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The Office Airbnb

It isn’t often that I have a good idea, but when I get one — it’s a doozy.

My latest mega-brainstorm hit when I was reading a Steven Rosenbush article in “The Wall Street Journal.” Titled “Homeowners Tap the Income in Their Homes,” the article explains how ordinary folks are turning spare rooms into spare cash by offering short-term rentals in their homes.

On one website alone, Airbnb.com, more than 800,000 listings attracted more than 10 million guests in the first eight months of 2014, up from over six million for all of 2013.

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Though it is difficult to understand why anyone would rather stay in your spare bedroom for $25 a day, when they can spend $200 a day to book a teeny-tiny, highly disinfected room at the Holiday Inn, you can’t deny the appeal of making a few extra bucks from a few extra square feet of floor space. Why, with that kind of money, you could eventually amortize all the money you’ve spent on macrame toilet paper roll covers from the Kim Kardashian Home Collection at Radio Shack.

In fact, the only problem in this booming, rooming aspect of the “sharing economy” is the basic problem of inviting some strange weirdo in your home; and I’m talking about a strange weirdo you don’t live with, aren’t married to, or don’t date.

“It’s actually a deep challenge to the way we live as a society to open your home to strangers,” Rosenbush reports. “At the core of our survival instincts is determining whether the other is a friend or foe.”

It’s true! Think how horrible it would be if there were a knock on your door, and standing on the stoop, suitcase in hand, was a person like me. Or, worse, like you.

That was my Eureka moment. You certainly wouldn’t invite a person like you into your home, even for $25 a day, but it would be absolutely no problem to invite them into your office.

Heck, your office is already filled with strange weirdos, and they’re not paying you a penny to steal your food, or creep you out with their crazy talk and zombie eyes.

Of course, you may have to use all your marketing skills to describe the amenities your office guests will enjoy. Like unlimited free copying and open access to all staff meetings that last three hours or longer. You could also throw in a free welcome gift bag including a stapler, a box of No. 2 pencils, and a potpourri of business cards from your last networking event.

Plus, there’s the opportunity to experience life in a foreign environment — very foreign, if what I hear about your workplace is true. Still, what tourist would not want to “experience the emotional roller coaster of an unremittingly negative 360-degree review as a 20-year employee losses their pension and is dismissed without severance.”

You can also provide that basic staple of any bnb visit — fresh baked muffins. At least, you can come close. As an experienced Airbnb host comments, “Guests love added goodies they haven’t been promised.” Who wouldn’t be thrilled to have first dibs at the luncheon leftovers from an executive committee meeting? Even if those schnorrers on Mahogany Row eat all the lobster and caviar, you can be pretty sure there will be plenty of parsley your guests can enjoy.

Best of all, you can also offer your officebnb guest the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience local life by taking over all your assignments. This will be good for your guest and great for you, since your boss will be amazed and delighted that you actually accomplished something.

No question, the daytime activities offered at your work place will be a step up from the typical tourist routine. This still leaves an important question — where will your officebnb guest sleep? The answer is obvious. Your guest will sleep in the same place you sleep — sitting up at your desk, pretending to work. This will not be a problem at night, when your supervisors go home, but it could be an issue during the day, since you will need a new place to sleep.

I suggest you immediately book yourself into Steven Rosenbush’s office at “The Wall Street Journal.” I bet it’s totally plush, with a hot tub on every floor and rumba band in the conference room. I’m sure he’d welcome you; so don’t bother making a reservation. Just show up. And don’t forget to pack your bathing suit and your dancing shoes.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@bgplanning.com.

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