The kitchen. The bedroom. Even the nursery. Last spring, many working professionals turned these rooms, and many more, into makeshift workspaces. A year later, as vaccination rates rise and pandemic concerns subside, many workers are still emailing and Zooming from their kitchen tables, beds and rocking chairs. And they want a change of scenery. Perhaps more than that, they want energy, whether from the sound of voices — even if muffled by masks — or the body language of collaboration. Those desires are driving a renewed interest in coworking. The number of coworking spaces worldwide is projected to reach almost 20,000 in 2021 and hit 40,000 by 2024, according to a 2020 study by CoworkingResources.org and Coworker.com. The report estimates that 5 million people will be working from coworking spaces by 2024, which would be a 158% increase compared to 2020. FIRST-EVER COWORKING SPACE FOR SPARKS In fast-growing Northern Nevada, at least four new hubs have launched in the past year, including the first-ever coworking space in Sparks: The Ant Space.
The Ant Space, the first coworking space to open in Sparks, consists of an 11,000-square-foot space located at 1925 E. Prater Way. Photo: Kaleb M. Roedel / NNBW
“I think that a lot of businesses aren’t necessarily going back to their old offices, so they just need a more flexible space for their team and for themselves,” said Lisa Slook, who co-founded The Ant Space with Allan Zane, owner of Atlas Red Realty in Sparks. When Slook and Zane realized Sparks didn’t have a coworking space for its growing pool of entrepreneurs, the couple decided there was no better time to start one. The two had been working on The Ant Space, located at 1925 E. Prater Way, even before the pandemic triggered an explosion of remote workers. “We felt that coworking was being served very well in Reno, and we looked around and saw nobody was serving Sparks,” Zane said. “We thought, there are a ton of people here who are entrepreneurs that want to be outside-the-box thinkers. Why not give them a space where they can do that?” With that, Slook and Zane, after a thorough search, found an acre property with two buildings they could convert into coworking spaces. The first two-story building Slook and Zane opened is an 11,000-square-foot space that includes dedicated and non-dedicated desks, conference rooms, and communal lounge areas, with private offices and a video podcast booth on the way. The Ant Space offers a $25 day pass as well as monthly memberships, including rates of $75 (for students), $200 (non-dedicated desk), and $300 (dedicated desk), among others.
Allan Zane, left, and Lisa Slook, are co-owners of The Ant Space in Sparks. Photo: Kaleb M. Roedel / NNBW
“Going from your kitchen table to opening up your own office is a $3,000-a-month thing, whereas this is super affordable, and we will make you look just as professional as you would with that huge office,” Zane said. “Plus, you’re around a whole bunch of like-minded people.” The Ant Space had a soft opening last year and has seen memberships begin to roll in this spring. As of mid-April, the space had roughly 20 members. Zane said once The Ant Space’s first building has a strong membership and is running on all cylinders, they will begin plans to open their second building, is a 5,000-square-foot space. “We want to grow with our growth here,” Zane said. “I think that’s one thing that COVID taught us is to not get ahead of yourself.” FROM AN OLD CHURCH TO A NEW OPPORTUNITY In Reno, another coworking space to open during the pandemic is The Virgil. “I don’t think people like working in isolation,” Rachel Macintyre, co-founder of The Virgil, said in a phone interview with the NNBW. “There are a lot of people who have been a part of teams and worked in an office, and their whole career now is working from home and working at a coffee shop. And coffee shops are really tough if they don’t have great WiFi, and it’s tough to get a table. “I think there’s a demand because people want to get out of their house, maybe out of the cubicle, and into more inspiring spaces to come in and work.”
Interior view of The Virgil in Reno. Courtesy Photo
This, Macintyre said, is what drew her and The Virgil co-founders Jessie Phillips and Jamie Miller to the 100-year-old building at 301 Vassar St. They partnered with investor Duhs Commercial Development to purchase and remodel the building, previously home to Little Flower Church and several other venues, most recently a U.S. Bank branch. U.S. Bank sold the property to Duhs Commercial Development in late 2019 for $1.4 million, according to the Washoe County Recorder’s Office. Macintyre said the team has invested nearly $700,000 into the build-out of the 8,000-square-foot space, which features farm-style tables and chairs, bistro tables, standing desk space, communal lounge areas and patio seating. Macintyre feels people will not only be attracted to the unique, naturally lit space, but also the fact she and Phillips have been creating pop-up trainings, workshops and networking events for the past three years as owners of local coworking/incubation business Wandering Wyld. “We started developing community programming that supported freelancers and creative entrepreneurs,” she said. “So, you’re not just getting a space to work, you’re getting a space to come and learn. And you’re getting a space to come and connect with a community of people, many of whom have been working together now for the last three years in some capacity.” The Virgil offers monthly ($85) and annual memberships ($850) as well as a monthly membership for a keyed mailbox ($35) and a day pass ($15). Officially opening in April, The Virgil is aiming to bring in 150 members by December, Macintyre said. COWORKING CATCHES ON IN CARSON CITY Meanwhile, in Carson City, a new 6,200-square-foot coworking space also officially opened its doors in April.
A look inside Diverse Business Connections, a new coworking space in Carson City. Courtesy photo
Located at 800 E. College Parkway, Diverse Business Connections offers coworking spaces ($200/month), executive offices ($500/month) and virtual offices ($150/month) as well as access to meeting rooms, classrooms and events spaces, with a recording studio planned for this summer. The coworking hub is also offering free day passes. Kyle Onstott, a sales and marketing consultant and owner of Diverse Business Connections, said he was motivated to create the space because of the rapid growth of startups in the region. He said the building will host weekly networking groups, bi-weekly lunch and learns, and monthly business mixers. “Just in the last year alone, we’re seeing a huge demand in individuals wanting to start their own companies,” said Onstott, a Dayton native who lives in Southern California. “Whether they were laid off and never brought back or left their current job because they’re in a position now where they’re taking that leap of faith and starting that company they’ve always wanted to start. “Now, more than ever, there’s a huge demand for what we’re providing.” By the end of 2021, Onstott said he hopes the space’s 16 offices are fully occupied and the coworking spaces are at least 50% occupied. “We hope to be at 70 total members by the end of the year,” he added. “Our vision and our model is for this to be the networking hub of Northern Nevada.” TAHOE, TOO A new coworking space has also surfaced on Tahoe’s East Shore: Untethered, tucked in the Round Hill shopping center along Highway 50 in Zephyr Cove. According to its website, the hub will open this year with coworking spaces and private and virtual offices. Rates include a $30 day pass, resident memberships with a dedicated desk for $350 a month, and private offices starting at $500 a month.