COVID-19 has closed workplaces across the U.S., and the luckiest among us may never be forced to return to an office again. That’s an intriguing option for people who can suddenly log in from anywhere. And now, the nation’s most storied and shiny RV brand, Airstream, plans to seize this moment with a brand-new trailer optimized for working on the go.
Called the Flying Cloud 30FB Office, it’s a $107,500, 6,800 pound, 30-foot aluminum trailer that sleeps up to six people. It features a bedroom, bathroom with shower, three closets, and a kitchenette. But its biggest twist is the addition of a (mobile) home office—a space made possible thanks to a completely overhauled floor plan.
“It was absolutely inspired by the pandemic,” says Bob Wheeler, president and CEO of Airstream, “but also done in anticipation of the exciting new opportunities that work from anywhere will bring for the long haul.”
The trailer has a back room with space for a built-in desk and included office chair. It’s wrapped in sound-absorbent walls (though notably it just has a curtain, no door), complete with a Zoom-friendly neutral backdrop. Overhead storage cabinets can hold supplies, but you can also write directly onto them with dry erase marker, like a makeshift whiteboard. A one-person bed can be pulled out for after hours (or, sure, during the workday; we’re not judging).
The desk features easy-to-reach USB ports and outlets that offer up to 1,000 watts of power. (So you might be pushing it with a full gaming PC and monitor, but a few Macbooks and your phone will do just fine.) An antenna on the roof keeps an internet signal for your onboard Wi-Fi. You can even add rooftop solar panels for $2,400 for those times you want to recharge off the grid.
Ohio-based Airstream and its parent company, Thor Industries, have been on a roll for the past several years as millennials are attracted to the Instagram-friendly silver campers and the possibility of working on the road. But 2020 proved exceptional for the brand. As quarantine began, trailer purchases followed. Airstream dealership sales were up 22% in 2020 as it courted new customers; 46% of its sales last year were to first-time RV buyers.
“Almost as soon as we returned from our six-week, state-mandated shutdown in April, we saw business explode. We had anticipated that Airstreaming might check a lot of boxes for people looking to [travel] safely in a world where flights and cruises were off the table, but we were blown away by the level of demand,” Wheeler says. “So far, we’ve seen no signs of this demand slowing.”
Airstream doesn’t claim to know exactly what the addressable market is for the future, though a national survey the company conducted last year found that nearly half of its respondents were hoping to work from the road. In any case, the company does not believe the digital nomad trend is going anywhere soon, and Wheeler admits he sees the need for more Airstream floor plans with dedicated working space.
“But let’s face it,” Wheeler says, “no matter how good our design is, it’s hard to beat sitting outside in your campsite where a glance up from the laptop rewards you with an amazing natural vista.”