The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has affected nearly every industry. How is this new reality affecting coworking spaces? We reached out to coworking experts and spaces from around the world to see how they’re responding — and how they’re moving forward.
Angel Kwiatkowski, Owner, Cohere Coworking
Fort Collins, CO, USA
We are not taking new members, are closed to the public and we have sanitizing procedures in place. We have also ramped up virtual coworking sessions and check-ins.
Lavinia Iosub, Managing Partner, Livit & Project Getaway
Being an impact-focused organization, we always want to be part of the solution. At this moment, it feels like most of the world goes into either mad panic or denial. What we feel we need more of is staying calm and taking the right decisions for our communities, even when they might not be easy to digest financially or logistically. Over the last weeks, we’ve taken a lot of preventative measures such as thorough disinfection during the weekend, enhanced cleansing protocols & hygiene measures in our kitchen (e.g. the way cutlery is handled), and consistently informing our community on the latest recommendations from WHO. Despite all these, we recently concluded that this was not enough to combat the spread of the virus. While closely observing the containment efforts of other countries, what really works, and what science says, it became obvious that the most powerful method of containing the virus and keeping it from overwhelming our communities is social distancing.
As a coworking venue, event host and gathering facilitator, the result of that deep consideration seemed to be an obvious one: temporarily closing. We have done that, and reduced our operations to a minimum. The virus effect on young bodies has been mostly dismissed as cold or flu-like, but the elderly and immunocompromised are at extreme, fatal risk. We are a mixed, diverse space with a majority of local members, who go back every day to their families. Temporarily halting our activities seemed to be the most sensible solution for protecting the health of our community and our loved ones.
We are currently working to strengthen our already existing online community and facilitate access to more events and hangouts in the online space. Physical distancing doesn’t mean our bonds need to weaken, and coworking members are among the people most equipped to work remotely and keep great, vibrant relationships with the help of technology. I have a lot of faith in our team and our community, and I am sure that together, responsibly, we will weather the storm, and come out stronger on the other side. We will gather again in person soon, and when we do, it’ll be beautiful.
Teresa Mayo, The Amp
The Amp is a coworking space for social purpose organizations. We want to be able to provide affordable space for people to connect and collaborate, Downtown Vancouver. We have officially closed our doors as a way to fight the spread of COVID-19. It was a necessary step, towards public safety, but at this point in time, we are unsure of how it will financially impact our space; and frankly, it could be devastating. But, we will plan for the worst and hope for the best.
Rafael Valek, Commercial Manager, Sinergia
At Sinergia we work to bring people together, we work to create community. COVID-19 is forcing us to undo what we usually do, we feel as if we are sabotaging everything we worked so hard to build during all these years — this virus is the opposite of coworking, we work to unite people, to promote that things, experiences and moments are shared… and now we must do exactly the opposite. But we know this is the right thing to do because the sooner we react and the faster we are, the sooner we can go back to normal life.
We have had to anticipate everything that is happening, informing ourselves of what was happening in other areas of the planet where the virus is most widespread and learn about the measures they are taking ase well as the reaction of people to this situation. Our responsibility was and is to inform ourselves in the most exhaustive possible way and transmit this information to our members with precision but in our usual tone: with optimism and good energy.
At the level of sanitary measures, we cannot comment on anything that has not been published a thousand times by the health authorities at this point. At the operational level we have two priorities: our clients and our team. With the largest clients who are concerned about their teams in the country we are in constant contact with their HQs to inform them about the situation. With smaller teams or freelancers I call them (I have been working from home for three days now) to make them aware that they must take precautions for themselves and their loved ones. Sometimes I make these calls more as a friend than as a Sinergia commercial manager, but in the end it is about people staying home so that this ends soon.
We are concerned about the challenge we will have afterwards because perhaps we will have to convince some people again about the value of sharing and being together. On the other hand, the truth is that if I have to find a positive side to this, it is that now my children understand what I do in my day-to-day work.
How are you and your community reacting to the coronavirus pandemic? What precautions are you taking, and how do you see this impacting the coworking industry? We’d love to hear your story! Just reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add your response into our next article.