Just like the rest of the world, when we were making plans for the future, we certainly didn’t factor in a global pandemic that would change all of our lives in a matter of weeks. Suddenly, offices were empty, the shutters went down on shops, restaurants and cafes and even school gates were closed. The bustling coworking hubs that have revolutionised the working lives of so many were suddenly empty and a lot of us found ourselves wearing our pyjamas daily and wrestling with home office equipment as we tried to adjust to the new directive to stay at home.
The anxiety of this time in our lives is tangible; it is essential that guidelines are followed to keep everyone safe. However, this has led to a growing sense of uncertainty amongst us all. Many who are self-employed are wondering how they can continue to earn in such unprecedented times. Companies are facing the tough decision of having to let staff go. The impact of the pandemic is felt by us all. Many had opted to work in a coworking space because of the opportunities for collaboration it offers. Without that, how would they continue to work? A lot of us began thinking about our long-term options; what would happen to coworking when lockdown restrictions were eased?
As the country grapples with the idea of a ‘new normal’, we began to evaluate the role of coworking in our society and how the concept of a shared workspace may be able to solve some of the problems that lie ahead, for both workers and employers.
Coworking has seen a massive soar in popularity in recent years, for freelancers, entrepreneurs and corporates alike. Looking ahead, there are many reasons why the flexible, versatile approach to workplace creation could be very useful as we all seek ways to work safely and rebuild a stable, healthy workplace where we can all feel safe and confident.
1. Flexibility and Versatility
Coworking spaces are designed to be versatile, they are created with the sole aim of meeting the needs of a wide range of different people with different ways of working. Office zoning for different activities is a huge part of this. This means that it may be easier for coworking spaces to implement some of the changes that may be required to meet guidelines on safety in the workplace during the pandemic. An adaptable workspace means that social distancing is easier to put in place. Flexibility in the working hours of a shared office means that it is easier to accommodate the different needs of the users. After all, coworking hubs are designed to change and grow with the needs of their users, and we all know things have to change while the risk of Covid-19 is part of our lives.
2. Chase the WFH Blues
Lots of employees who never worked from home before have had to find a way to adapt their homes to their workplace needs. For some, this has been a welcome change. But for many, the novelty has well and truly worn off. From wrestling with inadequate home office equipment to the difficulty of having to adapt to digital meetings, navigating the addition of family members also working from home and let’s not forget the need to home school children; homeworking has proven to be a challenge to many of us. Of course, that is before we consider the loneliness that can also come with working from home. Staying motivated, not getting distracted and maintaining a healthy work/life balance are all challenges that coworking aims to solve. A change of environment is not just a welcome break, it can also be a powerful motivating force that enables you to create a healthy division between your personal life and your working life.
Shared office spaces, that are close to home and which have implemented safety measures according to official guidelines, can dramatically improve productivity and offer a safe way for individuals to collaborate.
Many company offices are struggling to implement social distancing measures, especially in major cities such as London where workspace comes at a premium. Some companies are finding that there simply isn’t enough floor space to allow for increasing the distance between employees. There are various ways to deal with this, from staggering working times to more drastic options such as downsizing the number of employees.
Again, a shared workspace in a coworking hub could offer a lifeline to these companies, saving the cost of paying rent for a whole office. Coworking is ideal for employees who need the benefits and facilities of a high spec office while adhering to safe social distancing practices. This, in turn, allows companies to return to full capacity much more quickly, hopefully aiding in economic recovery for everyone concerned, from the workers and their employers to the wider economic community.
4. Time to Team Up
If there is any comfort to be taken from the current situation, it is that most of us are experiencing many of the same difficulties. We share concerns about both the pandemic and how it affects the marketplace now and in the future. One of the ways that we can overcome these difficulties is by working together, collaborating and finding shared solutions to problems as they arise so we can make up for the losses of the past few months and mitigate against future loss.
This is where coworking shines! A collaborative workspace brings benefits to everyone involved. Not only does it feed that part of us that thrives when we are part of a community, but it also has a reciprocal effect. As you make connections with other coworkers and build up a network of trusted people, all with different talents and abilities, you find yourself with more work to do. This is not just true for freelancers or the self-employed; employees of companies can also make valuable connections that can accelerate recovery.
5. Mental Health and Happiness
Arguably one of the biggest impacts of lockdown was on mental health. People from all parts of society, from all walks of life, came under unprecedented stress and strain as they were faced with the uncertainty and fear of a global pandemic. Life changed; for billions of people, work and education were put on hold and many people were separated from those they loved. The difficulties of lockdown life were made worse by financial uncertainty and now that the economy has shrunk, lots of us have very real concerns about our financial future.
Coworking safely in a shared office space that had been adapted for these strange times could offer a welcome return to working life outside of the home. Being around other people – even at a distance – can bring benefits to our mental health. Of course, returning to a productive way of working can help restore a sense of security and confidence.
All of these factors are only benefits if the shared workspace does everything possible to ensure the health and safety of the coworkers. Areaworks takes an uncompromising approach to mitigating risk; from additional cleaning and provision of sanitation supplies to increased distancing measures, new layouts and traffic flow. You can check out exactly what we have been doing to make our workspaces safe. We’re all about protecting our community so that everyone can return to working in a healthy and happy environment. Now, more than ever, we need to look after one another.
If you want to find out more about how Areaworks could offer you a safe way to work, get in touch! We’re happy to discuss what you need and how we can help you to do what you do best.