We’re always looking for examples of how coworking and flexible office space providers can cooperate, and we were blown away when we heard about the amazing ‘Work With Pants Wednesdays’ (WWPW) collaboration between 60 operators across 15 markets in Ontario, Canada.Ontario has endured one of the world’s longest lockdowns since the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic – it was only in June that its most recent province-wide ‘Stay at Home Order’ was finally lifted. It’s been a devastating time for small businesses in the region, and especially difficult for workspace operators to gain traction under these circumstances.Now that restrictions have eased, spaces are seeing a surge in demand from those desperate to leave their homes, connect with other humans, and build relationships.
We in the industry have always known that everyone from companies such as Google and Microsoft to freelancers and solopreneurs can benefit from shared workspaces. Everyone is well served with an on-demand offering that does not burden them with the trappings of a traditional lease. The challenge is the majority of people have never seen the inside of a coworking space.
The light-hearted campaign, named after the pandemic-induced phenomena of those on Zoom calls only donning business attire from the waist up, encourages workers to put on those pants that have been collecting dust at the back of their closet and explore a work experience like no other.
The aim of the initiative is to bring awareness to Ontario’s workspace offerings and the industry in general, while reinvigorating the business districts and surrounding businesses that have also suffered enormously during the last 18 months.
Using the Toronto-owned and developed Flexday app, WWPW offers every Ontarian one free day at one of the 60 participating coworking and flexible office spaces on every Wednesday between July 28th and October 27th. When an individual opens the Flexday app, they will see the workspaces closest to them. Participating operators are designated with an icon shaped like a little pair of pants. The use of the app provides a consistent, turnkey solution for users and ensures all operators are presented. This makes the promo fair and transparent for both big and small operators.
The organizers of the promotion were worried that workers may still have concerns about returning to shared workspaces. So beyond encouraging people to leave their home office in favor of a more professional, productive, and collaborative environment, users will also be rewarded with a perk worth up to $20.
After the first free visit, WWPW users will pay $20 for subsequent day passes but will still receive the perk valued up to the same price they are paying for their day of work.
Kane Wilmott, CEO of iQ Office Suites said, “We were inspired by a promotion that we saw in New York City between a single operator and the city of New York, and thought this would be a great initiative to welcome Ontarians back to the office. We’re a small, but highly collaborative community and I was honored to spearhead this promotion with Adrian Joaquin of Workhaus and bring on board so many workspaces across Ontario. I am proud to be part of this group of entrepreneurs and forward thinkers.”
For the 60 workspaces involved in the WWPW campaign, the hope is that many of these day pass users are converted into long-term members once they discover what they’ve been missing. We know from experience that once people come through the doors, the probability of securing them as a full-time member goes up exponentially.
The Toronto coalition members alone represent 3.1 million square feet of Toronto’s office space stock (2.3 million square feet in the downtown core). These spaces are launchpads for many of Canada’s startups, representing a key sector for economic growth. In addition, by encouraging more people to leave their home offices and return to Ontario’s commercial areas, other businesses such as restaurants, cafés and retailers also stand to benefit from their spending dollars.
Christine Andrews – founder of Acme Works, partner at Deco Group and a member of the WWPW planning team, pointed out that “with so many workspaces across Ontario joining the campaign, we are able to provide an incredibly diverse offering that caters to workers and teams of every kind – from remote entrepreneurs suffering from loneliness to corporate teams that need to convene in a professional space. I can’t wait to see the results!”
This isn’t the first time that coworking and flexible office space providers in Ontario have joined forces. Coworking Toronto and Coworking Ontario are existing organizations that have been around for over a decade and are the foundation of the close ties that exist between operators in the province. The two collectives have been responsible for innovative programs in the past, such as COHIP, the world’s first healthcare insurance plan for coworking space members. It’s no surprise that Ontario is leading the way again with the WWPW campaign.
For more information, head over to workwithpantswednesdays.com and download the Flexday app to check out this awesome promotion. You can also connect directly with Christine, Kane or Adrian to learn more about pulling the promo together.