Growing during the pandemic- hospitality concept, Ethos, evolves into the future of work
By Janko Milunovic, CEO of Ethos
Let's start at the beginning. Before COVID-19, we were living in an era where cities such as London, San Francisco, and New York were some of the priciest hotel markets in the world, averaging above $300/ night and selling at close to 90% occupancy rate throughout the entire year.
- Places of power, such as New York, San Francisco, or London (where close to 80% of all VC funds are based)
- Networks of relevant people, which provide resources, connections, talent, funding, knowledge, and mentorship (at the end of the day, the community is everything)!
As an entrepreneur myself. I observed this firsthand and saw the biggest recurring barrier was affordable lodging and access to these relevant business ecosystems in each city. It's not just where you stay, it's who is staying under the same roof and how you connect with them.
What set us apart was finding a way to convert vacant commercial buildings into hotels (read - empty office floors, which even before the crisis were in abundance with around 15% of Manhattan office buildings being vacant throughout the year!). Our solution was using prefab technology to quickly and inexpensively convert these empty offices into hotels by focusing on usability-centric design. Our aim- to create a new form of hotel and public club that provides affordable accommodation and access to a thriving community of professionals who want to positively impact the world.
With an already active Ethos community, events, and gatherings we were gearing up for the launch of our first space until COVID-19 put an immediate pause on our plans. In just a few weeks what we thought of as 'reality' started to fade away and the world as most city-dwellers knew it rapidly transformed.
As a start-up, we were lucky enough not to get severely affected by the crisis and so we decided to find ways to help our community and people who were isolated and feeling disconnected from the world and the core of our existence-nature. We were all trapped in concrete jungles and the reasons we came to these cities in the first place (community, connection etc.) were no longer there.
Even before the pandemic got severe, I decided to move outside NYC to a mountain lodge in North Carolina and started a small remote-living community with a group of my friends. Our thinking was - if we are given the privilege of income or funding, and are able to work remotely, then it's entirely our choice of the environment in which we want to be in — we are free to choose. And that is when the idea for Ethos Remote Habitat came to life, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.
We decided to reach out to our community and friends to share this with them and enable them to 'choose' to (temporarily) live out of unique places in nature, in an inspiring community of today's brightest creators. During this time of social distancing and isolation, it became abundantly clear how vital family-living is to our personal, professional, and emotional well-being.
Once we realized the appetite for this kind of remote work/living, based upon the same values we founded Ethos, we created Ethos Remote Habitat and began handpicking beautiful properties to create a home away from home experience for both individuals and companies.
For the first experience, offered to individuals, we spent a month in Maine on a 100-acre property with access to a beautiful lake. This initial pilot achieved and exceeded all our expectations and helped influence our business goals.
Our mission at Ethos Remote Habitat is to bring people to inspiring properties in nature and live in a community focused on health and revitalization of mind + body + spirit. We start by taking care of all the basics of a live/work experience for you where each individual has a private living space (room + bathroom), reliable wifi, high vibration nourishing meals from renowned chefs, and programming that is crafted to help individuals reset, recharge and grow consciously.
Beyond the basics, we strive to offer a unique experience in each location and utilize local providers for the services, food, lodging, and programming so that each individual is connected to their surroundings. The programming includes daily wellness activities such as yoga and meditation, workshops focusing on finding balance/ conscious living and curated gatherings, and talks where individuals think, discuss, and create with those around them.
Maine was the first of many locations to come. We hosted another successful individual experience in August/September in Tulum and have since onboarded stunning properties throughout the US. Additionally, we have expanded our offering beyond individuals to include companies with a distributed workforce. As you can imagine, although there are many benefits to remote work, there are also some of the same detriments that many people are already feeling but magnified. These employees are experiencing a loss of company culture, isolation + mental health from lack of work/life balance, and an absence of benefits that help with retention (after-work beers, group dinners etc.).
Ethos Remote Habitat is bringing the future of work to the companies by giving them the unique opportunity to set up their own campuses for their employees to live/work and rejuvenate in nature.
At the same time, Ethos Remote Habitat also serves as a solution for lodging and hotel concepts whose businesses have been affected as a result of COVID-19. Our team works alongside these boutique properties as partners to create these remote live/work destinations and have found that many of the properties prefer this arrangement. That way, guests stay for a minimum of two weeks allowing for the recommended isolation period which lowers the foot traffic typically associated with hotel travel and guarantees their space is booked for a month.
Amongst all the fear and confusion, at Ethos, our mission did not change — our way of service to the community of creators is to inspire and bring people together. To help you, and everyone who shares the same mission to bring a positive change to this beautiful planet. Change that is rooted in the wisdom of the soul and heart, rather than the entrapments of yesterday's broken society.
To that end, we launched Ethos Remote Habitat to offer experiences that people carry with them long after they return home. When the crisis subsides, we have the unique opportunity to reimagine, rebuild, and create a new 'reality'.