Unfortunately, the construction industry loathes getting left out of the sharing economy conversation. But with workforce rentals, that's all about to change. Here's everything you need to know about Nevada-based Workbnb, the new online travel agency App that skipped debuting at CES 2022 in exchange for direct feedback with real managers.
Fact: 12,000 workers in round-the-clock shifts took the monumental Las Vegas design-build from a huge hole in the desert to game day in 31 months. Photo credit: RYO Alexandre
With so many online platforms these days like Booking.com, Turo, and Uber, it's not hard to see why people are so fascinated with the sharing economy.
But what you may not know is that software development experts have a roadmap to achieve something called "product-market fit," coined by Marc Andreessen, and the leadership of Workbnb, Inc believes they have the master key for the construction industry.
In a 2017 blog post, Mr. Andreessen, the renowned Venture capitalist, once said, "Product-market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market."
Photo credit: Lenny Rachitsky | lennysan.eth | @lennysan on Twitter
Many different companies offer "short-term" rental home services in today's world - the most popular is known as "Airbnb or VRBO." However, those who invented those services specifically made them for vacation travels and family affairs. Adopting these platforms is equivalent to putting a square in a round hole for construction management. Thus traveling workers are often placed in hotels and motels for weeks and months without kitchens, which relates to low employee morale and a direct correlation to low productivity.
What are workforce rental homes?
Renting properties to travelers is a trade that is old as time.
An executive-level 'workforce rental home' available in Henderson, Nevada. Photo credit: Baron Jay Littleton, Jr.
The term workforce rental home is unique and mainly recognized on the ground floor in the US. A workforce rental is the business of renting out a fully-furnished apartment, single-family residence, townhome, duplex, or condominium strategically designated for temporary, mid-term extended stay terms for essential workers and relocators such as traveling doctors and nurses, lab technicians, contractors, engineers, journeymen linemen, remote workers, and more. Special features include dedicated workstations, workshops, tool storage, etc.
A sneak peek inside the executive-level 'workforce rental home' in Henderson, Nevada. Photo credit: Baron Jay Littleton, Jr.
Workforce rental home rates are typically "static" nightly rates to make the accommodation or "product" fit better for the market, rather deal with "dynamic pricing" and seasonal price increases highly favored by hotels, motels, and vacation rentals. Workforce rental homes can as be identified on social media platforms using the hashtag: #workforcerentals.
Example: In late 2019, PKL Homes, a Reno Nevada-based short-term rental operator, predicted Covid-19 would make it to the US and devastate vacation travel. CEO Pam Loveless decided to pivot away from vacation rentals and rebrand her units as "workforce rentals" in a February 2020 cover story in the Northern Nevada Business Weekly and then again in a September 2020 article titled "A Solution to Workforce Housing in Reno: Flexible Short Term Rentals with PKL Homes."
PKL Homes advertising "workforce rentals" at Greater Nevada field in Reno, Nevada October, 2020.
Mr. Andreessen further defines product/market fit as "The customers are buying the product just as fast as you can make it -- or usage is growing just as fast as you can add more servers. Money from customers is piling up in your company checking account. You're hiring sales and customer support staff as fast as you can." PKL Homes experienced a 300 percent growth in gross revenues within eight months, quickly scaled up available units and averaged over 90 percent occupancy.
So what's different about flexible, custom workforce rentals versus putting up project crews in long extended stay hotels or putting executives in vacation rentals through Airbnb? Dedication.
During the pandemic, project management for Ames Construction had developed new strategies and partnerships to stay on track for a large-scale Freeway expansion project in Reno, Nevada. One of those partnerships was with PKL Homes.
"PKL's dedication to providing the highest-quality workforce housing in Reno has saved me countless hours of coordination, improved the morale of employees, and has provided exceptional value..." said Seth Alexander, project executive for Ames Construction.
In an April 2021 article for the Northern Nevada Business Weekly, Ames Construction touts the construction of the Spaghetti Bowl Xpress has not slowed. "The project is right on schedule," said Alexander. Ames Construction is in a joint contract with Sparks, Nevada based Q&D Construction on the project. "Luckily, in this state, construction was deemed an essential industry, so we continue to work on this project through the pandemic, both on design and construction."
A road crew works on the Reno-Sparks Spaghetti Bowl Xpress project in February, 2021. Photo credit: Kaleb Roedel
Alexander also went on to say that the only speed bumps early on were tracking down the necessary personal protective equipment for the roughly 300 construction workers employed on the project and following social distancing protocols. Despite current Covid conditions and the Delta, Omicron variants, the entire overhaul will continue through 2039. Although, Alexander might have 99 problems for years to come, but workforce housing will not be one.
This type of rental home is the definition of absolute product-market fit.
Incredible timing for the Workbnb App
Recent data highly suggests the Great Resignation has accelerated as another 4.5 million American workers quit for the eighth month in a row. Nick Bunker, the economic research director at Indeed, told Business Insider, "Near the end of 2021, workers still had that pretty advantageous position in the labor market — by quitting their job and taking a new one."
And 76% of HR professionals believe the quitting trend will continue, according to the 2022 HR Industry Trends Report from TrustRadius, an Austin, TX-based review site for business technology. The report polled 764 HR professionals from the associate level to C-suite across industries in the United States.
The 'Quitting' trend has the construction industry on edge and seeking viable solutions to adopt. Photo credit: Jeffrey B. Banke
Construction HR experts widely agree historic nationwide staffing shortages are a byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic, in which employees have revaluated their priorities. They're seeking more money, enhanced benefits, better working conditions, better travel accommodations, and increased mobility. Combine that mass turnover with generational retirement and talent shortages due to health concerns.
It becomes abundantly clear that workforce rental homes are to leverage as a tool to boost employee morale.
Therefore, Workbnb leadership took calculated steps to interview project executives, including Seth Alexander of Ames Construction, to discuss his positive experience adopting workforce rentals and identify the 'Big' problem (employee morale) and immaculate timing (labor crisis).
The feedback allowed the travel startup to hone in its unique user journey and develop a platform dedicated to connecting traveling workers with workforce rental homes throughout the US and bringing this better product up to scale.
Photo Above: Workbnb, Inc's Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Yeves Perez, with Seth Alexander, Project Executive, Ames Construction together in Reno, Nevada discussing the alpha test for the Workbnb App in Dec 2021.
"Employees will no longer tolerate being overworked, underpaid, and unsupported," says Jamy Conrad, senior director of people at TrustRadius. "This empowered workforce is challenging companies to support them with better onboarding, benefits, and overall flexibility."
Workbnb will begin alpha testing a workable test App this month to conduct first bookings throughout Nevada, Texas, and Florida. Photo credit: Workbnb, Inc
YouTube Video: 2022 Travel Predictions For Traveling Workers By Workbnb CEO, Essential Workers, Remote Workers
Next Steps for the Workbnb App
The young travel startup requests more interviews with Office administrators, managers, and project executives to discuss additional pain points and future projects needing workforce rental homes. Within one to three years, the Nevada-based company seeks to earn the confidence of Kiewit, Turner, Swinerton, McCarthy, SR Construction, and many more including AECOM (relocation to Dallas) before the staggering infrastructure investment projects begins.
A sneak peek inside a quality 'workforce rental home' in Boise, Idaho. Photo credit: Michael Dawson & KC Barnwell.
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Kitchen view inside a quality 'workforce rental home' in Boise, Idaho. Photo credit: Michael Dawson & KC Barnwell.
With over 300 workforce rental homes to upstart first bookings via the Workforce Rental Prodigies Mentorship program, Workbnb has taken deliberate steps to be product-growth-led, allowing the company to differentiate further. Workbnb's leadership deeply subscribes to expert advice in regards to 'product thinking' and 'product sense' from experts like Shreyas Doshi, who helped build products at Stripe, Twitter, and Google. Combined, implementing these strategies for the underdog platform over the next three to six months will be telling as far timing.
"I believe 'timing' is an art, with no single right approach - but infinite bad ones," said Reid Hoffman, co-founder of Linkedin, partner of Greylock, and host of Masters of Scale podcast. "A lot of timing rests on whether there is an ecosystem to support your product."
All the best tech needed its first 'ah-ha' moment with the ideal ecosystem, and for Workbnb - that time has come.
Click here to request an interview appointment with Workbnb, Inc.
Notable mention: Workbnb, Inc was recently accepted in the Microsoft For Startups program in Dec. 2021 and will be launching an offering on Wefunder shortly.