Herndon co-working office expands in changing business landscape

Attorney David Whiting worked from home for a few weeks during the COVID-19 shutdown in the spring of 2020, but with a house full of children and seven-day workweeks, he found himself back in his rented single-person office.

Whiting and over 100 members, from tech companies to remote workers, are part of Office Evolution at The Atrium at Worldgate (205 Van Buren St.), a four-story office building in Herndon.

“It’s turnkey,” said Whiting, who has had his law firm, Oak Hill Law Group, there for about two and a half years. “It’s just so damn convenient.”

Office Evolution – Herndon opened in March 2019 and expanded in April by taking over an empty space, extending its footprint to around 12,000 square feet.

“We added 35 offices,” said Martin Gruszka, the location’s owner, noting the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce has taken space in the new office suite.

Kim DeWitt, the location’s business center manager, noted that people are wanting to avoid entire workweeks in a typical office, so the coworking environment helps remote workers have both community and independence. It’s open 24/7.

Customers can have month-to-month memberships with customized leases that allow for shared meeting rooms and other amenities. Others simply just want a mailing address with no physical office space, said Gruszka. He’s seen contractors looking for a way to have a physical location to maintain their relationship with the government.

Gruszka says that its members have been especially interested in looking for focus, quiet and the routine of an office environment.

On the employer side, businesses are looking at underutilized commercial spaces amid teleworking boons.

“We’re seeing a lot more from companies that are paring down their office space,” Gruszka said. “They have a lease: Nobody’s using it anymore,” but companies may want to move a department to a smaller location.

But not all co-working models have been a success. In January, MakeOffices — another co-working space — announced plans to shutter its doors at Reston Town Center and other local locations.

Whiting, who rents a private office there for his law firm, says the formal, stodgy office is changing as businesses look for smaller spaces, and Office Evolution allows him to scale up or scale down depending on his needs.

Even though the world is seeking to recover from COVID-19, many businesses are still struggling. Of over 3,400 businesses surveyed from Oct. 30 to Nov. 9 by networking service Alignable, only 27% of businesses are currently reporting that they are at or above pre-coronavirus revenue levels, which is 8 percentage points worse than the 35% level of progress it reported in July.

Now, as companies advertise jobs, some are offering additional stipends for remote work expenses. Gruszka and DeWitt suggested that workers may want to address what telecommuting reimbursements they get, whether or not they’re in a coworking space.

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