Prevention measures against COVID-19 for coworking spaces

COVID-19 lockdown

We will all remember 2020 as the COVID-19 outbreak year but also for the year of change. Since January the world is facing a health war with several deaths (according to John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center there are 3.357.450 confirmed infected people and 238.50 confirmed deaths worldwide dated on 2nd of May), physical isolation, confinement, people obliged working remotely from home and, to whom it isn’t possible to work remotely; their economic activity has been suspended. Nobody was ready for this, we are living hard and uncertain time, a time for reflection to realize that we have to make changes in our society, in our system, in our habits and overall the way we live (and work).

The coworking sector, as many other sectors, has suffered losses by having to limit its operations or close its doors. Coworking incomes entirely depend on providing a service and include the payment to different suppliers such as the rent of the space (if you are not the property), supplies, internet, maintenance, cleaning, etc, without forgetting the personal expenses. The P&L has been affected, especially to those spaces with little cash flow or to those that couldn’t manage to negotiate a deal to freeze payments such as the rent.

During the state of alarm, most coworking spaces had to freeze membership’s payments or offer discounts from 50% to 100% off. Besides, they have also made a huge effort taking care of the community more than ever, carrying out different actions to get closer, helping members with legal advice to get aids and funds for their businesses and, organizing online activities to keep their members connected.

Prevention measures against COVID-19 to reopen the space

Members health and well-being is operators main focus to re-open the coworking space, who are currently working to adequate space and ensure the maximum safety and peace of the members.

HWL has facilitated a webinar for the students of Facility Management Postgraduate organized by Escola Sert (Colegi d’Arquitectes de Catalunya). The students have elaborated a preventive measures guide for one of our customer, the coworking Factory 103, a proposal that can be taken for any coworking space and has been designed following international and local official guidelines.

Cleaning intensification

Increase the cleaning hours of the space, during opening hours to the public, as after.

  • Constant cleaning of frequently used surfaces and crowded spaces with viricidal products authorized by the Ministry of Health of the Government of Spain.
  • Place disposable towels in both sinks and kitchens, as well as hand dryers to avoid continuous contact.
  • Wash kitchen utensils such as plates, glasses, cups or forks at 60 degrees temperature.
  • Empty and clean fridges every day.
Air regeneration

Air conditioning and ventilation play an important role in the spread of COVID-19.

  • It is recommended to increase the air renewal through air conditioning recuperators and install mobile ones where necessary.
  • Increase system maintenance and filter cleaning using viricides.
  • We suggest introducing natural air purifying and regenerating plants throughout the space.
  • Ventilate spaces daily.
Access control
  • Establish access and exit control at reception to control the flow of people at all times.
  • Regarding parcels, ask members to reduce orders. Those that arrive will be disinfected with a biocide spray and quarantined 24 hours.
Redistribution of the space

Maintaining physical distance is essential to avoid infection.

  • Increase the distance between work stations to 2 meters for fix and flex positions.
  • Indicate routes with coloured signs to maintain distances and not invade spaces.
  • Put partitions for the confronted tables.
  • If work stations capacity decrease due to re-distribution, move these positions to meeting rooms or common spaces temporarily.
  • Regarding the common areas, limit the capacity according to de-escalating phase.
Other additional measures

Above all, we recommend a sense of community to adapt to the new normal. In addition to:

  • Delivery of a protection kit to each coworker (reusable mask, disinfectant gel and disposable gloves).
  • Install disinfectant gel dispensers in reception, meeting rooms, skype booths, kitchen and common areas.
  • It is recommended to have an infrared thermometer in case you have to measure body temperature.
  • Regarding pets, it is recommended to disinfect the paws of animals when entering the center or installing a biocide mat or similar.
  • Communicate the prevention plan to all coworkers and make sure they are aware of the plan.

We advise you not to make a big investment in the changes, especially those affecting the layout and design because they are temporary changes until the vaccine will be found.

The coworking sector has been characterized by its resilience and rapid ability to adapt and respond to new needs. The coronavirus is not going to be an exception. This is an opportunity to create a better future of work, focused on the well-being of people.

The article was written by Vanessa Sans, founder of HWL.

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