Since the pandemic hit earlier this year, brands big or small have been forced to operate from the safety of their homes, sometimes with less than a quarter of the normal workforce. As a result, a plethora of challenges like an average of 50% less conversions, compromised supply chain systems, delays in order deliveries, and acquiring raw material consignments surface, stifling brands under an already-suffering market. Reports say that the figures for remote working have plummeted in the last five years by as much as 44% until COVID-19 came honking, and now because of the growing strains on financial terms for brands, coworking is the only cost-effective way to bloom post-COVID-19 scenario. Not to mention the flexibility and pandemic-proof it provides. While the coworking industry feels the same on this, it has also led many business owners, critics, and workers to ask if it’s really safe to set up their office at a coworking space, yet? And, with the numbers of coworking spaces opening their shutters back gradually, even when the fear of exposure is escalating every day puts many minds to wonder.
For what it’s worth, the lockdown isn’t here forever. To term it in a better way, we’ve had to co-exist with COVID-19 for a long time now, accepting it as a new normal. Of course, there’d be strict hygiene and sanitization protocols, but as soon as businesses reopen, many new policies (like social distancing, surface disinfection) have to be included in their respective offices to avoid any contamination, leading to another shutdown. While it comes with an attached expensive dollar value to conduct all procedures religiously, it also raises the question if there’s any better way to do this? The answer lies in coworking spaces where the entire community shares the expenses and takes responsibility without burning a hole in your pocket in these troubling times. Besides, brands don’t even have to pay throughout a lockdown for their space at a coworking space.
In this digital age as technology gets better with each moment, you literally don’t have to be physically present in any of the multiple places you need to be at the same time. Sustainable coworking will be an integral part of the new normal – where coworking spaces would be implementing full-scale ergonomic and eco-friendly protocols, as people get more responsible post-COVID-19 lockdown. They can also target their interiors to a more activity-focused workplace where employees can work more collaboratively, especially when brands require deep-rooted, centralized supervision for efficiency. That said, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to how brands have to re-align their operations and business models to make room for employee participation, greater work-life balance, and most importantly – breaking stereotypes on densification of offices at a prime location, hoteling, etc.
Here’s how the future of coworking spaces would look like:
1. Convenient, Flexible Space Leases
For brands that thrive on their leased office spaces might have to take the brunt of the matter as they might not be able to bounce back to the full-time office leasing as the lockdown eases. Furthermore, there might be more than many reasons they won’t need it too. Coworking spaces need to leverage the most of this feature by providing custom, pliant workspace layout design to each of its tenants based on their requirements prior to their arrival for a more personalized feel.
2. Not so ‘Shared’ Coworking Spaces
While a majority of people associated the phenomenon of open spaces with coworking, it is actually a proposed-grouping of employees within a similar or related domain known as communities that is the crux of the matter. However, with the possibility of contamination, coworking spaces would now need to come up with unique, personal work environments distinct to each brand with acoustic and visual privacies. While it may sound odd, there are many designers who have thought this by keeping their focus on designing process, maintenance, and production. It is similar to preserving the essence of coworking spaces (i.e. human connection) intact while altering it in terms of safety, security, and hygiene.
3. Reconstructing Work Systems Digitally
With the lockdown, businesses (are already) would resort to an entirely different work setup led by an asynchronous brainstorming session carried out on digital channels, before deciding on new ideas and finally incorporating them. It may include a constant coming to and moving away from the workstation, at different stages of the project, including working remotely on a multi-hour period. Thus, to encourage such organizations to come up to a coworking space, it’d require a robust system that can deliver according to custom working models of businesses – which would seek to reconstruct new boundaries where video conferencing can no longer include fifty people staring at the computer screen together. Rather, it would consist of personal cubicles with proper airflow and physical boundaries. Such reimagining would lay the foundation of an advanced, effective operating model that can easily be integrated into the fabric of employers for all its remote and in-person employees.
The COVID-19 might be a quake but it is definitely shaking things up for the innovation culture to take the lead as a service. Previously, an enterprise considered employees policies and bringing them back to offices as one of the essential roles of their operations, today, on the other hand, the employer is also accountable in making sure that the office spaces are safe and productive for their employees to thrive. The continuous period of working remotely has messed up almost everyone’s work-life balance, it also has caused employees to lose focus and feeling lonely as they work. Therefore, coworking spaces must also establish serendipitous, diverse, virtual collaborative environments in their new blueprints for companies to work in their optimal stage – large and small. If you find yourself looking for such a collaborative coworking space in Kolkata, we’d recommend hopping in Zioks at Salt Lake, Sector-V. It is known for its community of technicians, freelancers, and entrepreneurs as they work together harmoniously. Also, if you’d like to know about how typical remote work is entirely different from quarantine work, you may find their blog helpful.