These days, we might ask this about going to the store, ordering from a restaurant, or seeing friends. And, we might also ask: is it safe to work in a coworking environment right now?
Is it safe?
The shelter at home restrictions shuttered all non-essential businesses to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year, but now some states are easing restrictions and many businesses are looking to get back to normal. But for those who don’t have to set foot in an office again, it’s likely safety is at the core of the decision to head into work at a coworking space or just stay home.
That’s an important question for many, particularly as some experts predict the pandemic may have propelled the business world into a major cultural shift: fewer companies may retain traditional headquarters, turning instead to regional hubs and co-working spaces instead of pooling employees in a single, central office, a CNBC report predicts.
But before anyone is heading into the office – HQ or coworking space – understanding health and safety is essential.
Here, we look at 10 practical steps to help workers feel safe in a coworking environment.
- Create – and communicate – new cleaning standards. Coworking space operators are establishing new rules for cleaning common areas – and should communicate those new policies to members.
- Empower individuals to maintain their work area. By providing cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer to members, coworking spaces can allow members to discern how rigorous they want to be at their own workstation.
- Enforce a ‘stay home’ policy for members who are sick. Coworking tends to draw very ambitiously, driven individuals, many who may feel tempted to power through sick days. But this can’t happen in a coworking space – sick members must stay home, no exceptions.
- Revisit office layouts. Open spaces and office suites must be reviewed to ensure they allow proper distance between employees. In some cases, spaces may need to reduce density.
- Create new cultural norms. Replace handshakes with elbow touches, shoe shakes, or a ‘Namaste’ – or invent your own greeting to replace handshakes and hugs.
- Continue to support overall health. In addition to introducing extra precautions, coworking spaces should continue to promote general well-being, ensuring members are able to improve mental, physical, and spiritual health. Access to healthy food, workout equipment, and restful spaces can help members remain healthier overall, so long as these amenities continue to abide by expert recommendations for safety in the pandemic. (For example, onsite gyms shouldn’t open until other gyms have the ‘okay’ to do so).
- Enable outdoor breaks. Providing access to outdoor spaces not only improves members’ experience during the workday, but it also provides a much safer space for small gatherings until the pandemic subsides. Members can meet social needs and maintain appropriate distance when they need a break.
- Improve air quality. Employees experience an 11% increase in productivity after their workstation received increase fresh air and a reduction in pollution, according to World Green Building Council research cited in Forbes. Coworking spaces can support air quality by:
- Implementing a no-smoking policy
- Reducing office clutter
- Installing air filtration systems
- Introducing office plants
- Opening windows when possible
- Educate members. Provide members with peace of mind that the coworking space and all its members are on the same page. Post public health notices and clear guidelines around conduct and space policy to ensure everyone is on the same page.
- Adapt. Coworking spaces should be willing to adapt previous policies to address concerns and provide better support for members. For example, one of the long-touted values of coworking spaces is the freedom in working from any space. At least in the near term, one solution to ease members’ minds could be assigned seating. Community gatherings may also need to look different, at least in the near term. Fortunately, flexibility is another core tenant of coworking spaces, and many will have an opportunity to practice it now.
How can HEXA help you feel confident returning to the office?
Are you ready to stop battling for Wifi, dealing with barely acceptable work stations, and working and living within the same four walls? Come tour our coworking space today, and see for yourself how we’re taking safety seriously. Today, you’ll be happy to step up your office game. Tomorrow, you’ll be glad you chose an ecosystem that will build into your business and help propel you forward. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us what your major safety concerns are, and learn how we’re addressing them.