Chicago ad agency SRW was preparing to move into its sparkling new workspace last March when the unthinkable happened — a pandemic unlike anything we have seen in our lifetimes.
Kate Weidner, cofounder of SRW, and her partners had spent time looking for an office that features advanced smart technology and would nurture a sense of creativity.
However, when partner Charlie Stone stumbled upon an abandoned street-level former meatpacking plant, the company jumped at the opportunity.
“We didn’t realize at the time how important it would become, but so many of our friends and colleagues in skyscrapers were not going into the office,” said Weidner. “We were lucky to have a space, once restrictions were eased, that we could go straight into, with our own entrance.”
Now, ground-level offices could see a surge in cities as companies seek out spaces that are easily accessible and make distancing more feasible.
Many of these spaces once belonged to department stores or packaging facilities and have been standing empty since the start of the pandemic.
Jonathan Wasserstrum, CEO of commercial real estate firm SquareFoot, has noted the trend and is working with companies such as Instacart to find their own space.
While this means sacrificing panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline or London’s financial district, Wasserstrum says having a safer workplace and home far outweigh a pretty view.
Despite the immense challenges companies large and small have faced over the last several months, Wasserstrum believes that it will have an overall positive impact on the future of workspaces.