How are Coworking Spaces Dealing With Coronavirus?
The pandemic has been tough on everyone. Companies are shuttering their offices and sending people to work at home. Other businesses are closing completely. The entertainment options in the United States have just about dried up, and here in Central Florida, most professional entertainers we know are just sitting at home, waiting for something — anything — to give them a chance to perform.
In the coworking world, it’s about the same. When the shutdown happened, people started working from home, figuring out a way to keep their kids quiet and their pets from demanding their attention, or investing in a pair of noise-canceling headphones and working early in the morning or late at night.
But once businesses opened back up, coworking spaces like ours did as well.
So how are coworking spaces dealing with the coronavirus? How can we prove to our communities that our spaces are still safe places to work? How can we keep our current tenants safe and unaffected by the virus?
Here are a few ways coworking spaces are finding new audiences and keeping those tenants productive and safe.
Cleaning and sanitation are a top priority
Of course, every coworking space is making sure their tables and other surfaces are cleaned and disinfected. Some are wiping them down on a daily basis or after every use, others are using longer-acting solutions.
At Neoware, we’re working with a local cleaning company that uses a product and process called Bio-Assured. Cleaners come in and spray down all the tables with an anti-microbial spray that lasts for 30 days between applications.
A lot of community food and beverage options are often curtailed, meaning snacks are prepackaged, and the healthy bowl of apples or box of donuts are nowhere to be seen. And only single use paper cups are available for coffee, and the coffee is made with single-serve cups, not a giant coffee maker.
Personal sanitation and safety is reinforced
Most coworking spaces are also requiring face masks and frequent hand washing, and the often have hand sanitizer in bottles or dispensers around the space. People are required to keep themselves safe, because it helps keep others safe, so that means gatherings around a desk are also limited, and desks are properly distanced.
There are also strict mask requirements, at least when entering or moving around the space. And because these are privately-owned/controlled spaces, the management is free to require masks and other sanitation steps to help ensure everyone is safe and comfortable. People who refuse to wear a mask at all are not allowed to enter in the first place.
Find new audiences
Some coworking spaces in Florida, New York, and Colorado are opening up to students to provide a place for them on their own or in very small groups. Students are working in small clusters that let them work on projects together, but even those are limited in size, and they have to wear masks.
In other spaces, the drop-in/hot desk traffic has dropped way down, but spaces with private offices are still seeing interest from tenants. Private offices are an ideal way to keep yourself safe and away from the general population. Coworking spaces that do have hot desks are spacing them out so people are several feet away from each other.
Some spaces are even teaming up and letting their tenants share spaces. In Birmingham, Alabama, they’ve created the Birmingham Coworking Collective passport, where people can try out seven different spaces in the city as part of a 14-day trial. Still others are joining forces and giving members cross-privileges to promote coworking as a concept to their city.
Find new ways to work
While coworking often means working around other people in a “third space” (i.e. not home, not work), it’s also possible to have a virtual/digital coworking memberships or even part-time memberships.
A virtual membership basically means you have a a business address, phone number, mail services, and an occasional place to meet with clients and colleagues. You can even pop in once in a while and work at a desk once in a while. Other virtual memberships may include participation in the space’s Slack channel, regular Zoom webinars, and online educational events.
Coworking is still possible during the pandemic, you just have to be extra cautious. The spaces themselves need to take extra steps to keep members safe, and the members need to take their own precautions. But by working together, coworking can still be a safe and viable space for remote workers to spend their days.
To learn more about coworking and how it can work for remote workers, entrepreneurs, and startups, please visit our website at NeowareStudios.com.
Photo credit: Erik Deckers (Pro Blog Service, used with permission)