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Tech Talks: how what3words are putting flexible workspaces on the map

NearU

03 Nov, 2021

Technology has always changed with the times. When humans needed to transport goods more effectively, we invented the wheel. When we needed to a device to help us navigate the globe, we created the compass. And when we decided we'd had enough of commuting to the same office for hours every day, we invented NearU (yes, we did just compare our app to two of the most ground-breaking technologies the world has ever seen).

Obviously we're exaggerating, but the point still stands. Technology has always adapted to support different needs; the past decade alone has seen an explosion in communication hardware and software all designed to help the world of work move increasingly online. 

Now, more companies than ever are relying on new, innovative technologies to keep their hybrid workforces connected, regardless of where they are in the world. It's exciting - but it's also unchartered territory, and the tech you use (or don't use) could make or break your business.

But don't worry - NearU are here to make every aspect of flexible working easy. That's why we started this brand new series, Tech Talks, all about championing the latest technologies that are helping to inform the future of work. And what better platform to begin with than our newest partner, what3words?

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We've joined the likes of Airbnb, Cabify, and Mercedes Benz in working with what3words. Their integration means it will be easier than ever for our users to find workspaces near them. Whether you're struggling to locate an office in a busy city centre, or your SatNav is having trouble with getting you to one of our rural sites, what3words will show you where you want to be, instantly. But why are you taking our word for it? 

We caught up with Tom Boal, Head of Operations, who explained just how what3words will fit into the future of work...


Can you summarise what your platform is/does in a sentence?
Tom: what3words is the simplest way to talk about location. We've divided the whole world into 3m x 3m squares and given each one a unique three word address. For example, the front door to our London office can be found at ///filled.count.soap. 

This allows people to refer to any precise location—whether that's a delivery entrance or drone landing spot—by using three simple words. Businesses and governments use what3words to operate more effectively and ordinary individuals to find and share places worldwide.

What role do you see technology playing in the future of work? How will your platform fit into that?
How many times have you gone to a meeting or interview and got lost trying to find the right entrance? It’s always an unnecessarily stressful start. With what3words buildings and offices, particularly those with multiple entrances, can easily show their visitors exactly where to find them.

A great example is our own office in Paddington, west London. If you use a navigation app by itself, you will be directed to jump off the Westway, an elevated motorway. With what3words you’ll get right to the front door.

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How have companies been using your platform so far?
Millions of people use what3words in their everyday lives, to get to meetings stress-free, to meet friends in parks, to get deliveries, and using voice in their cars. During lockdown we saw a huge increase in e-commerce and logistics, and our SME business use grew by over 1,000%.

Hybrid working - is it here to stay?
I have no doubt that hybrid working is here to stay - the era of five days a week in the office is over. I believe that there are benefits to having both time in the office and at home - it makes for better, more efficient work, and a better work-life balance for everyone.

However I also love having our office open again. It’s the company’s ‘home’ and it's a great place to work. It's got our branding and our culture literally on the walls, and the sense of excited buzz on busy days is tangible.

Any tech platforms you'd like to give a shoutout to while you're here? Maybe one that has helped your company during the transition to more digital working.
We had them both long before lockdown or hybrid working but we really couldn’t function without the twin internal comms marvels of Slack and Notion. Slack is obviously great for making sure the right people have the latest information - very little information is siloed - and we use Notion as the single source of truth for more permanent company information like policies and other things more traditionally kept on an intranet. We spend a lot of time tweaking how we use both systems to make sure we’re getting the best out of them.

Want to see what3words in action for yourself? Download NearU from the App Store or Google Play and start searching for a space near you. Don't be alarmed if your workspace doesn't have a listed w3w address yet - it's a new integration so your host may not have got around to adding. But if you're having trouble finding a space, just get in contact with us at information@nearu.io.