As seen in the Times Union
Flexible and coworking spaces are rebounding from the pandemic with continuous growth after COVID thrust creative work conditions onto employers.
Coworking hubs are locations occupied by several companies and individuals. They typically offer private offices for rent or memberships where individuals can work out of an open desk environment and share common amenities with others using the space.
Tom Nardacci, owner of the Troy Innovation Garage and Bull Moose Club in Albany, recalled losing approximately 60 percent of business across both workspaces during the lowest point of the pandemic, a dramatic change from the overwhelming “110 percent” capacity prior to last year’s shutdowns.
Nardacci had 50 private offices and 185 coworking members between both locations before the crisis ensued. The private offices were doing so well, that he had to start a waiting list. But when COVID took hold, he watched as memberships stalled, members dropped off and private office rentals took a hit.
Mark Eagan, president and chief executive officer of the Capital Region Chamber of Commerce, said people questioned how viable coworking spaces were during the pandemic because of social distancing. The industry endured a lull in participation, then rallied when restrictions were lifted.
Nardacci said coming back from those blows has been a “slow build-back,” but activity picked up in the last couple of months from what he called a “pent-up demand.
“Now, we have one open office available total between two spaces,” he said, noting that people are coming back and that he’s received more calls than ever in the past six months from companies inquiring about the space as they sort out return-to-office plans.
Patrick Harris Jr., president of the Collectiveffort in Troy, and Tracy Metzger, owner of the Beahive in Albany, said they’d experienced a similar uptick in demand. Harris said he’s seen more interest from businesses than individuals and Metzger, more desire for private offices than open workspaces.
Harris explained that coworking was viewed as a “luxury” in the before time, pre-COVID. The residual effect of remote working has forced employers and workers alike to realign their values around the traditional workplace culture and realize the value of flexible workspaces as a “tactical” business option.