If you work remotely and don’t want to log more hours at your neighborhood coffee shop, a new app connects you with another local option: your neighbor’s living room. Codi, a new startup launching soon in the Bay Area, turns apartments and houses into temporary, affordable coworking spaces during the day.
“I used to work from home, and it’s very isolating,” says Christelle Rohaut, CEO and founder of Codi, who recently completed a masters in urban planning at the University of California-Berkeley. “When you go to coffee shops, they can be very distracting. And there were no working options close by, and downtown coworking spaces are very expensive.”
Rohaut started to work from friends’ homes, and found that she was more productive. It’s not a new idea–more than a decade ago, before WeWork launched, there were projects like Jelly, a loosely organized gathering of people who worked remotely and missed socializing. Rohaut saw the potential to take the idea further. “If we want to make it available for everyone, it needs to be a business,” she says. People who are at work during the day (or who work from home and have extra space) can apply to be hosts, and the company vets each applicant to make sure that they meet certain standards and provide basic amenities, including Wi-Fi, power outlets, and access to a clean restroom. As with Airbnb, hosts are insured against any damage from guests.
For hosts, the concept is a way to help offset some of the expense of Bay Area rent for spaces that are unused during the day. It’s designed to avoid one of the pitfalls of Airbnb: Each host has to prove that they’re a resident of the home, so it doesn’t incentivize owners to use the platform instead of renting to tenants. “The host can just share their unutilized living rooms during the day and then keep enjoying their home at night the same way as before, and there’s no overlap between those two,” says Rohaut. “So it’s not displacing anyone.” A host might make a few hundred dollars a month, or as much as $1,200. But the cost for people using the space (with various plans, starting at $70 for 25 hours a month) is less than a typical coworking membership. In trials of the concept run by the company, users have said they prefer the atmosphere to corporate coworking spaces–a real living room, versus rooms designed to replicate living rooms–and the fact that a smaller, more intimate space made it more likely to form connections with others working in the room. There is, of course, also the chance that they’re not the kind of person you’d like to form any kind of connection with, at which point you’re in a stranger’s living room with them–though Codi says it will do background checks on both the hosts and everyone who uses the service.