Like many other businesses, coworking spaces have had to make some major changes to the way they operate after the Covid-19 pandemic.
While coworking has become incredibly popular in recent years – especially amongst start-ups and smaller businesses looking for flexible and affordable office space – the recent pandemic has threatened this upward curve.
The idea of working side by side with co-workers does not fit within the current government guidelines, so coworking spaces have had to adapt to ensure their members’ safety.
Yet the pandemic has also seen remote working become a necessity for the majority of office-based workers across the UK, which conversely will see the benefits and appeal of coworking spaces increase – particularly as an alternative to working from home.
Indeed, the recent shift has backed up the idea that people can work from anywhere (and that they enjoy working close to home), but also that they work best in a quiet, professional setting.
How have coworking spaces adapted?
At the front of mind for coworking providers at this time will be the safety of staff and members. As well as basic hygiene measures such as hand sanitising stations and regular cleaning of the space, many will have also introduced new rules.
At SO Fourteen, the changes we have made have included implementing social distancing by marking off certain desks as out of use and creating a one way system around common areas such as the kitchen.
We have also asked all members to avoid using the space if they experience any symptoms and to notify us as new symptoms develop.
Our Community Manager, Oksana Chaplyko, said: “Throughout this period we have tried to find the best solution for our members while adhering to the safety guidelines.
“We have a strong sense of community at SO Fourteen, which has helped make the communication between ourselves and our members really easy.”
If you are interested in using a coworking space, it is worth talking to your local provider to see what measures they have put in place, as everyone could have a different approach.
Is there still a demand for coworking?
If anything, the appeal of coworking will only increase. As businesses of all sizes begin to review how remote working will tie into their long-term business model, many are acutely aware that working from home is not a viable option for everyone.
While many workers will want to retain the higher amount of flexibility offered by working from home, it can also be isolating or inefficient to work from home in some circumstances.
It also creates the question of whether businesses will want to be tied into long-term office rental leases, especially if local lockdowns become common and those offices are empty or far from capacity.
If businesses do decide to move to a completely remote model, there will be some employees who may want the option of a coworking desk some or all of the time. Business can also benefit from hiring meeting space or renting extra desks so whole teams can get together in the same space and collaborate – socially distanced, of course.
In summary, there will still be a need for office space of some kind, but this will be on a much smaller scale for many businesses. It may be more economical for them to vacate their current office and rely on coworking memberships as and when they need them.