One might imagine that shared office space companies such as Westchester Business Center would have been a casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic. After all, with so many people working from home instead of coming into an office and so many people being apprehensive over health safety, the shared office space concept might seem suddenly outdated.
Well, that’s not the case. The White Plains-based Westchester Business Center not only made it through the pandemic in fine health, but it is also opening its second location this summer in Chappaqua.
In this edition of Suite Talk, Business Journal Senior Enterprise Editor Phil Hall speaks with Kristine Saljanin, general manager at Westchester Business Center, on the company’s journey through the pandemic.
What has it been like to run a business like yours over the past year when so many people have been sheltering at home and taking care of their work from makeshift offices within their residences?
“Our current members did come in and utilize the space. And we found that those who were commuting into the city wanted a place to kind of hang their hat because, obviously, New York City had shut down.
“We were seeing people scared of going to spaces, so we made sure that we had cleaning done here. We disinfected our spaces daily — two times a day — and we were able to provide them with a secure place as well as a place to conduct a business or get away from the children when they’re at home doing their Zoom class sessions.
“Some of our members have apartments in White Plains and you find that when you’re in an apartment you hear the dog barking, the wife saying she is on her Zoom call, the children are on their class calls — this is a great escape for them.”
Who are the customers using your facility?
“We have attorneys, CPAs, financial advisers. We have a few therapists. We have a Smile Direct Club. We have a few solar companies. And then we just have individual entrepreneurs that are doing their own thing.”
Your website says that you are partnered with a group called Alliance Business Centers. What does this partnership entail?
“Allied Business Centers is a national company and they work worldwide. We’ve partnered up with them where it allows us to be able to give our members the ability to use conference rooms and day offices in another location outside of our space here.
“For example, when New York City opens up and I have a client who has a person they want to meet with in New York City, we would set up a room. There’s a couple of hours a month, depending on the location, that are allocated to our members.”
Is your facility 24/7?
“We are 24/7. Staff is here 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. During the bad days of the pandemic, we were not considered essential — but, to some extent, we are essential and we were able to answer phones from home, so there was not one day that we skipped a beat.”
Where do see your company when the pandemic starts to wind down? Do you see companies forsaking permanent office space and making use of a group like yours and having the temporary or day offices?
“I think companies will recognize the attractiveness in being able to have a shorter-term lease, the ability to be closer to home and have the ability to work in an industry or an environment that provides technology services and professionalism at your fingertips without having to commute an hour-and-a-half to get into the city for something that you can do within 15 or 20 minutes of your home.”