Nick Iovacchini, cofounder and CEO of Kettlespace.Kettlespace
- Kettlespace announced the release of new software to manage hybrid workforces.
- Workers can use KettleOS to reserve desks and to track their remote and in-person schedules.
- Companies can use the software to track and monitor office usage and their employees' experiences.
The return to the office is expected to be hybrid for most companies, with the exception of some banks and financial institutions. But what "hybrid" will look like in this brand-new world differs by company and industry.
A few companies, like Cambridge, Mass.-based marketing and software sales firm Hubspot, allowed workers to divide their time between home and the office before the pandemic. But for most, it's uncharted territory.
Kettlespace - a New York-based flexible office space provider that turns nighttime restaurants into daytime offices available to rent by remote workers, entrepreneurs, and freelancers - has developed a potential solution for companies figuring out how to manage a hybrid return to work. Today, Kettlespace unveiled software that will allow companies to manage their space and remote work protocols, while also generating data about worker habits that can be analyzed to adjust company policies over time.
Kettlespace had to shut down all of its locations at the start of the pandemic. CEO and cofounder Nick Iovacchini told Insider that the company developed the software, called KettleOS, after interviewing more than 1,000 executives about the return to work. It would be much more like an experiment, Iovacchini said, than a single, discrete event.
"First we will crawl, then walk, then fly, then run," Iovacchini told Insider. "We built this tool to help start the process of learning, taking in feedback and data over time, and then optimizing the right blend."
The software was first used by a major NYC university, which Kettlespace does not have permission to identify, in order to bring employers and students back to campus.
Workers can log into KettleOS to book desks - similar to making a restaurant reservation - and, eventually, nab spots in local coworking spaces or flexible offices. Employers, on the other hand, can use it to manage office permissions and schedules, communicate with employees about timeframes and protocols, and examine data on office usage. (Pricing will be determined based on the size of an organization and the depth of the features they require.)
"Other folks are looking at a slice of this," Iovacchini said. "But we're trying to step back and zoom out and look at the whole cycle."A pandemic pivot
Kettlespace was founded in 2016 by Iovacchini, a restaurateur, and Dan Rosenzweig, a former WeWork real estate associate. The idea was to turn unused restaurants into coworking space while also avoiding the high cost of office leases by sharing revenue with the restaurant owners. By 2020, the company was managing over 100 locations in the New York City area.
One Friday in March 2020, the company closed all its workspaces due to the coronavirus. By Monday, they had released all of their restaurant office spaces and began to downsize their team. The company has yet to reopen its Kettlespace locations but plans to begin doing so in June.
With time to explore, the founders talked to a wide range of experts and developed a hypothesis about how office work would change after the pandemic.
"The age-old power dynamics between employer and employee have fundamentally changed. And in order to attract and retain top talent, employers will have to come to the table to reach a new equilibrium balancing time in-office and time off-site," Iovacchini said in a press release accompanying the KettleOS launch.
This led to the development of the app, which companies can customize with their own branding. The app should help companies manage the multi-step process of return, Iovacchini said. First, it will coordinate which employees work where, at what times, followed by engagement and employee culture initiatives that try to even the playing field between remote and in-person employees.
The next step, creating alternative workspaces for employees closer to their homes but not in them, could drive an upsurge of demand for the restaurants-turned-daytime offices of Kettlespace's original business model. The company will allow users to book time in any location and will make decisions about where to open new locations based on the demand they're seeing in the app.
Iovacchini walked Insider through a demo of KettleOS. Read more below.