Coworking First Steps: Pandemic Growth Plan
The world is currently in the midst of a crisis with no clear end and no surefire rulebook for success. But crisis heralds opportunity — and though no one was “prepared” for a pandemic, coworking spaces might have been secretly building a business designed for a post-covid world all along.
Most estimates from industry consultants and real estate companies project stable — or even improved — growth in coworking vs. pre-pandemic levels. How can you seize the day and lay the foundation for a productive, community-centric, and safety-focused workspace? We’ve got you covered.
This is a part of our Coworking First Steps series, a collection of resources designed to help new coworking spaces find their footing.
Start with the layout
Lines on the floor have become a familiar sight in offices, restaurants, public buildings, and even on the sidewalk. You have an advantage if you’re just opening a space, because you get to design your entire space around the needs of the moment.
One-way traffic paths
Don’t have a central corridor, instead develop a snaking path with multiple loops so people can easily reach the key points of your space (like the bathrooms, printer, and front desk) without bumping into others.
Safe radii markers
Make it easier for your members to passively maintain distance from one another. Add them around desks, doors, whatever kitchen equipment you‘re offering, and anywhere where people might be tempted to congregate.
Make the most of new tech
Plexiglass and hand sanitizer are low-tech ways of correcting problematic design. But you can start with solutions that don’t need post-hoc corrections. Incorporate contactless check-in, dividers, and other passive preventative measures.
Entrepeneurs often talk about unfair advantages. Yours can be that you’re fundamentally prepared for the moment we’re living in.
Craft the right policy
Some of your potential clients are going to be nervous. They are going to ask how you have prepared for all outcomes — you need to be so prepared that they will leave your conversation absolutely confident that you not only know more than they do but that you will be constantly working in the background to keep your space up-to-date. Certainty is impossible, but competency is reassuring in every situation.
Basics: What you’re doing every day
These are the actions that you’ll see in every government handbook on COVID-19 preparedness. Hand washing, sanitizing, air quality, and distancing rules.
Intermediate: What you’re preparing for
How will you deal with a potential positive case? What happens if local restrictions tighten? You need to answer the difficult questions quickly and effectively.
Advanced: How you’ll handle the unexpected
You can’t know everything. But you need to talk about your decision-making process. Presumably, you have a team that you trust, talk about how you plan on culsulting them, their background, how you’ve responded to crises in the past, and lay out your philosophy for making tough decisions.
Sell the moment
A year ago, a good community, good facilities, and good management might be enough to sustain growth. Not today. Individuals and organizations are going to need coworking spaces and you’re going to need to tell them why. In this moment, what does everyone need?
- Technical expertise and guidance
- Friendly faces and community
Who’s in a better spot to meet these needs than you are?
Coworking provides flexible working conditions. Need to expand your team, reduce your team, work odd hours or close to home? Coworking spaces have been doing that for years. Technical expertise and guidance? By now, most of the workforce has figured out video calls. But that’s not where asynchronous collaboration ends. The digitization of the economy has always been led by creative and adaptive workspaces. And the issue that plagues even the most ardent work from home fans is the lack of personal interaction.
Want some inspiration?
This is a lot of info to absorb and not all of it may be relevant for you when you’re opening a coworking space. That’s ok! We’ve compiled a few stories of spaces that have created their own path to opening a space safely for both members and staff.t
Spacemade opened at the end of 2019. It sounds like a tough time to begin a coworking journey, but it’s been a huge advantage.
Ethel’s Club was founded to better serve communities of color when COVID-19 hit. Their mission hasn’t changed but they have adapted their services to meet the moment.
Even in the middle of a COVID-19 hotspot, The Back Office Studio is inventing creative ways to keep their members safe.
Time to shine!
For a long time, the question has been how will coworking respond to economic uncertainty. The moment has arrived and now it’s your turn to answer the question! We’re looking forward to seeing what you come up with.
Check out our full collection of resources for starting ro growing a coworking business. You can also read our blog and follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for more tips and news around coworking space management and space management software. Have any additional questions or feedback? Suggest new topics at firstname.lastname@example.org.