It’s out with the old and in with the new at 40 Richards Ave. in Norwalk, where one coworking business has ceded its space to another that, its owner says, is better equipped to face the challenges of Covid-19.
“This used to be a Regus office,” Jeff Supinsky, partner at commercial real estate developer Valley East Building Management, told the Business Journal. Valley East bought the 147,000-square-foot building for about $15 million in 2019 and, when Regus’ lease was up, “I chose not to renew it,” he said. The reason? “The Regus model was flawed,” Supinsky said. “They charged for everything – someone answering the phone was extra, a paper clip was extra. Nothing would piss me off more than having to figure out what my rent expenses would be every month – it’d be shocking to see how you spent more on paper-copying and coffee than you did for the actual space itself.”
Thus was born Norworx, a newly renovated coworking space on the third floor of the building. Supinsky said the business deviates from its competitors by offering private closed-door offices, conference rooms and all-inclusive modern amenities, along with natural sunlight from floor-to-ceiling windows. Blue and gray tones, which Supinsky said research shows are more conducive to being productive, are featured throughout. Along with covered parking and a fitness facility, Norworx observes strict daily sanitization practices, which includes an air filtration system that he said improves indoor air quality by trapping and blocking 98% of airborne particles. Norworx also offers 75-inch smart monitors in its conference rooms, which can seat up to 12, and a climate control system that never deviates from 71 degrees. There are 56 private offices, with work spaces varying from 10-foot by 10-foot to 12-foot by 18-foot. “This,” he declared, “is not your father’s office space.” Even so, isn’t this an odd time to start a business predicated, at least in part, on people who don’t know each other working in relatively close proximity? Apparently not, according to research cited by Norworx. While the coworking industry grew at a slower pace in 2020 due in large part to the pandemic, the 2020 Global Coworking Growth Study, authored by CoworkingResources and Coworker.com, predicts that the number of coworking spaces worldwide will more than double by 2024 and surpass 40,000. According to the report, a yearly growth rate of 21.3% will be realized in the U.S. from 2021 to 2024. In addition, around 5 million people will work from coworking spaces by 2024, an increase of 158% compared with 2020. “Everyone says they’re okay working from home,” Supinsky said, “but production and efficiency can be hampered when your wife is asking you something or you’ve got a contractor in your house or next door. They’re ‘working,’ but not really working, and there’s not much in the way of networking going on when you’re working from home.” Supinsky is also betting that, as the economy recovers, small businesses that have benefited from being located in Norworx will turn to Valley East when it comes time to shop for larger space. “I see this as a business incubator for myself,” he said. Since opening on Nov. 1, Norworx has already booked 10 tenants, he said, mostly from word-of-mouth. Based on Long Island, Valley East is also building another coworking space in Hauppauge, which will be similar in design and concept – and name. “It’s going to be called Norworx as well,” Supinsky said. “‘Hauppauge-worx’ just didn’t sound right.”