For the time being the majority of locations on offer are of a corporate nature; this, they explain, is because most of them are based in recently emptied offices and because these types of locations have a business history and expertise in being appropriately managed. Their hosts offer experience and fast reactions to patrons' needs.
Entry into partnership with the platform is open to any and all locations, as long as they offer a fast and stable internet connection - these can be bars and pubs, conference rooms in hotels, villas, caravans by the sea or any other place with reasonable amenities.
What the Multispace team has found is that during the pandemic many locations closed down, but many new ones popped up as well. Many locations have also had to radically rethink their business model - for example, locations that were initially coffee houses have transformed into co-working spaces. Tsenov comments "In this way we have a lot of locations "waking up" and getting back into business thanks to us, whereas others are realizing their potential for remote work". This "waking up" can be interpreted as these locations understanding that they can maximize their profits by functioning as a co-working space during the day and then in the evening returning to their intended function - as a bar, dance club, restaurant, cafe or whatever.
Participation of the "hosts" in the platform is free of charge, but it is not automatically approved upon application. A "verification" of the standards and location is carried out by the Multispace Bulgaria team who visit the premises. There is constant ongoing monitoring thereafter with the emphasis on customer satisfaction and reviews.
Tsenov comments on the current requirements and regulations towards work spaces as "somehow we are on the edge, but that's normal for any company with a modern business model, due to legislation lagging behind. When it comes to remote working, in the context of regulations, this is still something that even the biggest corporations are finding difficult to manage".
Third joint project
Multispace Bulgaria is the third joint project of Radujkova and Tsenov. The two have a recruitment consulting company for the IT industry - "Devsense". It is because of this that they are constantly aware of the changing desires of both employers and employees. The two are also partners in the outsourcing company "Cosense", which allows foreign companies to employ software engineers on short or long-term projects.
Their efforts on Multispace began in the middle of last year. Actual development of the project began this year in large thanks to financing from "Vitoshа Ventures". Through "Devsense" the two partners have connections to large IT companies, who have also expressed an interest in using their services. The company officially started operations at the beginning of June and it is in its trial period - they are negotiating with company clients and are working on diversifying their pick of locations.
Whereas the team initially just comprised Tsenov and Radujkova, it now includes six or seven programers. Their way of working is 50% in the office and 50% remotely.
Employers have access to a client portal, which allows them to add employees, confirm payments, change tariff plans, create management packages and to have an overview of who is working where and when they have checked in. For the "hosts" the application offers an overview of expected reservations in the app calendar and also a way to generate statistics.
According to Radujkova, one of the main challenges facing the development of the product is how to incentivize employees to leave their homes. Tsenov adds to this the building from the ground up of a good and attractive network of locations and bringing them back to life. The two have a vision of the future where they can expand beyond Bulgaria and add new services to their list.
In relation to Multispace sounding a lot like Multisport - the two confirm that the business models have a lot in common. Not least of all, both figure on the list of social benefits that can be offered to employees.