Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Your Dream Office Is Just a Click Away; TECH A New App Uses AI to Match Freelancers to the Capital's Hot Desks, Finds Katie Strick

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Your Dream Office Is Just a Click Away; TECH A New App Uses AI to Match Freelancers to the Capital's Hot Desks, Finds Katie Strick

Article excerpt

SANJ Mahal doesn't know why he didn't think of it sooner. Freelancers need space to work, and cafes need customers. Marrying the two using tech seemed "natural", when he thought of it or rather when his wife, who is a freelance interior designer, thought of it, two years ago in their South Kensington home.

His digital platform, AndCo, is a flexible-working app matching Londoners with empty spaces for hotdesking. Just enter your location and it'll pair you with a local hotspot with a table for you and your laptop.

AndCo launched in June and already has more than 800 members, and many of the capital's hottest restaurants, cafes and bars have signed up. Sophie's Steakhouse in Soho, Merchants Tavern in Shoreditch and The Cock and Bottle in Notting Hill are just a few of AndCo's top hot-desking hotspots.

It's a cheaper, more eco-friendly alternative to traditional co-working spaces such as WeWork or TechHub and might be an answer to London's loneliness crisis, a burgeoning freelance workforce and a struggling daytime restaurant industry all in one go, says Mahal.

"All you hear is bars and restaurants are facing a crisis, so why not actually leverage that capacity in the day? By 2022, 50 per cent of the working population will be freelance, and there's all this empty space."

Of course, working in a cafe is nothing new, but AndCo saves the awkwardness of ordering coffee after coffee to keep your place. Members pay PS20 a month (first month free), which gets you unlimited access to any of its 70 venues in the capital.

Membership includes free coffee and food discounts at certain venues, and there are more perks on the way, such as brand partnerships with gyms a discount on Boom Cycle classes for members launches next week.

At The Lillie Langtry pub in West Brompton, the bright upstairs is reserved for AndCo members in the day and the private dining room is available for meetings. …

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