With more people returning to office, Wilton considers offering flexible workspaces

The Wilton Economic Development Commission said that by bringing more residents who are commuters or are working a hybrid work schedule to flexible workspaces in town, it could bolster local small business growth.

The Wilton Economic Development Commission said that by bringing more residents who are commuters or are working a hybrid work schedule to flexible workspaces in town, it could bolster local small business growth.

Alexander Soule / Hearst Connecticut Media

WILTON — Town officials expect more residents will soon be heading back to their workplaces and are considering providing local alternative spaces so people can avoid commuting.

The Wilton Economic Development Commission is forecasting a need for Wilton workforce productivity, with a keen interest in stimulating small business growth in the town’s downtown sector, the EDC is pitching the idea of flexible local workspaces for commuters and small business.

“With remote working, we knew it would continue at some level, despite returns to offices,” said John DiCenzo, an EDC commissioner and the Wilton Chamber of Commerce treasurer. “Remote working has been so successful that it will continue, at least a bit. We started thinking about spaces we have in town that could be used as flexible workspaces.”

DiCenzo and fellow commissioner Marty Avallone began reaching out to local commercial landlords.

The idea, Avallone said, is to address a need in the market for residents who may typically be commuters, but will work a hybrid schedule.

The commissioners said these flexible workspaces could mimic the professional feel of a resident’s business workplace with the convenience of being able to commute to and from the location within minutes. They also said working close to home would be attractive for commuters.

“We have a lot of small businesses that operate out of home and a lot of commuters. COVID-19 has introduced that working from home whether full-time or in a hybrid setting is definitely an option,” Avallone said. “Summer is coming, which means there can be dynamic changes in the home and many people may not know that there are flexible workspace options in town already.”

One such area that Avallone and DiCenzo discussed is the Regus at 15 River Road. The commissioners also spoke to a landlord that has a smaller commercial property on Danbury Road.

“Landlords have told us that they are interested in what participants could desire as options in a post-COVID world,” DiCenzo said. “We are interested in knowing what the needs are in the marketplace, as are they.”

To gauge the interest of the community, the EDC will hold a webinar conversation with Mike Robinson, area manager of Regus (a division of IWG) and Lee Allen, local commercial landlord. It will be open to the public May 26 at 7 p.m.

While Avallone and DiCenzo said they couldn't speak for the landlords, they were confident after their conversations that Robinson and Allen would be open to the suggestions of possibly interested Wilton residents.

“It is the process of starting a dialogue,” DiCenzo said.

The pair of EDC commissioners are hoping this conversation will spark more landlords with commercial properties in town to come forward.

Avallone contended that by bringing more residents and small business owners to the downtown area, it would increase car and foot traffic and result in a possible increase in local business growth.

“It would spill over into our local economy,” Avallone said. “That would be a plus.”

The webinar will be available via Zoom.

“There is a new world awaiting us and no one knows exactly what it is going to look like,” DiCenzo said. “We felt this needed to be addressed. We will see how much appetite there is for it, but everyone is looking for answers on what the new model might be moving forward.”