In The News - By focusing on the suburbs, Jacksonville co-work operator says 'phones are ringing again'

As seen in the Jacksonville Business Journal May 22, 2020:

By focusing on the suburbs, Jacksonville co-work operator says 'phones are ringing again'

There's a lot that go wrong whenever a business expands to a new location. Inventory may arrive late. Construction may be behind schedule. Customers may not be as receptive as anticipated.

But for Michael Wielgus, the Jacksonville franchisee of co-work company Office Evolution, what went wrong was a global pandemic and a work from home order two weeks after he opened Office Evolution at Bartram Park, his second Jacksonville location.

Wielgus has operated an 8,000-square-foot location near the St. Johns Town Center since 2018; it entered this year fully leased.

The new, 10,000-square-foot location in The Offices at Flagler Center features 45 private offices, a shared working space, a lounge and three conference rooms. It opened on March 2 with a third of offices pre-leased.

The offices were able to remain open through March and April because Office Evolution, as a commercial mail receiving agency, was deemed an essential service, as were some of its tenants. Office hours were reduced to 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., but essential tenants could access the locations 24 hours a day. The offices reopened to all tenants on May 4.

For the short-term, Covid-19 has hurt Wielgus's business...

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In the long-term, however, Wielgus expects Covid-19 will play to the greatest advantage of co-work spaces: flexibility. Leases range from one month to 12, and tenants can choose fully furnished private offices, a first- come-first-served desk in shared spaces or many options in between.

Wielgus expects to retain his usual client base businesses with one to five employees and companies new to the area while they build out their own space and gain three new lines of business...

Not only is co-working space situated to benefit from the long-term consequences of Covid-19, Wielgus said, but Office Evolution is also uniquely situated among co-working companies to maximize those benefits.

Wielgus believes his franchises are differentiated by their size, which is smaller than many co-working spaces, by their ground-floor locations, which makes elevator sanitation a non-factor, and their suburban settings.

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"We put our locations in the suburbs, and that is very different than a lot of co-working companies," he said. "Most co-working companies that you would have heard of or read about are usually in urban areas, and they're in the big cities. Those are the ones that are getting slammed."

Space in Wielgus's locations is also divided about 80% private offices and 20% common areas, allowing the majority of space to already comply with social distancing guidelines.

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Find more information about the Office Evolution locations in Jacksonville and Jacksonville Bartram. Or find an Office Evolution location in your area.

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Written by: Andrea Pirrotti

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Office Evolution has more than 70 locations open, 140 units sold in markets across the country and is poised for further growth as the demand for affordable and safe, workspace close-to-home continues to rise.

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