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Is office life changed forever?

Companies, employees seeking out new workspace
Communal work space in Palm Beach Gardens
Posted at 10:59 AM, Oct 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-06 10:59:06-04

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — The pros and cons of working from home go on and on. Many believe the way people work may be forever changed due to COVID-19.

Chris Barkauskas, the managing director of Institutional Equities, said he tried working from home for a week when the pandemic first began.

"The week I worked from home was very difficult," he said. "We have three children at home."

He said it was way too disruptive. He turned to a private office in a communal work space.

"For me, when I walk out the door, it's like I put my game face," he said. "You put the blazer on, you come into the office. It's your uniform. You're ready to work. When you don't have that separation of office and home, I think you lose that thing that kind of thing that clicks."

Chris Barkauskas and his work space
Chris Barkauskas, the managing director of Institutional Equities, said he tried working from home for a week when the pandemic first began. It ultimately proved too distracting, so he rented a private office in a communal work space.

Some love the flexibility of working from home. Others said the lack of separation from the office is a real problem. It's the belief that because you are home, you are always at work.

"When we started that process, it was called work from home, and that has now turned into living at work," Barkauskas said.

"I think people are getting a little burnt out with that," Jeannie Fowle, the owner of Venture X in Palm Beach Gardens, a place for communal work space, plus private offices for short- and long-term rentals, said. "I'm also hearing from people that they are working far greater hours and that there is really a lot of blurriness between their business and home life."

Venture X has had to change how it does things with COVID-19, when it comes to cleaning and spacing. But, Fowle said, people who don't have an office to go to anymore are turning to them.

Venture X sign
Venture X is a place for communal work space, plus private offices for short- and long-term rentals.

"If there's somebody whose working on a big project and they can't run the risk of the dog bark or the kids fight in the background, they might come to us," she said.

Fowle said they are also in talks with some larger companies who realize they don’t need the real estate footprint they once had.

"They realize, 'I'm paying a pretty hefty price, and I don't have a lot of workers in the space,'" she said.

Now the question is, are traditional office spaces that bring large numbers of people together a thing of the past? Or maybe it's just farther down the road.

"One thing that I think COVID has made people realize is that they can work from anywhere," Fowle said.