Co-working spaces around the world were hit badly by the pandemic, forced in many cases to shut down entirely, but Hera Hub founder Felena Hanson powered through.

The San Diego entrepreneur said her spaces, which are based in California with a location in Washington, D.C., remained open with lockbox access even during the peak of the pandemic for members with essential businesses. And she never stopped going into the office, either.

It’s not a surprise for Hanson, who learned an early lesson in resilience when she broke 27 bones in her arms, legs and face in a horrific car crash in 1996. She vowed from then on to make a difference, eventually in 2011 opening the spa-inspired Hera Hub for women as an alternative to co-working spaces then populated by “dudes in skinny jeans.” 

Hanson is always thinking about expansion, which she does through a licensing model. She still has plans to open three new spaces in Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and San Jose, California.

We asked Hanson about the changing workplace.

Responses have been edited lightly for clarity.

Tell us about staying open through the pandemic.

I’m in the business of space (coworking space) so we have been and still are 100% in-person.  Getting dressed and going out into the world saved my sanity through Covid. We have a team of eight, and there was only a short period of time that some worked from home. We are a refuge for small business owners who need to break away from the distractions of home.

What has changed the most about how you work, since the pandemic?

We had to take all our in-person programming online in a matter of one week in March 2020.  This was a big shift for us, but we’ve been running 15 to 20 hours a week of live virtual business education, mentoring and accountability — that’s when you work for yourself and have no one to report to you, so you have to create structure — for over 2 years, and our members love it. They can actively connect with other members from all six of our locations.

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Do you have a signature work outfit or accessory? 

I have definitely gone more casual over the last couple years. My ‘accessory’ would probably be my signature bun, tied up with my chopstick. I have long hair and after hours on Zoom, you just want it out of your face!

Felena Hanson has expanded Hera Hub to six locations and counting. (Courtesy of Hanson)
Felena Hanson in more pre-pandemic times, wearing heels. (Courtesy of Hanson)

Is there one thing in your closet that you don’t think you’ll ever wear again?

Stilettos.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning?

Step out the front door to run my two pups. I love running as well, so it’s good for all of us. Because I’m pressed for time in the morning, it’s usually a quick 30-minute jaunt. 

What time do you get up?

6:20am. I’m not a morning person, but I have to get that run in prior to work.

What apps do you check the most?

Gmail and LinkedIn. A big part of my role is to connect people, and LinkedIn is my online rolodex. If someone needs an attorney with SEC experience, I hop on to see who I know.

Do you have a preferred social-media platform?

Outside of LinkedIn, it’s probably Facebook…which dates me. 

What’s your Zoom background – and (bonus points!) what’s the one thing we don’t see hidden right outside of your Zoom frame?

Behind me in the office is a peacock painting and the quote, “Goals are dreams with deadlines.”  Right outside my frame is my pit bull, Meg.  Hera Hub is dog-friendly so she does come in with me from time to time.

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During the work day I can’t live without… 

Strong, black coffee.

The best thing that the pandemic has done for the workplace is…

Open people up to the option of using a coworking space. Now that things have settled down, people are looking for community. Both entrepreneurs and remote workers want to have the option of getting out into inspiring, productive space.

What’s the latest skill you’ve acquired? 

Painting. I’m not talented, but it’s fun.

What do you miss the most from the Before Times? 

International travel. I love experiencing new cultures. Pre-pandemic, it was my goal to get to two new countries every year. I’ve been to 26 and have another 40 on my list.

Does your work day have a hard stop? 

When my head hits the pillow.  

How do you de-stress?

Running, yoga, wine.

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Where did you go on your most recent vacation? 

Sadly, my last real vacation was a yoga retreat in Puerto Rico, in December 2019.

These have been trying times. What are you most hopeful about?

Being able to expand my business again. My goal is to support at least 10,000 more women in the launch or growth of their business. Thus far, we’ve supported over 13,000. Outside of exploring new physical space, I’ve created online programs (called Launch & Growth Academies).