How Are the World’s Coworking Spaces Navigating COVID-19?

 

The global pandemic has proven to be a challenging adversary to traditional operations for the coworking community, in particular, forcing several spaces to close their doors to participants. Coworking operators are under pressure to re-evaluate their activities to survive this volatile storm and implement new business models, sanitation strategies, and scalable solutions for their members as soon as possible.

In general, space utilization has experienced a dramatic decrease as more people are being encouraged to stay home. Coworker conducted a survey between March 16 and March 18, in an attempt to better understand how the introduction of COVID-19 has influenced the coworking and shared office culture, which was shared with over 14,000 coworking spaces in 172 countries worldwide.

Finally, the survey gathered information about the potential spaces had found during these turbulent times to support themselves and each other.

CONSEQUENCES OF COVID-19 FOR COWORKING

One of the most apparent effects of coronavirus has been a huge increase in the number of people working from home, which could theoretically have boosted short-term coworking operations.

Ironically, Coworker's survey found the reverse to be valid — 71.67 percent of spaces say they've seen a substantial decline in the number of people working out of their room after the outbreak. 40.8 percent of coworking spaces reported negative impacts on membership and contract renewals after the outbreak, along with a declining in-person workforce. And, the number of new membership inquiries has fallen by 67 percent of spaces.

The effects of coronavirus are far-reaching for coworking spaces all over the globe and have totally altered the way the spaces carry out everyday business. In the survey, Coworker asked spaces what are the key consequences of coronavirus they faced and they replied with the following

  • Event cancellations (71.04%)
  • Meeting/conference room cancellations (65.99%)
  • Membership cancellations (34.68%)
  • Changing behaviors of members (24.24%)
  • Space closure (20.2%)
  • Sick members (8.75%)

In addition, spaces saw more members opting to work from home, delays in moving-in dates for new coworking tenants, and a move to offering online-only facilities, such as audio editing and recording;

Several spaces have reported that they have for the time being suspended services such as Deskpass, Liquidspace, and other external booking partners with new registrations and guests.

SPACES ADOPT ALTERNATIVE BUSINESS MODELS 

Although these results are both daunting and extremely disruptive across the board for coworking owners, spaces are seeking innovative ways to tackle the impact of the outbreak in a constructive way. Many spaces have embraced innovative business models by reassessing their offerings and developing new approaches in an attempt not just to avoid the spread of the epidemic but also to meet the real needs of their society.

In Coworker's survey, in response to COVID-19, space operators were asked if they had changed their business model or adopted any new activities. Some of the new models combine spaces to help them navigate the crisis:

  • Adjusted cancellation policies to allow for more relaxed cancellation periods
  • Lower pricing for new members and discounts to current members
  • New student memberships for university students transitioning to online classes
  • New “virtual plans” and offering virtual mail services, in which no physical presence is required
  • Ability to rollover any unused days to future months for part-time shared desk members or pause membership entirely
  • Single-person rentals of meeting rooms for virtual meetings
  • Virtual member events and online workshops, including collaborations with video conferencing companies
  • Partnerships with local businesses to assist members and their families, including additional services by food delivery companies
  • Changing marketing strategies to reflect a new focus on selling private office memberships

Such new business models demonstrate the adaptability of the coworking industry, which is committed by its very nature to delivering versatile solutions in whatever way is most required. And while several spaces have agreed to close for now, versatile operators are still optimistic about the future opportunities that this pandemic could bring.

Victory Workspace Walnut Creek Coworking Space
By JeffreymendelImage Courtesy of Jeffrey Nash - Own work, CC BY 3.0, Link

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.