Tiny houses became millennial catnip in the 2010s, a trendy solution for people looking to downsize, live life on the go, or buy a home they could actually afford. But in the 2020s, this mode of alternative living has been reinvented as a get-away for remote workers.
Enter Find Sanctuary, a startup that offers micro cabins fully equipped with tiny offices and Wi-Fi to serve as off-sites for C-suite team retreats and remote companies. It’s capitalizing on the new era of workplace flexibility that white-collar workers discovered during the pandemic and the Great Resignation, building tiny house sites a two-hour drive from major metropolitan areas. The first is set to open in 2023 with 40 tiny cabins in Big Bear, California, near Los Angeles, with plans to expand to San Francisco and New York City.
“We are targeting overworked, overstimulated city dwellers who enjoy the outdoors but struggle to prioritize and access [it],” Charlie Hammond, founder of Find Sanctuary, told Fortune. While he’s specifically targeting startups and tech groups that focus on the well-being of their workers, vacationers are also welcome to stay there.
But the timber cabins don’t come cheap, starting at $400 a night. With a simple exterior that blends into the natural fauna and large windows, the cabins’ design focuses on connectivity to the outdoors. There’s even a “meditation rock” and hot tub on the grounds.
It all points to Hammonds’ perception of Find Sanctuary as a mental health initiative brought to life as a hospitality offering. He says the concept emerged in response to his own mental health struggles, inspired by Johann Hari’s Lost Connections, a book that he views as a “modern day bible” on what makes humans happy and content. Spending time in nature was a key part of human well-being, which Hammond felt was neglected among workers who were stuck in cities. Find Sanctuary is supposed to act as a “bridge to the natural world” for these urbanites.
He might be on to something. Many people struggled with mental health issues during the early pandemic, with worldwide reports of anxiety and depression increasing by 25% in 2020. Struggling to retain talent as employees experienced burnout, a number of companies took note and began focusing on addressing worker well-being. Find Sanctuary is one way they can do that.
But the development comes at a time when CEOs are pushing workers back to their desks, with more workers back in the office than ever since the pandemic began. Hammond is banking on the idea that the future of work will stay remote—at least part-time. Experts agree; recent data from WFH Research shows the number of days that employers allowed their workers to operate remotely has increased.
While this flexibility has had a lot of positives for workers such as saving commute time, Hammond says, it’s also had its downsides by blurring the lines between work and home and fostering an “always on” work environment. He added that team connection and employee retention suffers without centralized physical spaces.
Find Sanctuary’s “Work from the Woods” solution is meant to rectify that, advocating for a world where employees can have two to three days in nature per quarter. Hammond sees this as a way to lower cortisol while “providing clarity and space to focus on any necessary work” and preventing employee burnout and team disconnect. So far, 25 companies are on the waitlist to book their own tiny cabin, per a Find Sanctuary press release.
In Find Sanctuary’s world, remote workers can have their cake and eat it too. Or at least have rain showers and Zoom calls.
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