Five months after Atlanta’s first “stafer at home” order locked office doors across the city, there is no shortage of hot takes about what the future of work will look like.
While companies debate whether offices will open in the fall, or next year — or if they will ever open again — employees have transformed dining room tables and bedroom corners into makeshift offices. While this has made for some fun cameo appearances from dogs and toddlers in team Zoom meetings, it has further complicated the concept of work-life balance.
But it has also created an opportunity for coworking spaces to transform beyond their traditional startup hub feel and serve employees desperate to get out of the house. That may be because the next generation of co-working spaces understand that even as physical offices stay closed, location is still everything.
New spaces like Firmspace Atlanta are breaking ground in Atlanta, seemingly defying the fact that we’re in the middle of a pandemic. The Austin-based company will launch their Buckhead office next week, in hopes of bringing in professionals who aren’t satisfied with the standard co-working model.
“We launched Firmspace Atlanta with a vision of helping professionals find the kind of office space they truly need,” said Firmspace CEO Anish Michael in a statement. “Unlike coworking spaces, whose business models are built on gathering as many people as possible in a small space, Firmspace’s ‘proworking’ spaces are designed to foster hyper-focused work in an environment that’s safe, spacious and discreet.”
The Buckhead location will move beyond the traditional coworking model to help working professionals get back a bit of the office feel while adhering to social distancing guidelines.
Even with COVID-related uncertainty, Firmspace is expanding throughout the country in the coming months. Beyond Atlanta, the company will open space in Chicago, Dallas, and Nashville in 2021.
Firmspace Atlanta will have a soft opening for members on September 8.
Early versions of co-working spaces were geared towards tech startups who did not have a traditional employee or office model. But as everyone from corporate execs to summer interns grapples with work-from-home mandates, co-working spaces are recognizing the need to provide space for consultants, lawyers, and other professional services employees who aren’t going into large office complexes.
While outside co-working companies are moving in, current spaces in Atlanta are competing, reimagining their roles in the work-from-home culture. Switchyards has taken their networking out of the office and onto the Beltline with Curb Cup, designed for members and those on the waitlist to get out of the house and enjoy a cup of coffee.
Even before the pandemic, Switchyards was looking to capitalize on new office models and the desire for people to
have more flexibility in how they worked. The company’s “neighborhood work club” member concepts will expand into the Inman Park, Cabbagetown, and Westside neighborhoods, when deemed safe to open.
Whether permanent work-from-home becomes the norm for companies large and small is still up for debate. But in the meantime, coworking spaces will need to continuously transform to meet the needs of employees looking to safely reclaim work-life balance.