Jonathan Humphries of HoCoSo writes about stress and how new hospitality models can play their part in addressing the problems it causes.

Given the opportunity by Serviced Apartment News to write the occasional column, I thought I would address one of the big challenges we, as human beings, are facing today and which I have witnessed in my own family, with friends, colleagues and, occasionally, if I’m being totally honest, with myself. This topic is indiscriminate, impacting members of society from all backgrounds, races, gender and age, in all areas of the world. I would like to start this dialogue and at the same time, generate momentum, where we create hospitality concepts which benefit us all in the 21st Century.

Stress is a big killer, it debilitates, causes lower productivity, fractures relationships and impacts society.

According to the Global Organisation for Stress:
• 75 per cent of adults reported experiencing moderate to high levels of stress in the past month and nearly half reported that their stress has increased in the past year – American Psychological Association.
• 80 per cent of workers feel stress on the job and nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress. And 42 per cent say their co-workers need such help – American Institute of Stress.
• Stress levels in the workplace are rising with 6 in 10 workers in major global economies experiencing increased workplace stress. With China (86 per cent) having the highest rise in workplace stress – The Regus Group.
• Alarmingly 91 per cent of adult Australians feel stress in at least one important area of their lives. Almost 50 per cent feel very stressed about one part of their life – Lifeline Australia.
• Australian employees are absent for an average of 3.2 working days each year because of stress-related issues. This workplace stress costs the Australian economy approximately $14.2 billion – Medibank.
• Approximately 13.7 million working days are lost each year in the UK as a result of work-related illness at a cost of £28.3 billion per year – National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.
• Depression is among the leading causes of disability worldwide – World Health Organization.
• Fewer than 25 per cent of people suffering of depression worldwide have access to effective treatments – World Health Organization.

Stress is also still one of the topics that is still rarely talked about openly, especially amongst work colleagues and even friends and families.

Individuals who suffer from stress find it difficult to reach out, notice the warning signs, and are sometimes unable to deal with the consequences. It is indiscriminate, impacting members of society from all backgrounds, races, gender and age, in all areas of the world.

So, what is the role of hospitality, our industry, in this regard?

In the age where we have moved from products and services to experiences, the hospitality concepts of the future will need to consider how they are transforming individuals. It is unacceptable that guests leave hospitality concepts feeling worse than when they arrived – they need to feel better! The basics are obvious: a great night sleep, exercise (in any shape and form) and healthy food.

But what about the other aspects which address the higher areas of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? Such as a sense of community, especially for guests who are staying longer periods, away for days, weeks, or even months at a time. The top 10% of corporate travellers are away from home on average 90 nights a year, that’s the equivalent of 4.5 months, based on workdays only (Corporate Traveller, 2017).

A sense of renewal comes through wellness, which is more than just a sauna or a yoga session, although that is better than nothing. It can also be through meditation, mindfulness, and other techniques, which in the end create a greater sense of calm, perspective and feeling connected. Why is it that concepts which focus on engaging public spaces are so successful? – Because they give guests the opportunity to meet and socialise. As the pressure on real estate becomes greater, it is unacceptable that guests are sleeping in soulless apartments, or hotel rooms, with functional design and no public engagement areas. The successful growth of some new concepts understand this need for connectivity, however transformation is still in its infancy. Co-living is the next big wave of developments to enter our cities worldwide – it’s definitely not a fad, as long as the concepts focus on creating very strong communities. Why is this relevant? Because more than ever, communities are fractured, people need to move away from their families and friends in order to work and live. Co-working and remote working is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Individuals need the opportunity to manage many aspects and responsibilities of their lives simultaneously, hence flexibility is critical.

Recent talks and panel discussions with professionals from the sector of hospitality have highlighted the need to follow megatrends and find solutions that respond adequately to the changing needs of the modern traveler and citizen. Take global mobility, for example: “Essentially, close to 45 per cent of the workforce is going to be globally mobile within the next few years. In the city I live in (Zurich) nearly half of the city population is living by themselves. Now if you think about the human need for community, for interaction, for a sense of connection, then the creation of co-living concepts makes sense – you still have your own private space and you can also have a communal space, where you can meet,  socialise, and feel like you belong, from almost day one…”

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So flexibility, community and the ability to be positively stimulated both mentally and physically, can have a profound impact on the individual. As can quiet areas for contemplation, thought and for study. When we create hospitality concepts for the future and of the 21st century, it is important that we ask ourselves what are we doing to help transform the individual during our stay with us and how are we making their lives better? Ultimately, hopefully, consequently, reducing stress and creating a better state of mental wellbeing for both our guests and our hospitality associates.

HoCoSo is a sponsor of next week’s Serviced Apartment Summit MEA. Click here for more information and to buy tickets.

At SASMEA, Jonathan will be hosting a development workshop combining investors, operators and hotel executives interests, during which all the attendees will gather in different groups and come up with an innovative extended stay concept.

While the workshop is led by Jonathan himself, each group will be led by one of the attendees. That group leader will have the chance to present his team’s findings to the entire audience. The groups will be separated into the following categories:

  • Investor considerations
  • Smart room design
  • Serviced and operations
  • Public spaces and networks in the neighbourhood
  • Distribution and the booking experience


Want to find out more about Co-working and Co-living?

> Read Jonathan Humphries’ take on the proliferation of “co-words” in the hospitality industry, and his view on how these two concepts have set their marks in the sector. 



About HoCoSo  

HoCoSo are advisors with a difference. We create tailor-made and innovative solutions for clients’ hospitality-led projects by bringing together the optimum team of sector specialists. Jonathan Humphries, Chairman and Owner of HoCoSo, and his direct team specialize in the extended-stay, co-living, and hotel-alternatives hospitality market; luxury, lifestyle and boutique hotels; and resort developments in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Our strengths lie in the following core services: 

  • Product & Concept Creation, for portfolio & individual asset developments 
  • Strategic Development Projects with a focus on new-market / new-concept business expansion planning, operator selection, market and financial feasibility studies 
  • Transformative Asset Management for brand re-positioning, asset re-evaluation and concept re-structuring. 
  • Hospitality Education for companies and academic institutions, with a focus on bespoke course development, training and teaching 
  • Workshops, Keynotes and Conference Moderating for boards, leading international conferences and incubators