GCUC Online: Covid, Coworking & The Future Follow Up

By Stormy McBride On May 13, 2020 In CoworkingSustainabilityCoworking TrendsFuture of WorkGCUC WebinarsCOVID-19

Photo of coworking person

As promised we gathered up the unanswered questions from our GCUC online event on the 21st and tracked down the answers for you.

Below are the questions from the Covid, Coworking and the Future session with Carsten Foertch and Jean Yves Huwart. 

My question is around which membership do you predict will thrive? Offices or shorter term dedicated desks? 

Flexible, short-term solutions allow better reactions than less flexible long-term solutions to a situation that can change quickly.

Otherwise, I think, it’s not an either-or question. There’s more than one member type and that’s why coworking spaces have often offered different layouts and membership solutions in the past. The virus has currently increased the need and measures for a stricter hygiene and more spatial distance, but it hasn’t changed all our other needs. For example, members that have chosen a coworking space in the past for more interaction and less isolation at work won’t likely be interested in an individual office.

Furthermore, private offices don’t necessarily offer a better virus protection than open workspaces when more people work in the same room. A locked door(-handle) could even become another critical surface if it is often touched by different people. In the end, it’s about the physical distance between people, clean air and stricter hygiene in all areas. Individual offices, actually only their walls, seem to offer a better isolated environment, but they also rely on shared infrastructures such as shared toilets, shared office kitchens, shared corridors, or lifts that are subject to those rules above. In case of problems, it might be easier to shift responsibilities to users of private offices, but they still can affect you indirectly.

In addition, our abilities to satisfy our needs are limited by other factors such as the money we have or we are willing to spend. Even if you like to work in an individual office with a dedicated toilet and 10-ply toilet paper, people or companies may or do not want to afford it, especially not in a recession. – Carsten

Also do you think offering discounts for the remainder of the year is advisable?

This depends on many individual factors and is more a case-to-case decision. Discounts are usually offered for a limited time to reduce the barrier of signing a long-term contract. In general, it doesn’t make much sense to compete over lower prices if operators can’t afford those discounts in the mid- or long-term. Furthermore, the price is also not the only reason why people decide to work from a coworking space. – Carsten

What do you think the impact to Landlords will be? In your experience are they being reasonable and flexible with coworking/flex-space operators in light of the crisis? 

Short version: In general, they won’t offer better contracts in the short term, apart from some payment breaks. Long-term contracts usually do not force ad-hoc changes from a landlord. 

However, it will look different if a contract is expiring soon, if a specific coworking space (chain)  represents an important source of a landlord’s income, and for all other tenants when more bankruptcies occur in the medium term. If a landlord doesn’t currently offer a more reasonable solution, it won’t be necessarily the landlord’s last decision regarding any future contract changes.- Carsten

With anticipated increase in videoconferencing, do you have any ideas for sound mitigation in open spaces? We have a few quiet spaces , but if everyone is on conferences at the same time, then sound will be overwhelming. Plexi will help with hygiene but not sound.

There are so many solutions out there. White noise machines, acoustic paneling or carpeting. Adding in more rugs or furniture into the room. Dedicating talking zones, utilizing outside space if available. Phone booths. We have an entire resource dedicated to this inside of the GCUC Resource library. – GCUC