Coworking and COVID-19
Will COVID-19 kill coworking spaces?
There are at least three reasons why the coworking industry ought not only to emerge stronger but also more relevant and necessary from the COVID-19 crisis. In fact, they’re probably one of the key parts of the economy once people are back at work.
Reason No. 1: Remote Workers Have to Work Somewhere
The pandemic will encourage cities to "embrace telework," as Richard Florida and Steven Pedigo have noted. They quote Tulsa Remote, a system run by public and private entities in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to draw remote staff from elsewhere. Coworking spaces play a vital role in the initiative, housing the remote staff that have been relocated and helping them plug into the local scene.
For the first time now, many people are only getting acquainted with telework and working out all kinds of ways to make it easy. This may mean that more staff and employers are at peace with it. But that doesn't mean all those remote employees will forever be working at home. Our prediction is that after a few months of a lockout and working at home millions of people will be willing to work from anywhere else, somewhere else.
Reason No. 2: Resource Coordination for Small Business
Coworking spaces not only meet remote workers' needs: they are a vital support system for small enterprises, sole owners, self-employed employees, and other entrepreneurs. They are a lifeline especially for small businesses that "operate on the outskirts" of local economies. Working at home doesn't provide a remedy for many of them, and the burden especially falls on those in lower-income quintiles.
Coworking spaces are ideally placed to assist in organizing and directing aid through numerous local disaster response funds. They are better connected to the peripheral and hard-to-reach enterprises; they know them personally, in many cases; and they have trusting relationships.
If you are a mayor or philanthropic foundation or chamber of commerce, you should turn to your local coworking spaces to see (a) how they can help you support the local economy, and (b) how you can support them in continuing to fulfill their vital role.
Reason No. 3: Community is Key to Recovery
Coworking spaces are private, collective economic drivers. LaunchPad announced in its 2020 Impact Report, published in January, that its member businesses had:
- Created over 9,000 jobs,
- Raised over $230 million in equity capital, and
- Leased over one million square feet of commercial real estate.*
(*FD: I assisted LaunchPad with their Impact Report.)
Exactly those are the kinds of figures that city and national leaders worry about. Come summer, they'll be searching for ways to build jobs and fill office space after the crisis's emergency phase abates. Coworking facilities can improve.
The group aspect is just as important as economic impact — and that will be crucial for recovery and rebound. As we step into a future characterized by some ever-present degree of social distance, it might break down group relations. The economic hit to small businesses would lead to "decay" of "organizational capital" which will be difficult to recover, says Tyler Cowen.
More than ever, entrepreneurs, business owners and employees will need social networks and local ties to recover their footing. We are now seeing a certain degree of communities unite behind their local businesses through gift card malls and other support outlets. It is a positive sign; it lasts, hopefully.
However, it won't be like turning a switch when the lockdowns end. Some companies will not reopen; some hopes of entrepreneurship will be stymied forever. The power of the community will be important to help people re-connect, create new networks and support each other.
That’s what effective coworking spaces do: they’re community hubs, essential sources of the Local Connectedness that will be a key ingredient in rebounding from the crisis.
Are You Ready to Find Your New Coworking Space?
Victory Workspace has been serving professionals in the Walnut Creek, California area for over ten years, and even after the Covid 19 Shelter in Place is over we will be here for you. We offer a large variety of coworking spaces, short term office rentals, meeting rooms and a welcoming event space with plenty of free parking for you or your guests. All that while providing our clients with daily opportunities to network with other business-minded professionals just like you! To learn more, set up your free tour or inquire about which one of services might be right for you, reach out to one of our amazing Community Guides at Victory Workspace for more information.