A Chat With James Coughlan, Founder and CEO at Reef.Global





Who are Reef.Global and what do you do?


Reef.Global is a third workspace app which aims to bridge gaps between office working and home working. It will connect businesses with hospitality venues across the world via an app. Bars, cafes, restaurants and hotels can specify what space they have available (and when) and businesses can subscribe to the app for their workforce, so they can find appropriate and convenient space to work. It’s a win-win as it helps bring customers into hospitality venues and helps businesses ensure their teams can always find somewhere suitable to log on or meet with clients or colleagues, as well as help with their employees’ wellbeing by creating a separate space to keep personal and work lives separate.

Basically, employers can gain easy access to low cost third workspace provision, creating an agile team. We’ll also be running networking events at Reef venues for companies to meet up and there’ll be perks and discounts for members too and an encrypted internal company chat facility.


What inspired you to start the company?


Although this is a solution which is perfectly suited to a post-Covid workforce, given the huge surge in hybrid and remote working, it is actually something we’ve been working on for a couple of years. Lockdown just gave us the time to actually get the app up and running, and we plan to launch it in September. 

Most progressive businesses now realise that teams don’t need to be permanently office based to be productive – in fact they may be more productive for some tasks away from a traditional office set up. So, it makes sense for businesses to downsize their office space, saving huge amounts of money, and bringing people in only to work on those tasks which benefit from that in-office collaboration. 


What is the key problem Reef.Global solves and for whom?


It’s now widely accepted that most businesses will be working in a different way to how they did pre-pandemic. Hybrid working has become a buzz word of the Pandemic with 23.9million people having worked remotely during lockdown. Figures from the British Chambers of Commerce show that over two thirds (66 per cent) of businesses are now offering remote working to employees, with both hybrid and remote working set to remain permanent post-Covid. That means there’s almost 18.5 million employees now needing alternative places to work several days of the week – along with 4.76 million self-employed workers.

But for many people ‘working from home’ is really difficult. Research shows that 48% of people don’t have a suitable place to work at home – so finding those good quality third workspaces is really important. The Reef.Global app will make it easy to find somewhere, whether you’re travelling or working in your home town. Workforces can take a monthly subscription on behalf of their staff, and then there’s no cost to hiring the space as you go along. It’s very straightforward. 



Tell us more about the ‘Third Workspace?’


A third workspace is anywhere other than home or the office where you can work. As we mention above, a lot of people don’t have suitable spaces to work at home – perhaps they’re working from their sofa or their bed, particularly in shared flats. Many people find they work better with some background ambience – it can certainly help get the creative juices flowing! Or they might need somewhere to meet with colleagues or clients away from the office. The venues we’re partnering with have WiFi and power and suitable space to be used, either as a solo worker or for meetings. The venues are in charge of their own listings, so they can specify times it will be available and even have special offers and discounts for people wanting to work there. It’s a great way for them to generate extra income at quieter times. We also wonder why people think they have to work from home when they can’t go into the office. Why not at a beach club with good WiFi and a plug socket?


The whole concept of workplaces was turned upside down over the course of 2020. What does a ‘modern’ workplace actually look like?


I think for most people how they work going forward will see them changing their workspace throughout the course of a week – and that will be a positive thing for productivity and creativity. Some jobs will naturally be more suited to being based in an office (particularly some of a more sensitive or collaborative nature). Some may be best done in a quiet, uninterrupted space such as at home or a hotel room. Others may benefit from getting out and being in a more buzzy environment such as a café or hotel lobby. We’ve all experienced being forced to work from the office, and we’ve all experienced being forced to work from home. I think we’ll all now get much better at choosing the right working environment for us at that given moment in time. And that will be a huge benefit to us as individuals – but it will also benefit employers. 


What about digital nomads?


Digital nomads have always been good at working from a variety of locations, and the Reef.Global app will make that so much easier for them. If they’re travelling around the world they’ll be able to find and book a venue wherever they may be. I think many remote workers have probably fallen into the trap of just working from home, but that can be damaging for your wellbeing if it means you’re not getting that interaction with people. It can be very lonely.


What kind of companies does Reef.Global cater for?


Any company of any size and in any industry which wants to allow their employees the freedom to not always work from the office. Businesses have a duty of care to their workforce to ensure they have appropriate working spaces and to look after their mental health and wellbeing, and for many people working from home is not possible. 

It’s a very simple system and there’s just a per person subscription cost for users, with no fee for booking spaces or limits on how many the user can book. We’re currently offering an early bird discount for companies who sign up now. 

Reef is unlike any of the other solutions out there in that it is the only remote working solution focusing on a B2B monthly subscription revenue stream coupled with unrivalled user benefits for employers and their staff.


How can we find you?

Log on to the website www.reef.global