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'We've seen a surge back to the office' | As employees return to Uptown, less traditional offices see popularity rise

Coworking spaces are offices shared by a variety of companies, with common areas and workspaces, as well as private suites available for rent.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As more people return to work in person, demand is increasing for less-traditional office spaces.

“We have seen a surge back to the office,” said Tyler Evans, the owner of Venture X, a coworking space in Uptown Charlotte.

Coworking spaces are offices shared by a variety of companies, with common areas and workspaces, as well as private suites available for rent.

The coworking model typically provides for a smaller office footprint and allows costs savings and greater community for small and large companies alike.

There are at least a dozen coworking spaces in the Charlotte area.
Evans owns four coworking venues in North and South Carolina. In the past month, occupancy at all of the locations has swelled to greater than 80 percent, Evans said; two of the sites are at maximum capacity.

“We have far exceeded where we were pre-pandemic,” Evans said.

As more and more Charlotte-based companies shift from work-from-home to return to in-person, many are planning a hybrid return to the office.

Duke Energy, Bank of America, and other companies across the Charlotte area have adopted a variety of approaches to bringing staff back to the office after the coronavirus pandemic last year prompted a drastic shift to work-from-home models.

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Duke is bringing back many of its employees on a hybrid model where many employees will return in-person and also be allowed to continue working from home a couple of days a week, starting in September, according to a company spokesperson.

More and more studies have found that employees are seeking more flexibility with their work schedules and the number of days in the office.

As more companies are looking to attract and retain employees, coworking spaces offer a less-traditional model, Evans said.

“There’s an in-person aspect to business that seems to not be able to be replaced,” Evans said. “If they can adopt a hub-and-spoke model where they can have teams work near where they live and really boost employee satisfaction out of rethinking their real estate and rethinking their office situation, I think we’re seeing a lot of companies take advantage of that.”

Evans said coworking spaces are attractive to larger companies that have recently opened offices in Charlotte as well as smaller start-ups and individual entrepreneurs who struggled with productivity at home.

“I needed to find an office because working from home and homeschooling kids normally don’t go hand in hand,” said Chris Salerno, who runs real estate investment firm QC Capital.

Salerno said he looked at traditional office spaces across Charlotte, but ultimately settled on a coworking space because of all of the amenities.

“They’re like all-inclusive resorts,” Salerno said, referring to the free printing, mail services, coffee bars, and conference rooms included in the price.
“I’m saving about $2,000 to $3,000 every month,” he said.

Salerno, whose job gives him knowledge of the demands of the commercial real estate market, said the occupancy rates are soaring in Charlotte in recent months.

“I think in the next eight to 10 months you are going to see a lot more people return to the office,” he said.

Salero called coworking spaces the office design of the future.

“They offer flexibility,” he said. “For companies that are especially growing, they don’t want to sign five to 10-year leases and be locked in.”

Contact Tanya Mendis at tmendis@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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