A new smartphone application, known as “Breather,” allows users to rent workspace in busy urban centres on an hourly basis, a concept only starting to gain momentum in Canada. Founders Julien Smith and Caterina Rizzi hope to capitalize on the growing trend of self-employed or work-from-home employees.
Using the Breather app, individuals can find available workspaces, usually located in downtown buildings, and rent them for anywhere from an hour up to a full day. Rates range from $15 to $40 per hour depending on the location, workspace and time of day. Upon payment, users are sent a temporary code to unlock the office door. Each available workspace comes furnished and equipped with Wi-Fi.
Landlords interested in joining the Breather bandwagon retain full ownership of their units and profits are split between Breather and the property owner. Smith says the concept is gaining popularity among landlords with vacant units and renting by the hour can often yield higher returns than long-term occupancies. The idea is also proving useful to businesses with smaller budgets.
“I can’t have an office that beautiful. I can’t afford all the stunning furniture in there,” says Sarah Lazar, owner of graphic design firm Cow Goes Moo. “It’s nice to go there for a few hours and pretend like it’s mine.”
Smith and Rizzi used the “collaborative consumption” model for their app found in companies like Airbnb, an online short-stay rental community, and Uber, taxi and rideshare service.
Breather is currently available in Montreal and Ottawa and will soon be launching in Toronto.