You can work Annie Where: a Belgian start-up offers mobile offices – Business

Spending several hours every day in traffic jams to get to the dreary decor of your office? “No thanks,” proclaims the younger generation of workers. Companies must therefore be inventive in terms of the working environment. Belgian start-up Annie Where offers pod offices to set up in the garden, in the parking lot or wherever you want.

The team behind Annie Where would be happy to put the story of its beginnings differently – where and how this revolutionary idea germinated. But David Bintein and Jo Caudron decided to stick to the truth. David Bintein: “During confinement, we tread together. In one electric step.” Jo Caudron: “David and I are comrades in the village, and during the confinements we had the opportunity to exchange our ideas. We were both able to follow, over time, the evolution of society in terms of technology, mobility and work, and we felt that it would now be impossible to go back to the long hours spent in traffic every day, but realizing that for many the idea of ​​working from home had lost its romanticism, the presence of children, animals or other workers not always making it obvious. Companies were forced to be more flexible, and that’s how the idea for Annie Where was born. We wanted to give them the opportunity to go simple to meet the changing needs of their employees.” The capsules that Annie Where installs here and there don’t just find their place in private gardens. Companies are also realizing that the much-desired “island” layout of their offices isn’t suitable for the many Zoom meetings and phone calls that now have to be made with colleagues working from home. Pods are also found in the corporate field, where they are seen as additional extensions to classic offices, with…

The team behind Annie Where would be happy to put the story of its beginnings differently – where and how this revolutionary idea germinated. But David Bintein and Jo Caudron decided to stick to the truth. David Bintein: “During confinement, we tread together. In one electric step.” Jo Caudron: “David and I are comrades in the village, and during the confinements we had the opportunity to exchange our ideas. We were both able to follow, over time, the evolution of society in terms of technology, mobility and work, and we felt that it would now be impossible to go back to the long hours spent in traffic every day, but realizing that for many the idea of ​​working from home had lost its romanticism, the presence of children, animals or other workers not always making it obvious. Companies were forced to be more flexible, and that’s how the idea for Annie Where was born. We wanted to give them the opportunity to go simple to meet the changing needs of their employees.” The capsules that Annie Where installs here and there don’t just find their place in private gardens. Companies are also realizing that the much-desired “island” layout of their offices isn’t suitable for the many Zoom meetings and phone calls that now have to be made with colleagues working from home. Pods are also found in the field of companies, where they function as additional extensions to traditional offices, constituting spaces where it is possible to work in complete confidentiality, or organize brainstorming sessions and important meetings. Variety, change have beneficial aspects and this also applies to productivity. A different environment can work wonders. It’s amazing how quickly a pod table comes together anywhere. Floors, walls and roof, made largely of insulating materials (made from recycled PET bottles), are prefabricated as standard and equipped with all the necessary fixing techniques, so just to assemble them. “In other words, it is not possible for everyone to develop their own pod desk. We work with invariant elements. Colors, layouts and accessories can, of course, be customized. But the basic elements remain the same. Only then can we guarantee the immediate replacement of any damaged item. And only by working to this fixed pattern can we give companies the flexibility they need.” And this fixed pattern is shaped like a hexagon. A reliable form, according to David Biintein – he had previously used it for the logo of his coworking space, The Hive. Gilles Missinne: “Whoever orders a pod can assemble it himself. In addition to the white walls, windows and doors, there is a technical partition where all the connection elements are for “electricity, wifi and air conditioning. And everything can be activated via a smartphone app. Thus, it is possible to activate the air conditioning in advance to work in a perfect environment.” The trio claims that the capsules can also contribute to reducing the energy bill. “When working alone in the capsule, the heating or air conditioning can be turned off in the house, which logically leads to lower consumption. The idea is, of course, that the account belongs to the employer – by analogy with the company car.” Jo Caudron: “We are convinced that pod offices can become the company cars of the future. The new generation of workers appreciate a pleasant place to work close to home more than an expensive car parked in the garage.” Regardless of the size and composition of the pod’s work area, a price is calculated immediately during its setup. selling price: Annie Where works according to a monthly rental formula that provides for all forms of maintenance and degradation.Whoever subscribes – prices start at around 450 euros – for that month can cancel it the following month. Gilles Missinne: “It’s comparable to the Lynk & Co. I drive a car like this, which is also rented on a monthly basis and for which all services are taken care of.” Since Annie Where’s official debut last January, several companies have shown interest and have installed test pods. David Bintein: “Also, we are also seeing significant demand from real estate producers. And, in fact, it can represent great added value to install these capsules in a residential area so that residents can use them for work. This creates a beneficial buzz.” However, this fast-developing company is facing a number of obstacles. Including the scarcity of materials. The material is not only recycled, it is also recyclable again.” The signature formula is also a challenge: traditional companies are used to working according to a system based more on buying and selling than on the lease principle. Jo Caudron: “The In this regard, we see that small businesses can adapt much more quickly and fully embrace the idea of ​​a signature.” The last hurdle is the rigidity of Belgian legislation. Which requires an application for a license for all residential functions. And – oh surprise! – work remains one. “We are pushing for these provisions to be relaxed and we are certainly not the only ones. The law should help make flexible work possible.” Until that’s the case, you have to go through the city hall. “And that varies a lot from one municipality to another. Should one or another problem arise after a while, our flexibility allows us to intervene quickly to remove the capsule.” Anyone who wants to work in a pod office can already do so within Belgian borders. But the trio of shareholders have very ambitious ambitions. Jo Caudron: “We definitely want to take this concept internationally. In terms of shape, it’s constantly improving. “Walls, for example, lend themselves perfectly to applying stickers, which makes it easier for companies to customize their pods. And we are looking into the possibility of integrating hanging plants or a green roof. This is all still in the works, but this anchoring in nature is important, in our opinion. It is also planned to be able to offer pods in colors other than white next year.” The trio has no less faith in Apple’s model. Jo Caudron: “Apple didn’t offer the iPhone in every possible color.” Perhaps we could therefore consider using colored capes to dress the pods? David Bintein: “But we’ve already considered that.”

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