The emergence of remote work during the pandemic has become one of its biggest revelations. But From The Future founder and Chief Strategy Officer and serial entrepreneur Nick Eubanks used this time to make the unlikely decision to open a coworking space.
That decision traces back to his work in the mid-2010s: When he was VP of the Traffic Safety Store, a West Chester manufacturer and retailer, Eubanks couldn’t find tech talent who were willing to commute to their suburban office. So he and his team changed strategy and co-worked at Old City’s Indy Hall instead.
Though being around people like Indy Hall founder Alex Hillman, he was inspired to open his own workspace.
“It was not something I really ever expected,” Eubanks told Technical.ly. “It was only after working out of Indy Hall beforehand and rubbing shoulders with other technical people and resources that we tried and failed [to acquire] in West Chester.”
Because of construction delays, his digital agency’s new office has taken two years to open. It was initially built for 80 people, but with the pandemic still going on, Eubanks asked team members if they preferred in-person or remote work; almost half them preferred remote work.
With unexpected empty space to fill because many of his employees decided to continue working from home, Eubanks created Leverage Coworking, a micro-coworking brand of 12 desks for other agencies to use within From the Future’s Northern Liberties office at 709 N. Second St.
“The whole idea is that there’s an agency environment already with designers, marketers and writers, anyone who works in those verticals wanting to take advantage of our resources,” he said. “It’s way more valuable.”
While employees have yet not been welcomed back, Eubanks said having a fully vaccinated staff could lead to an opening in July.
The pandemic affected From The Future’s business in a big way, according to the founder. The agency’s three biggest clients were in travel, logistics and real estate — three industries that all were hit hard by COVID-19.
“Roughly 30% of the agency’s revenue disappeared in a matter of weeks,” he said. “It took a lot of creativity and grit to see that through. We were fortunate to not have to lay anyone off. [The Paycheck Protection Program] was a big part of that. It was fundamental in maintaining our team. We’re back in growth mode again [and] came out of 2020 breaking even.”
And while Eubanks prefers in-office work himself, understanding how people best work in general has become an ongoing goal of his during the pandemic. One of his other companies is launching WFHgenius.com, a website that will feature interviews with folks who have adapted to working from home as well as raise funds for Black Girls Code.
“It’s been a mental health devastation through the pandemic,” he said. “A lot of people who moved to working from home have had to introduce mindfulness and meditation. I never prioritized something as simple as meditation. When my guest bedroom because my office for a year and a half, it required a lot of focus before I could function with my partner next to me. My partner is also an entrepreneur. It feels like I’m home and I’m accessible and learning how to set those boundaries was a really interesting challenge that has forced me as an entrepreneur across 15 operating businesses.”
Michael Butler is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.-30-