These work-from-home Detroiters are productive —...

These work-from-home Detroiters are productive — but they still miss office life

"I think there's going to be a lot of anxiety and a slow return," says Amanda Lewan, cofounder of coworking space Bamboo Detroit.

working from home

Just as we’re all getting comfortable with the jargon, and the practice, of WFH: Detroit’s offices and coworking spaces are thinking about the day when we might once again WFW. That was the drive behind a survey sent to members and followers of downtown coworking space Bamboo Detroit. 

“We wanted to get a pulse on how working from home is working for people,” Amanda Lewan, cofounder of Bamboo, told Detour Detroit. “How are people feeling about returning to the office? I think there’s going to be a lot of anxiety and a slow return.”

What they found:

  • The 147 survey respondents live in Detroit or the suburbs. 
  • 29% said they work as “individuals/sole proprietors” and 42% work in teams of fewer than 10.
  • Nearly a third of respondents said they felt equally as productive at home as they did at work, 42% said they felt more productive, and 26% felt less productive.
  • Collaborating is a challenge — 60% say it’s much harder to work as a team and 70% say it’s harder to build new business relationships.
  • 65% say they miss going to an office.
  • 40% of respondents said they had worked from home regularly prior to the pandemic.
  • Only 19% said they would not work from home once the stay-at-home order is lifted; 29% said they would and 52% weren’t sure.

The biggest pain points of WFH? Distractions, focus, proper workspace setup and loneliness.

“There were lots of comments that said, ‘I’ll work part from home, part from office,’ or, ‘I’m not sure what I’ll be allowed to do yet with my employer,'” said Lewan. “There’s going to be a big chunk of people that just want flexibility, like they may want to go in just once or twice a week. That’s where coworking can help.”

Industry publication Allwork.Space predicts coworking spaces like Bamboo may be poised to thrive in the post-pandemic working world as companies seek to decentralize workforces and reduce overhead, but they’ll have to adapt to a world where sanitation and social distancing are required. Coworking juggernaut WeWork is modeling what some of these changes will look like â€” think sanitation stations, one-way traffic flow and buffered seating.

Bamboo Detroit workspace | Credit: Bamboo Detroit Facebook

Lewan said Bamboo is at work on a range of protective measures, including reconfiguring workspaces, creating a “touchless experience” in bathrooms, restricting kitchen access, supplying hand sanitizer and implementing a robust cleaning and reporting method. She tentatively plans a June 1 reopening, and in the past week has received several applications for Bamboo’s new Royal Oak location. 

“We’re being as flexible as we can with our members, and working towards a safe reopening,” she said.

Find more COVID-19 updates that affect Detroit here.

Nina Misuraca Ignaczak is a contributing editor for Detour Detroit. She is the founder and executive editor of Planet Detroit, a digital media startup that tells Detroit’s environmental stories while building a community of engaged readers who are informed and empowered to act personally and publicly. She is an award-winning freelance journalist who writes, edits and produces stories about the environment, place and identity. Her recent work has been published by Detour Detroit, Belt Magazine, HuffPost, Detroit Free Press, WDET, Crains Detroit Business, Business Insider, Curbed Detroit and Model D. Prior to her career in journalism, she worked in urban planning in the local government and nonprofit sectors. She has a Master of Science in Natural Resource Ecology and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Twitter: @ninaignaczak