SAINT JOHN – A local “productivity space” company will soon be offering people in the city a place to get work done on-the-go with its new “upods” – community-based mini work stations a little bit bigger than a phone booth.
USTATION is a membership-based company that wants to create a network of inspiring, tech-enabled spaces and technologies so people can be productive and “can get to work.” The company opened its first location in uptown Saint John in January, and now it’s ready to test out a new offering.
“The upods are a mini office that’s optimized with technology, the right lighting, video conferencing, and the ability to actually get online,” says USTATION co-founder Glen Hicks.
Placed in locations where professionals are often on-the-go, upods will allow people to connect to the technology of a full-fledged office.
“We have a computer system in them so you can actually log in. If you don’t have your machine with you and you’re on the run, you will be able to log into your Office365 or G Suite and do your work there,” says Hicks. “You’ll have a 27-inch monitor to do it on, like you’re actually at an office, plus the privacy to do it in.”
The first upods are expected to be deployed for testing in early 2020, thanks to a grant from Economic Development Greater Saint John‘s smart and connected city program. The pods will be able to be accessed by both members and non-members of USTATION. Members will book the upod through their app. Non-members will access it through a separate app. People will pay to use the pods in 30-minute increments.
Hicks says they will start by testing out three upods – where they will be placed is still being determined.
“We have the ideas, but we haven’t got a firm commitment to put them there yet,” he says. “But we would like to put them here in the downtown core where there’s a lot of activity. We are also looking to experiment out in Quispamsis potentially, at either the Qplex or a public space there.”
Hicks envisions upods being in places like airports, hockey rinks, and other high-traffic places where professionals often find themselves for extended periods time while they still want to be working.
“There will always be one in a USTATION [space] because it’s central to our franchising model,” says Hicks. “As franchisees come on board and have a great space, a part of becoming a USTATION is having a upod that connects that space into our network.”
Besides piloting the upods, Hicks says USTATION will also focus on opening its first franchises in New Brunswick next year. Since the company launched in January, it has been focusing on its Saint John location to make sure the technology and offerings are perfected before expanding.
“We’re in talks right now with about three different places in the province,” says Hicks. “We’ve been cautious because once we start propagating, we want to make sure that the experience is easily repeatable.”