These last couple of months resemble, quite frankly, something out of a horror movie.
Or, at least, a thriller.
The whole world ground to a halt, and what we thought would last for only a couple of months will, apparently, continue well into the next year. Covid-19 has affected so many aspects of our lives, we will soon forget what we looked like without our masks on.
But, as always, life will have to continue, people will have to continue working normally, the economy has to survive.
This is why many things have had to undergo a change, especially places of work. The traditional office space had to be reinvented, so it could conform to the norm. It needed to include the safest possible solutions, so that people could continue working.
Many companies have shut their offices and shifted their work online, but now is the time to find another solution. The thing that has gained popularity, especially since the start of the pandemic, are coworking spaces.
Advantages of Coworking in the Covid-19 Era
A coworking space is, basically, an independent space where people come to work, not associated with any company.
What is specific about it is that many people from different companies can come and work there. It usually gathers people sharing different ideas, but working independently. Many freelancers opt for this type of working environment, usually because of the excellent conditions that these places offer.
What differentiates the coworking space from a traditional office space is the fact that it offers a lot more flexibility when it comes to working conditions. Namely, even though it usually offers the same things you are able to find in an office – for example, printers, excellent internet connection (better equipped ones offer 3D printers, gym and other utilities even), coffee machines and snacks, it gives the companies and independent entrepreneurs an option to choose what type of lease they want, so they can always arrange what suits them best, as opposed to the fixed lease of big office spaces that don’t offer the same amount of flexibility.
The best attribute of the communal working spaces is that they are designed to be a lot more comfortable than traditional office spaces. Many freelancers prefer shared work spaces because they can sometimes find a lot more inspiration for their work there. They can share their ideas with somebody else, and, actually, get some different points of view and different perspectives from the people who also work there.
As we have already pointed out, everything had to change due to the pandemic, and shared office space is not an exception.
But this begs the question – what should designers of the next generation coworking offices have in mind?
Flexible workspace has proven to be the top priority of many businesses, big and small. Due to social distancing, the closeness of present offices, including coworking offices, will have to significantly decrease.
Every collaborative working space usually paid attention to exploiting space to the fullest before. However, in the Cov-19 era, this simply is not sustainable, since every working person needs to have their safe “square feet” in order to avoid getting infected.
While this sounds like something out of an astronaut manual, we assure you, it is definitely not.
The need for frequent disinfection has been on a dramatic increase, and that is why major coworking companies will have to have this in mind.
Organizing frequent cleanings of all the surfaces, and thus providing much needed safety, will not be a cheap endeavor, but it will be a must. Every imaginable surface from desks to phone booths will need to be cleaned more often.
Every major coworking company will have to include virtual offices in their offer, because many people still don’t feel safe getting out of homes and going to work.
Therefore, the need for people working from home to be included through a virtual office will probably increase in the coming months.
Many offices have realized they need a business address without actually having to lease office or to have spaces rent. That is why offering virtual offices to a company could present a perfect solution. They can get a flexible workspace, where they can find all the essential necessities of an office, without having to bear the additional financial burden of actually being in actual co work spaces. It usually provides the user with services like meeting room time, business address and mail management.
No, we’re not talking about the environment. Well, not now, anyway.
A lot of effort will have to be put in minimizing the possibility of transmission of Covid-19 in the workplace.
And, many experts have recommended a good HVAC system for the safest possible work environment. Therefore, co work spaces will have to invest a significant amount of resources in order to improve the air conditioning systems, and put them to good use.
Coworking Space Solutions
As it has been mentioned, many costs will arise in the field of managing coworking spaces.
However, some sacrifices will have to be made if companies truly want to survive not just the pandemic, but its consequences, as well. Luckily, there are many options to choose from, so no company will be left stranded.
So, what can be done to solve this pickle that we’ve found ourselves in?
First and foremost, it is important to cast aside all the traditional ways of managing office space, since that will not do in times like these. And that means that we shouldn’t think about how to adjust existing space, but how to transform it completely.
It is essential to think deeply about where space is actually needed and to make it as usable as possible, but still be able to conform to the health standards that will have to be applied.
The Suburbs and Their Mermaid Song
Moving the office space from a big city is, for starters, a good way to deal with the current situation, due to the density of population in big cities.
Many predict that many company headquarters will move to suburb campuses, where there is more space to count on, which is, also, cheaper.
However, many will stay in the city, because the driving force of every business is there, as is the possibility to catch young talents. Being in the city center also creates a more powerful sense of togetherness, which is not the case in some displaced office.
Be that as it may, every company will have to choose what suits them best, and decide whether distancing themselves from the city will be the best solution for them.
Space/Staff Management During Covid-19
The most challenging task many coworking companies will have to deal with is how to manage office space – what to include, what to exclude, how to prioritize etc.
Here are some points to consider when looking into space management of a coworking office.
- A range of options – Firstly, every co shared office space will need to be versatile – offering everything from private offices, conference rooms, hot desks, to open shared spaces with specific seating. Sharing office supplies and amenities will present a challenge, since they will have to be disinfected very often.
- Staff management – The hardest challenge will be to manage all the people being in the same room and having to conform to the norm and all the safety measures. In order to apply social distancing measures, many coworking companies will have to construct one-way hallways, clear maps of passage, and appropriate signage throughout the space. This way, people will constantly be reminded that they need to take care of not only their health, but the health of others, by abiding by the safety regulations.
- Management of inventory – Desks, of course, will have to be positioned with more distance between them, which means there are going to be fewer of them. No more pushing your work table next to your work wife/husband! Every section will have to be apart from the other in order to avoid contracting the virus. The idea of hot desks has never been so popular.
- Hot desks – Hot desking as an idea originated a long time ago and was applied by companies whose workers didn’t have the need to spend their whole day in the office. Multiple workers use a single physical work station during different time periods. It has often been seen in companies with flexible schedules for employees, where not all of them have to come to the office to work, and, those ones that do use the premises only occasionally and for a limited amount of time, after which the offices are again vacant. The main idea behind it is that, if an employee knows that they have a limited time at a desk with, for example, a computer on it, they will use their time more efficiently, and do their job faster. This type of space management can save the company up to 30% in total revenue. As we can see, hot desks have gained a new appreciation, since many coworking spaces will have to deal with an increased number of people coming to the same space, while also having to cut back on available desks.
The Rise of Virtual Offices
The benefits of virtual offices in these precarious times are innumerable. That is why there has been an increase in demand for them.
In Covid-19 times, the majority of work is being done from home, so it is sometimes difficult to retain a positive brand image of your company. By having a business address and a virtual office, a company is able to maintain professionalism and credibility. It can be quite off-putting to present your company without a direct address, and a virtual office would restore trust of the potential clients to the company.
By having a virtual office address in an area important for developing the company’s business further, you could manage to attract more potential customers, and also create a positive image of the company. Let’s face it, even in a virtual world, first appearances do create a long-lasting impression of you and your company. So, be sure to make the right choice and chose the right coworking company to make this happen.
Not only does it add to the sense of prestige your company will get, but it is also very convenient. You can access the virtual office from anywhere. As long as you have a good internet connection, everything is possible.
Commute is also a factor why virtual offices are a nice solution in the COVID 19 era. If they have to travel long distances, people are in danger of getting infected. The more they travel, the more chances they have to get sick. By working online, and from the comfort of their own home, they are safer, and thus more satisfied.
One other advantage is that you can hire anybody from all around the world, which means that you can get some new talent you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to get if the company hadn’t shifted their work online, to a virtual office.
It is also cost-effective, since the company doesn’t need to pay the services offices usually have. Shifting everything to a virtual office would absolve the company from paying high rent, which, in the end, means more profit to the company.
As we have said, virtual offices provide workers with a business address, mail services and somebody who will always be there to answer the phone. In addition, if a company which opted for a virtual office wanted to have a meeting, they would have the possibility to access to conference rooms, private guests offices and much, much more.
See, for example, Circle Hub’s Ventura office rental offer – they have a conference room with all the latest technology at your disposal, onsite staff ready to meet your every demand and complementary refreshments, so you can relax a bit during the breaks.
Need for a High-Tech Space
One thing every coworking company will have to invest in is making the co shared office space extremely technologically advanced.
So, a few desks and an ordinary Wi-Fi just won’t cut it.
If they want the companies to run their businesses properly, without fear of getting sick, they will need to invest into more advanced features like a good Internet connection, the possibility of entering spaces and meeting rooms without a key, advanced video conferencing technology, and making every imaginable surface computerized.