In the early months of the pandemic, co-working spaces, which had been a rising force in the real estate market, faced their greatest challenge as millions of workers either opted or were forced to work from home. Fast-forward 18 months and co-working spaces are back with a vengeance. According to the New York Times, memberships for co-working spaces are in an upswing, and the co-working market is becoming increasingly competitive with more and more public office spaces opening their doors as we slowly emerge from the pandemic.
New Mexico in general and Albuquerque in particular are home to several co-working spaces that have become increasingly popular in recent years as remote work has grown more common. The Paper. interviewed Chief Operating Officer Lisa Adkins of FatPipe New Mexico, a local co-working space company, about the challenges that co-working spaces faced at the beginning of the pandemic and the recent recovery and even boom of the industry.
“COVID had a major impact on coworking. We lost 80 of our members. Our staff quickly regrouped and did some market research on how people felt about when and how to come back to the office. We implemented many safety measures, including UVC lights in our HVAC/air systems, high-end temporal scan thermometers at our doors, masks, hand sanitizer. And all of our staff became COVID-safe certified through the State of N.M.,” Adkins said.
As the pandemic continued, many remote workers grew increasingly fatigued from working at home. Many workers sought an entirely separate space from their home, whether it was a chaotic home life or cabin fever. This shared desire for a separate workspace saw the rapid resurgence of co-working spaces in 2021, especially as more and more people were vaccinated and the pandemic finally seemed to be defeated.
“We finally started to see existing and new members return to our FatPipe locations in the last six months or so. In a couple of locations, we have as many members now as we did when COVID first hit,” Adkins said. We’re seeing lots of remote workers, especially people who have been extended WFH [work from home] privileges and have hopped in their campers to travel the country, working from co-working spaces along the way! It’s fun to meet people from around the country.”
Adkins also noted that co-working spaces also serve as more than just individualized workspaces, as Fatpipe and other businesses also offer training and other opportunities for members. “We offer mentoring and business idea vetting to those who ask. We provide workshops and training for small business owners,” Adkins said.
Regarding future plans for FatPipe NM, Adkins commented that there is great potential for co-working spaces in rural areas, particularly in rural New Mexico where office space is in short supply. “Another opportunity are the rural communities we are servicing in our two newest locations—Taos and East Mountains. At FatPipe East Mountains, especially, we are working on economic development and trying to assist this rural community with space, meeting rooms and even internet.”