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Coworking in the Time of Covid-19

Coworking in the Time of Covid-19

The global impact of SARS COVID-19, a pandemic that has brought the world to a screeching halt, cannot be understated. Considering the novel nature of the situation we’ve been thrust in, it is extremely difficult for policymakers to formulate an economic policy response.

      Source - World Economic Forum

The rapid spread of the virus continues to wreak havoc on the world’s economy, business operations, and our everyday lives, echoes of which will still be felt years from now. It’s safe to say that people everywhere are going to be rethinking many aspects of how they conduct themselves and their businesses, post lockdown.

One such area that is already being reevaluated by many, is the role of the office space in our lives. For many, working from home for five weeks has definitely challenged many conventional ideas of working in an office. Many more will also vary to travel long distances post lockdown, preferring more private spaces in order to follow social distancing norms for their personal safety.

We are on the brink of a workspace revolution, a curious prospect, particularly because over the past few years, we were introduced to another such revolution- the ‘Coworking Movement’. It is only apt to gauge whether the Coworking model will survive in the current work environment and if not- what instead makes for the ideal work solution.

Coworking- A Rapid Rise 

The idea of setting up shop in a Coworking space took off amongst freelancers, startups, and budding entrepreneurs. Introduced to the world as an alternative for those working from home, the concept grew and developed into a viable real estate business for landlords and evolved into a core part of the strategy for occupants.

Coworking Spaces gained momentum at a rapid pace in India and the industry was expected to double in a few years as it was an affordable option to new players and newcomers in the business. It provided a feasible platform for both flourishing small businesses and mature successful businesses to work with minimal office hassles with the added benefit of ‘community building’.

Above all, coworking placed an emphasis on ‘community’, ‘networking’, ‘collaboration’, ‘growing together’, and ‘human interaction’. Not only was this a selling point for young businesses looking to grow their contact spheres, but it was also cost effective for the coworking space. The result is an environment where several employees/workers from different organisations and industries are able to share a common office for an affordable price in prime locations, while also sharing common utilities and services. Clients were connected with the people around them as they worked out of a common open area. It should also be noted that questions began to arise regarding the productivity and effectiveness of such spaces.

According to a CBRE Group Inc (real estate consultancy firm) report published in 2019, 10% of office spaces were occupied by coworking spaces and it was expected to rise to 25% in a few years. Coworking spaces witnessed an upsurge of 277%  in leasing 3 Million Square Feet and was projected to grow by 70% every Financial Quarter.

But the 3rd  Quarter of 2019 did not favour Coworking spaces as was predicted. The COVID-19 outbreak altered the very landscape coworking was built on.

Coworking- A Hasty Halt

The current situation of coworking is not as it was in 2019- a primary choice for those in need of affordable workspaces. It’s favour has dramatically worsened as the pandemic encourages safety through social distancing.

Even before the lockdown was issued by the government, several companies began issuing work from home orders for the safety of their employees. Organizations that used coworking spaces started pushing for flexible plans in an effort to reduce the amount of time spent in the workplace. Social distancing was near impossible to implement in an open office structure.

As a result, the 1st week of March 2020 saw a dip in occupancy close to 50%. By mid March, that figure grew to 90% before the offices were completely shut down due to the government mandated lockdown.

Coworking was a platform that encouraged human interaction through proximity. Now the long aisles, stretched across open expanses, lay empty. People have abandoned their work desks and it appears as though they will remain vacant for quite some time. Meeting rooms have been swapped for video calls and networking takes place remotely. Shared facilities, utilities and even handshakes are a thing of the past. Private spaces are commodities of the future.

Coworking faces an uphill battle, as clients will always prioritise health and safety above all else. For the foreseeable future, most people will look to avoid crowds, long commutes and fixed office expenditures. Alternate solutions and models will be sought.

Factors that Will block the People from getting back to Coworking Spaces
  1. Social Distancing - The lockdown and  stay at home orders were issued to avoid participating in large gatherings. Coworking spaces are designed to encourage large gatherings of clients from various areas. 
  2. Common Amenities - Employees have to share common desks, chairs, telephones, electric switches, coffee machines etc. Interacting with all these using bare hands can increase the risk of infection. 
  3. Inhaling Of Same Air - Sharing an enclosed atmosphere with many other people for long periods of time is prone to raise chances of infection. 

What do people need from an office today?

  • Private Workspaces: 
    Private, dedicated cabins for individuals and small teams are absolutely essential to maintain a productive lifestyle while still practicing social distancing.
  • Location, Location, Location:
    It’s not wise to engage in long commutes or travel large distances. It is encouraged to find a workspace near home. Working remotely has proven to be a viable option for many. Decentralized teams can still collaborate effectively. The real ‘gap’ to be addressed is having a professional and productive space to work from, that is not your home.
  • Flexible Plans that Cut Costs:It’s time to look for smart flexible solutions for an office space. Not only does it save on expenses but it also enables you to adapt quickly to evolving situations.
  • Office Support Services:The role of an office is not limited to simply offering a physical space with a desk. It should also provide the necessary support that any company needs. This is especially important for small teams and decentralized teams. This would include reception and secretarial services, errand services, dedicated telephone lines, back-office support etc.
  • Cleanliness and Hygiene:It is extremely important to ensure that your office is taking the necessary measures and steps to maintain a safe and sterile environment. 
  • 24 Hour Access:A feature that has immense value, especially for MNCs or companies with clients in different time zones. Your office should be accessible to you at any given time. 
  • Reliable Fast Internet:
    An essential commodity in today’s world, made even more important as collaboration, meetings and networking have become increasingly remote and online. 
  • Security and CCTV: 
    Trained professional security personnel are a necessity to provide safety. CCTV cameras should be installed in and around the office for added security.
  • Fully Furnished Cabins: 
    Your modern, professional office should be designed to plug and play. This requires the private space to have everything one needs in an office- Desk, Chairs, Whiteboards, Telephone, Markers, Ports, water bottles. Meeting rooms and conference rooms need to be ready with projectors.
  • Parking: 
    In a congested city like Bangalore parking is a major hurdle. One Would like to find parking nearby or within the office facility to reduce the amount of time spent exposed.
  • Pantry/ Break Room:A well-designed recreation area to allow for pleasant breaks and access to refreshments. The same should also be available from cabins as well, such as tea and coffee. 

The time calls for us to question what exactly an office space needs to accomplish in order to be both productive and protected. Serviced Private Offices, such as Golden Square, which checks off all above points may be the ideal smart solution for both small and large teams today. A balance must be struck between social distance, hospitality and value.

Stay Private- Productive- Protected

Golden Square’s serviced private offices, are able to provide fully functional offices and cabins, with signature support services all across Bangalore. Plug and play at an hourly/monthly basis, while enjoying the effectiveness of a modern professional office. Golden Square continues to provide Joy at Work®, as the team strives to find unique solutions to this unique situation.

Learn more about how Golden Square can assist you with your Serviced Private Office:



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