COLUMBIA — Coworking spaces have been opening in the Midlands as a replacement for traditional offices, but the coronavirus pandemic has put the brakes on their growth.
The number of coworking sites, where people can rent a desk or suite for work, has risen from two to a half-dozen across the Midlands in three years. At least two locally owned ones opened in spring 2020 into the teeth of lockdown and business slowdowns.
The months of the pandemic have hurt coworking sites much like other brick-and-mortar businesses, according to Greg Hilton, one of the founders of SoCo, the first coworking project in Columbia that offers two locations.
“It was a really rough roller coaster for us there,” Hilton said.
Fewer folks coming in also means a loss of the community spirit that SoCo seeks, with entrepreneurs helping each other.
To cope with reduced traffic during the pandemic. SoCo’s staff has been focused on services to help the solo entrepreneurs and small companies that are its niche audience, knowing that growing the membership would be a challenge amid the pandemic’s uncertainty, Hilton said.