Westchesterites who are sick of working from home have an increasing amount of flexible workspace remedies.
The key word is “flexible,” according to the experts. The wants, needs, and demands — along with potential clientele — is evolving. And workspaces are transforming to meet expectations.
When offices shut down last fall, plenty of professionals realized there was a price to pay for avoiding the grind of the daily commute. Working from home also meant navigating an obstacle course of attention seekers: bored children, whining dogs, and the constant nag of regular household duties — that lightbulb isn’t going to change itself, after all.
When professional workspaces, or coworking spaces, first entered the national conscience a few years ago — led by the headline-making WeWork — the communal aspect was top of mind: Brainstorming sessions, dart boards and deep dives over glasses of pinot grigio.
The pandemic created an entirely new clientele for coworking. Basically, members of nearly every profession were looking for office space. This diverse group has a range of needs, bringing on the demand for not just any office space, but “flexible” office space.
“Whether it’s individual office space, or traditional office space, we’re building flexible office space,” says Debra Larsen, founder of WorkHouse, which offers work space in Manhattan and, more recently, Bedford. “It’s flexible whether you’re referring to the office size or the length of stay.”
WorkHouse Bedford opened about a year ago with flexible office solutions including individual office spaces along with coworking memberships. The 30,000 sq. ft. building is currently being renovated, and Larsen expects it to be completed this summer.
“Flexible office space provides a nice separation between work and state,” Larsen says. “There’s too much distraction at home. The workplace is where you work.”
Larsen says working from home has created serious issues for some.
“Even if you have a big house, you want to get out of the house occasionally,” she says. “One of my friends said, ‘You’ve saved my marriage,’ because the husband was working at home. It was too much togetherness.”
Adam Stoltz, co-founder of The Idea Kitchen in Larchmont, says the business was founded out of a community-driven need for professional alternatives to the unpredictable nature of the coffee shop experience and the isolation of working from home.
“Suburban workers are attracted to a flexible office for its ability to fit effectively into their lives,” he says. “Perhaps they have a side gig or are trying to get a business off the ground without exposing themselves to the overhead cost and permanence of a traditional lease. Or their city-based job requires working with global teams early in the morning or late at night, and [they] would rather do that near home, rather than extend those hours to factor a commute.”
Stoltz adds that The Idea Kitchen emphasizes flexibility with a range of work settings, including offices, desks, and meeting space, understanding that people want open and enclosed, formal and informal, active and quiet, and individual and group at different times. Membership includes a full suite of workplace amenities that members have come to expect with today’s modern environments — printing, bottomless coffee, tea, and drinks, snacks and fresh fruit, plus ergonomic furniture and 24/7 building access.
“We’re seeing an evolution in the type of professional attracted to coworking spaces: designers, architects, financial advisors, lawyers, medical professionals, accountants, artists, consultants, therapists, real estate agents — you name it,” adds Stoltz.
Work Inn, a second work space in Larchmont, closed in March.
Kristine Saljanin, general manager of Westchester Business Center in White Plains, says, “In Westchester the model has evolved a bit towards the private office rather than coworking setup.”
The White Plains location of Westchester Business Center offers private offices, conference rooms, day offices, therapy rooms, and a Zoom video room. Administrative support ranges from answering phones to packing and shipping services, virtual mail, and phone support.
“As the pandemic shut down the state and remote learning was enforced, quickly professionals saw the need to be in an environment that was equipped and designed for privacy allowing them to do calls and meetings with 24/7 access,” Saljanin says. “It is also a very efficient way to run a small business and still have very professional common space to support your client and employee needs.”
A second Westchester Business Center location is scheduled for a late spring/early summer opening at Chappaqua Crossing.
“We think post-COVID, this will continue to be attractive,” Saljanin says. “More business can be done through technology and is likely to continue, so a fully equipped office near home can be more productive than working from home and more convenient than commuting to the city.”
Westchester now has a wealth of co-working spaces across the county, including:
Ground Floor Coworking
Koi Creative Space
Rye & White Plains
Speak Easy 10562
The Aligned Center
The Idea Kitchen
Westchester Business Center
White Plains (Chappaqua coming soon)