Missy Creed McFerron (left) and Sarah Bohl | Courtesy of McFerron and Bohl

The pandemic could have killed coworking spaces. But now, it’s turning the young industry into a more appealing option for some businesses and employees. 

Coworking spaces are shared office spaces with workers from different companies.  While traditional offices typically have just one business inhabiting them, multiple businesses can share the same office in a coworking space. 

The beginning of the pandemic halted operations and stunted profits for many coworking spaces because workers were sent home to avoid exposure to the COVID-19 virus, which threatened the sustainability of coworking spaces in the short term. But it has also changed the culture of the workplace in ways that help the industry. 

For instance, after many employees worked from home the last few years,  some employers are questioning the need for a permanent office. About three-fourths of Fortune 500 CEOs said in a Fortune poll last year that they expect to reduce office space in the future. Businesses scaling down their office spaces could draw workers who value the social atmosphere of an office to coworking spaces. 

Sarah Bohl and Missy Creed McFerron own the Campus Coworking Space in Jefferson City. They spoke with Missouri Business Alert on March 25 about the benefits of coworking spaces and the industry’s future.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Missouri Business Alert: What are some of the advantages that a coworking space gives businesses and employees?

Missy Creed McFerron: One, it’s eco-friendly. We’re sharing amenities. So instead of needing five printers at your different five home offices, you can share a printer. Community also plays a role in it. And what is unique about coworking spaces is that you’re making connections and speaking with people who are usually in different industries. So it’s a completely different perspective than if you were in an office where everyone is focused on the same business and industry. So I think those two things: the shared amenities and the community.

MBA: What are the benefits of working in industry-specific shared spaces with other businesses? What’s been some of the feedback that you’ve received  from tenants? 

MCM: You’re meeting people that you wouldn’t normally meet in a setting that’s very comfortable to be able to have a conversation. It’s not like you’re at a networking event, and you’re trying to talk to multiple people. You’re getting coffee or you’re taking a break for a minute and you can get to know someone on a more… I don’t know if authentic is the right word, but in a casual way.

Sarah Bohl: And you can bring somebody a question to get an outside perspective on something. I was working in Google AdWords, and somebody who has an office upstairs came down and he’s like, ‘I wrote that code.’ He used to work for Google. And that was just something unique to where I had another question, he was able to answer it while I was there.

MBA: How many other coworking spaces have joined Jefferson City since your company started?

MCM:We started in January 2019. There have not been any other coworking spaces exactly like our setup, but there have been the concept. Companies are trying to kind of do the same thing where they have industry-specific businesses under one hood, not necessarily open coworking spaces, but more so along those traditional lines of like shared office space. So I think in that sense, the concept has been more accepted in practice.

For more on coworking spaces, listen to Missouri Business Alert’s podcast Business Brief: Inside the Fed’s inflation fight

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