Many co-working spaces are already framing drastic measures to restart their business post lockdown, ensuring the safety of members and hygiene of premises at the highest level.
The risk and fear of exposure to the global pandemic is escalating every passing day. While the government efforts are in full pace to curb the drastic impact of the virus that is rapidly taking a toll on human lives, there is still no clarity as to when the normal life resumes. The businesses across various sectors are wondering about the impact it will leave before recovery even starts.
It is well understood that lockdown cannot stay forever. Perhaps we will have to live with coronavirus for a long time now, accepting this as a normal life. Once the lockdown is over and companies are allowed to operate from their office spaces, a lot of new measures and policies will have to be implemented across all workplace environments to get hold of the risk of catching the infection. To continue business-as-usual and ensure greater attraction of corporates towards coworking workspaces, the community will have to implement heightened safety protocols, higher than a traditional office.
Many co-working spaces are already framing drastic measures to restart their business post lockdown, ensuring the safety of members and hygiene of premises at the highest level. Let us explore specific ways that the sector can leverage as part of their business continuity efforts.
Co-working Spaces: A Preferable Option
Co-working spaces have always held the edge when it comes to cost-efficiency. The community expects to see fastest revival post lockdown. As the pandemic scare eases out and many businesses look to restart their business-as-usual, co-working spaces will be the first preference for many as they are most cost effective and flexible in time period of rental agreements. Additionally, companies cannot continue work from home for a long time as most of them have functions which require a high level of centralised supervision which are only available in a formal office setting. Such businesses are highly dependent on infrastructure in offices to work efficiently. Moving ahead, co-working spaces will need to re-design their workspaces such as more focus on activity-based working environment along with collaboration zones.
Behavioural and Physical Space Alterations
Once work resumes after the lockdown, office workspaces will require large-scale behavioural and physical space alterations, drastically different from pre-COVID era, when optimising the use of office space was a priority.
The co-working space community would have to look into many aspects such as seating at offices in accordance with social distancing norms, launching shift-based work, virtual meetings, ramp up hygiene protocol with regular sanitisation of premises and also, sanitising hands of every member entering the premises. It will require the provision of hand sanitisers and replacing biometric with access cards.
Some important measures include staggered meal timings with seating demarcation, adequate space between workstations, increased spacing between seats in meeting rooms, restriction of gatherings in common areas, demarcated standing areas at entry and exit points, drawing boxes on the floor inside lifts and restrictions on the movement of members between floors. Workspace managers will have to encourage members to use the best of their civic senses while availing common services in coworking spaces as hygiene remains the top-most priority. Also, co-working spaces will need to ensure the compliance of members with shift based or rotational work system to do away with the chances of over-crowding. This may also require them to frame a new policy framework or regulations.
The usually uncouth public is surprisingly compliant. People are keeping each other at a distance and wearing masks for good measure. Everybody knows they face a dire threat. Coworking spaces would need to re-plan their workspaces, ensuring that interactions do not result in infection.
Summing It All Up
Risk management will now be an inevitable part of management decision making, especially when companies chalk out their business continuity plans (BCP). While companies will look forward to enhancing their Emergency Response Teams for future situations, chances are they will plan to create diversity in geographies and supply chain, increasing the opportunity for flexible workspaces in Tier 2 & Tier 3. We might also see a chunk of companies moving to tier 2 and tier 3 cities to avoid a shutdown amidst the crisis. Expanding operations across geographies should work well for the co-working community.
(By Paras Arora, Founder and CEO, Qdesq)