If you have been working from home since March, you are now in your 21st week of remote work. How’s that going for ya?
I have been based at home since March, helping to run the flexible workspace company I own with my husband. I field the majority of prospective member calls, and spend a lot of time hearing what people in my community are looking for, as the new normal has really set in.
The people who call can be categorized into three main groups:
- Employees of large companies whose home situation is not suitable for their professional needs.
- Entrepreneurs who are starting a new venture and need an inexpensive space to work that will grow with their business.
- Heads of companies looking toward the future and assessing how to set up satellite offices for their employees.
Employees of Large Companies
When employees call me, they are usually pretty desperate. Their home office is just not suitable for such heavy, daily use—their WIFi isn’t strong enough; they don’t have a room of their own; the home furniture is not adequate for 8-10 hours of usage. Many of these people also have children at home who suddenly need to be on the home network for several hours a day doing schoolwork. The people who have pre-school children suddenly find themselves without the daily childcare they painstakingly chose—needing to be there for their kids while also taking care of their own professional obligations.
Here are a few solutions I have found for people in this situation.
- A husband and wife attorney team signed up for one office and took turns being in the office while the other was at home with their very young children. Our center allows them to access the space 24/7 so one of them COULD come in later in the evening. So far, they have made it work by trading off days.
- An accountant working during tax season, crazier this year due to the pandemic, signed up for our virtual workspace plan that also included 40 hours per month in a private office. She needed the high-speed WIFI, ergonomic furniture (her chair at home was giving her backaches!) and access to copier and scanner capabilities.
- A corporate executive who spends a lot of her day on teleconferences needed to be in a room with a big screen and whiteboard. Her company paid for a private office and added a big whiteboard to the provided furniture (she especially loved our sit/stand desk which allowed her to raise and lower the desk with the touch of a button. Her toddler son also appreciated this feature!). Her office plan includes meeting room credits which she has used when she needed the big screen in the large conference room.
Early on in the pandemic, I had a few calls from individuals who could not access their existing office space as the entire building shut down and locked the doors.
One person, an attorney with a well-established practice, signed up for a virtual plan, to obtain a professional address with mail delivery, and the meeting room credits to use towards day office and conference room use. He had a great home office but needed space for client meetings. When county health rules permitted, he used the big conference room (that would normally seat 8-10) for meetings with 2-3 people. This allowed for a safe meeting space, adhering to social distancing guidelines and mask-wearing.
Another man was beginning a career as a mortgage broker and signed up for our Business Address plan so he could have a professional address/mailbox and member-pricing on day use of the drop-in space. He has a very young child at home and needs the quiet of our center to study for his exams! He has now started to use private office space on a weekly basis and intends to get his own office in the very near future, as his business allows.
Satellite offices in suburban hubs
About three months into the pandemic, when it became apparent there was not going to be a resolution to the crisis for several months or even this year, I received a flurry of calls from firms who had been in the larger urban areas — they were doing their due diligence to see how the cost of flexible workspace compared to their existing traditional office leases. One high-tech firm CFO analyzed where his employees lived and realized my small, suburban city was ideally positioned to their homes. We wrote a proposal for them for 10 offices total—six would be single-occupancy and four would have 2-3 people in them. That CFO checks in with me bi-weekly and I have agreed to let him know before I sell one of “his” offices.
I have two other smaller proposals of 2-3 offices pending as well. When we as a society see a light at the end of the tunnel, there will be some big changes in the workspace world.