For over 100 years, the western world was organized around an economic and living model with industrialized urban housing centers built within and around to support its workforces. What is surprising is that, a system established in the West, was universally adopted in the East, in economies that were predominantly agrarian and community oriented.

Remote working and alternative digital lifestyles started emerging much before the pandemic. However, in one year COVID-19 accelerated the move towards such alternative lifestyles.  COVID-19 proved that when employees are given the option of choosing their lifestyles, not only are they happier, but they’re also much more productive.

A recently conducted survey reveals that 7 in 10 Indians would prefer a hybrid work model as they feel that it will improve their mental well-being! This in turn has enabled companies to reduce their physical footprints, which for service oriented firms creates massive margin opportunities and is applicable for startups and big corporations alike. A TCS Press Release (Tata Consultancy Group) announced that only 25% of its global workforce of ~500k will be in offices by 2025!  

Over the past few years, workforces around the world shifted back to rural areas and villages, away from cities. And while many are being called back to offices post-COVID, our data suggests that a large percentage of workers will continue to work remotely. Excerpts from a Gartner report suggest that 1 in 3 Indians will be working remotely by 2022!

Robinhood Co-Living, a lifestyle brand, aims to support this generation of  remote workers and hybrid “Workationers” with unparalleled community based experiences.

Our pilot and flagship center nestled in the Indian Himalayas was designed to support long term living for international backpacking communities, with a secondary focus on digital workers. We built a first of its kind solar and battery microgrid, enabling uninterrupted connectivity, in a region where backup power comes at a premium. 

Pre-COVID, our guests consisted of a 50-50 split of international and domestic travelers. In March 2020, less than a year after our launch, COVID disrupted operations but upon re-opening we showed a strong ability to service domestic digital workers with packaged food and board offerings on a long-term stay basis. 

Nomads from across India, representing almost every service based industry imaginable (software development, consulting, marketing etc) have flocked to our hostel and co-living center, leveraging its unique offering to comfortably live and work in the Himalayas. 

I’m proud to say that we’re now close to achieving base profitability levels with a customer base that’s 100% domestic! 

Until September 2021, we had continued to build this pilot as a ‘Minimum Viable Product’ (MVP). However, after recognizing strong operating results and successes post-COVID, we made the decision to go all-in on this new lifestyle trend and redesigned our property to support co-living and digital co-working as its primary focus.

The results are nothing short of outstanding. We now have a co-working capacity (spread across the entirety of our Manali property) to comfortably support 40+ digital workers at once. We also built team meeting spaces and additional private spaces.

But it’s not enough to simply provide guests with an unparalleled experience. We’ve always maintained that hospitality companies, especially in developing markets should do more to foster long term value for all stakeholders in the ecosystem. The spirit of Robinhood is one of superior service and we believe that it’s our duty to serve not only our guests but also the local communities & environments we reside in.

As the nature of work changes, we ask ourselves is it possible to return to a more inclusive and community based mindset, where the focus is on sharing and giving back to the society? And can this shift in mindset foster a more personally fulfilling lifestyle for digital workers? 

To ensure a fair distribution of value as we grow, we organized a cooperative, where every single employee at Pahadi Robinhood is also an owner of the broader enterprise.

The waste management service established by Pahadi Robinhood was the first of its kind in the region. We do end to end waste management across 5 Panchayats (local municipalities) that includes collection and disposal of over 3000 tons of segregated waste till date! Our hope is that this community oriented behaviour and mindset is adopted by all players across this sector, to protect the ecosystems and economies of these tourist destinations over time. And perhaps it can foster more Joy amongst the working masses 🙂

As we grow and launch community centers across the globe, we invite you all to be Joyful and take part in the WFH revolution with us at Robinhood Co-Living, where sustainability and superior service go hand and hand.

Josh WIllig

Chief Joy Officer