Coworking space

How coworking spaces are navigating through the coronavirus crisis


by Charlie Cutler, October 27, 2020

More than 6 months into the pandemics, we still can’t tell for sure how severe and long will the restrictions last. Coworking spaces have been hit hard with the pandemic and are experiencing issues many other companies across the globe are too.

The current situation has made worldwide changes in the way people are working and living, and the effects are here to stay. The response to the coronavirus crisis is temporarily affecting competition conditions, alongside overall market conditions and is greatly damaging coworking spaces. 

For the coworking industry in general, the global pandemic has proven to be a menacing opponent, to typical operations, resulting in many spaces closing their doors to members. To weather this storm, coworking spaces are under pressure to reanalyze their operations and think of new business models, safety protocols, sanitary practices and flexible solutions to their members.

Generally speaking, space utilization has run into a dramatic decrease as people have been, and still are, encouraged to work from home. At FOCUS we deeply care about our members and the space in our community, and we want to offer support during these times of uncertainty.

Consequences of COVID-19 for coworking

Let’s start from the most obvious consequence of the pandemic which is the fact that a significant number of employees are working from home. For coworking spaces across the world the consequences are radical and have altered the way that spaces do their business. 

Some of the most common consequences among coworking spaces are:

  • Event cancellations
  • Conference/meeting rooms cancellations
  • Membership cancellations
  • Space closure

Women working while wearing masks

Adoption of alternative business models

While the consequences are highly disruptive and threatening to coworking operators, spaces sure are finding new creative ways to deal with the effects of the pandemic in a positive way. By re-evaluating their services and thinking of new solutions, man spaces have already adopted altered business models in an effort to stop the spreading of the coronavirus and supporting the community’s needs.

Here are some of the most used business model alterations:

  • Adjusted cancellation policies, with more relaxed cancellation periods
  • Lower prices for new members 
  • Discounts to current members
  • Virtual plans and virtual mail services
  • Transferring the unused days to future months

These examples of new business models show the ability of the coworking industry to adapt, which by their nature already is dedicated to providing flexible solutions. Even though many spaces remain closed, coworking operators remain positive and hope that the pandemic will also bring opportunities. 

What can coworking spaces do?

Considering the fact that the number of infected is still in the thousands, no space can be considered completely free from contamination. If your space is open, there are certain actions you need to take in order to ensure safety of members and employees.

Here are some of the most common measures many coworking spaces have put in place:

  • Frequent sanitation of highly used touchpoint; 
  • Making hand sanitizer accessible to everyone, throughout the space;
  • Limiting space access;
  • Informing members with new safety measurements and sending out tips for prevention;
  • Signage throughout the space;

Measures like limiting the number of people in the kitchens, and ending communal meals are also practiced commonly. Some places have even gone as far as rearranging the space and moving furniture to ensure a safe distance.

As many people look to their governments and employers for advice and guidance during this challenging time, being prepared and having a plan that covers alternative / flexible coworking solutions may be the best possible way to proactively address the uncertainty. It’s safe to say that coronavirus has caused a major work-from-home movement, and it will certainly be interesting to see how the story unfolds in the coming months and how coworking spaces will respond.

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