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News & Press: In the Media

Coworking Spaces, Slowly Reopening, See Promise in Push for Remote Work

Monday, June 15, 2020   (0 Comments)

Monique Priestley, who runs the Space on Main coworking space in Bradford, got a lot of calls this spring from people who had recently moved to a home office and were looking for more peaceful surroundings.

“For the most part, they were able to do their jobs, but their kids were home and their spouses were home and there was increased noise,” said Priestley, who with other coworking space managers closed in March under state orders to prevent the spread of Covid-19. She reopened Space on Main on June 8 with occupancy restrictions and new safety guidelines.

“I kind of wish we had been seen as an essential business,” said Priestley, noting that in other states, coworking spaces were allowed to stay open. She added that internet access wasn’t as big a problem for people in rural areas as some had expected.

A few coworking spaces in Vermont started opening Monday, including Space on Main and the large Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies in Burlington. Do North in Lyndonville opened June 10 at 25% capacity, so only about 12 members can use the space at a time, said director Evan Carlson. He said some members aren’t ready to come back, in some cases because they don’t have child care lined up.

The Lightning Jar in Bennington hasn’t reopened yet, and there’s no date set for that to happen. Co-founder Dimitri Garder said the group continues to provide remote coaching and mentoring services.

Vermont’s coworking spaces were growing in number and just starting to get organized when the pandemic closed down business activity around the state and nation this winter. Active organizers like Priestley estimated there were about 30 of them, most of them small startups, in November. It’s not clear how many will reopen this summer as guidelines allow. Many were surviving and finding members through events and other programming, activities that will now be limited. That is likely to hurt fundraising and other support.

But they could also get a boost from what is expected to be a large move toward remote working.

Read the VTDigger article.