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With New Orleans mostly dark, a coworking office lights up

Coworking offices may help remote workers deal with prolonged power outages. They are often located in business districts, which may get power restored before residential areas.

Coworking offices may appeal to remote workers who don't want to work at home full time and live too far from their corporate offices. But there's another reason coworking spaces may be helpful, as New Orleans illustrates.

Power returned Wednesday to part of the city's central business district and French Quarter, four days after Hurricane Ida ravaged the region. Among the properties benefiting from the restored power is the Connect Hub Coworking office, located on the ninth floor of a downtown office tower at 400 Poydras St.

At 6 a.m. Thursday, Connect Hub's coworking offices were back in operation, said Christina Donahoe, senior property manager for both the building and coworking space. The building has generator power, enough for emergency systems and lighting, allowing the staff to get the building ready for reopening.

"This region is so resilient," Donahoe said. "We've been through so many other disasters, and we simply just know how to pivot and get things done."

The vast majority of those working from home in the New Orleans metro area are still without power, and it may take weeks to restore it fully. The Poydras Street complex, on the other hand, may be the first office building to reopen in the city's downtown, Donahoe said. The property and coworking space is part of the Hertz Investment Group, a private equity commercial real estate firm.

While coworking offices like Connect Hub provide businesses with a blended work-home option, precisely the role they'll play in the remote work era remains unclear.

Disaster recovery for remote workers

Owners of these facilities claim that they can provide a professional environment and an alternative for people who don't have access to corporate offices but don't want to work solely from home. Some corporate users are utilizing coworking offices as hubs in areas with many remote workers.

But coworking spaces may be able to provide a disaster recovery benefit as well.

Coworking offices "allow people to continue working during disasters like this," Donahoe said. Some of the office's regular users are remote workers, she said.

Connect Hub offers a monthly fee of $250 for use of the facility and $30 for a day pass. It also has options for dedicated offices and desks.

A selling point for remote workers is that coworking offices "get away from distractions," said Todd Nelson, owner of Venture X private office space and coworking facility in Dallas's Braniff Center, a new facility that opened in July. Nelson said he believes coworking offices help productivity. 

"I had one guy call me and ask if he could come over right now because he couldn't take it anymore," Nelson said. "I could hear a kid crying in the background." 

The Venture X office, part of a franchise, has two internet service providers to ensure network connectivity. It doesn't have auxiliary power, but the coworking offices are next to Dallas Love Field Airport. Nelson said he's hopeful the location may speed power recovery in an outage.

Patrick Thibodeau covers HCM and ERP technologies for TechTarget. He's worked for more than two decades as an enterprise IT reporter.

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