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Portland-area startup Radious found a better place to work from home: someone else’s house

Portland start-up entrepreneur Amina Moreau wants you to push back on your plans to return to the office indefinitely.

And she has good reasons.

After all, for nearly two years, virtually every American employed who has been able to bring work home to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

What was meant to be a brief arrangement for cabin workers slowly evolved into a more permanent way of working. Even though business owners set dates when they wanted employees to return to their desks – without pandemic sweatpants – the coronavirus has always kept its own schedule.

This harsh reality has created the need for a new kind of office, one that is temporary, one that is limited to small groups as the virus continues to increase, and one that does not require 45 minutes of traffic to access it. . In other words, if a cohort of employees lived in, say, Lent, could these people find an alternative to the traditional corporate space where they could collaborate without having to drive across town?

Enter Radious (radious.pro), a company that aims to easily connect people with meeting spaces and workstations with the click of a mouse. Inspired by overnight rental sites like Airbnb – in fact, most current hosts have experience with this particular accommodation market – the year-old company allows owners to list everything in the same way, from their grandmother’s apartment to an entire five-bedroom home for individuals. to book as quiet and solo work retreats or as a business to book for small team meetings.

“A lot of employees, even though they love to work from home, after two years of doing it, they start to realize that this is not the end, that’s all,” says Moreau. “Sometimes you have to see another person. And sometimes you have to change the scenery.

Being confined to her home during the first days of the pandemic is part of what inspired Moreau – a former marketing and advertising consultant and filmmaker – to come up with the idea for Radious. But she was primarily driven by months of missing income normally generated through Airbnb from her downstairs studio.

“I felt the pinch,” explains Moreau. “We didn’t feel safe praising him [overnight]. We were losing income, so we thought, ‘How do we get creative and host in a different way that feels more secure? “

Moreau first tested his concept with his own studio by inviting close friends, family and neighbors to type on their keyboards for a few hours at a time. She also worked around the room, evaluating everything from the adequacy of the Wi-Fi speed to the comfort of the tables.

Shortly after these experiences turned out to be promising, Moreau began recruiting hosts through a nonprofit trade association for the short-term rental community and Facebook groups. His pitch included incentives: Office workers leave less mess to clean up once they leave, virtually no laundry, and less wear and tear on property.

“They are professionals who work at your place compared to a simple random traveler who wants to crash into your place,” she explains. “We believe that the tenants of our platform are more conscientious and more responsible than in a more tourist context. “

So far, these assurances have led dozens of hosts to sign up, with the potential to join even more now that Radious has rolled out a new feature that syncs their booking calendar with other rental sites, thus avoiding double bookings.

For relatively new host Maria Grzanka, who listed the entire first floor of her eclectically decorated house on Radious, joining the program was a financial decision. Once her roommate moved in, she didn’t feel comfortable allowing a stranger to settle in during the pandemic.

“The people I rented the room to were mostly friends of mine,” says Grzanka. “So in this case it seemed more appealing to have someone I don’t know inside and out, and maybe not here forever.”

On the other side of the equation, adds Moreau, tenants may also feel safer meeting a handful of vaccinated team members in private accommodation during the outbreak, when cafes and coworking spaces overcrowded may appear to be riskier propositions.

But aside from the more serious factors to consider, rentals from Radious just seem more fun.

For example, you can book a board meeting inside an emptied train car, still parked on the tracks, which is now equipped with a conference table, four sit-stand desks, ‘a kitchenette, toilet and air conditioning. There are also cute little houses, several covered outdoor yards, and even a refurbished 1970s Airstream trailer, ready for office workers stuck at home looking to venture outside their own four walls.

“It’s also about experiences, not just productivity,” says Moreau. “Imagine being in an inspiring and different space that makes you want to take selfies there and send it to your friends to make them jealous that you are in this really cool space. That’s kind of the point, because the head office, most of the time, is a bit boring.