COVID-19: 6 Simple Steps to Make Your Coworking Space a Safer Place for Residents
This article is dedicated to one of the main problems shaking the world these days. It's a global outbreak of coronavirus COVID-19 disease.
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a disease that was first identified in Wuhan, China, and is now being spread throughout the world.
Symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath, which may appear 2-14 days after exposure.
COVID-19 are most often spread through the air by coughing or sneezing, through close personal contact like touching and shaking hands or through touching your nose, mouth or eyes before washing your hands.
andcards believes that people fear the unknown. The more informed you are about the enemy, the easier it is to confront the danger. So, from this article you will know:
- How to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your coworking space.
- How to minimize COVID-19 risks during the meetings.
- What to do if some community member gets ill with COVID-19.
Besides, we have conducted some mini-interviews with coworking space operators from different countries. They shared great tips on how they protect their members and their businesses from coronavirus.
To avoid panic and rumors, make sure that your members and staff know what is coronavirus COVID-19 disease and what rules they should follow to protect themselves from getting infected.
Ignorance breeds chaos.
A large group of viruses that cause humans and animal illnesses is called coronaviruses. These viruses usually cause upper respiratory symptoms — cough and runny nose. Some can cause more serious illness.
The 2019 novel (new) coronavirus causes the illness coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Do not reuse tissue after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.
There is no lack of information distribution channels nowadays. However, not all of them are suitable for this sort of message. Ideally, you should create a series of posts, maybe even newsletters and push notifications and send them via your internal communication channel (just for members) such as Slack or Stream that is integrated with your coworking management software.
This way you will ensure that your message won't get lost among tons of social media notifications and emails your residents get daily.
Keeping the workplace clean is the key.
- Make sure that your coworking space is clean and hygienic.
- All surfaces and objects frequently touched by members and employees (desks, tables, telephones, keyboards, etc.) must be regularly wiped with disinfectant.
- Pay special attention to cleaning meeting rooms, phone booths, café, disinfecting visitor management system iPad at the reception (if you have the one).
- Maybe it's even worth to consider hiring more cleaning staff.
Keeping the workplace clean you prevent the spread of COVID-19 as contaminated surfaces are one the main ways to get sick.
- Remind members and employees to wash their hands regularly and thoroughly. You can do it with posters that promote hand-washing. Download a ready-made poster demonstrating how to wash the hands correctly and print it out for your workplace.
Find more Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) print resources to use at your coworking space.
- Make sure that both members and managers have easy access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water because simple washing kills the virus on your hands and prevents the spread of COVID-19.
- Put sanitizing hand rub dispensers in places where they can be easily noticed by members. Those dispensers must be available all around the workplace and regularly refilled by the cleaning staff.
- Monitor respiratory hygiene in the coworking space. Make sure that the venue is well ventilated, open windows and doors whenever you have the chance to do it.
By optimizing the workspace I mean that meeting rooms and common spaces shouldn't be crammed with members.
- Make sure that the distance between the seats at your coworking space is not less than one meter.
- Take out extra chairs from common spaces to make it impossible for members to crowd there.
- Prepare a separate meeting room/area where the ill person can stay isolated for some time while waiting for further instructions from local health authorities. This is necessary to limit the number of people contacting the sick person.
I know that canceling events may negatively impact your business, however, it would be wise not to risk members' health and limit or even completely cancel all gatherings till the situation with coronavirus pandemic improves.
No coworking brand wants to get into the news telling how many people got sick during the community event. This will seriously harm your brand image.
If it's absolutely impossible to cancel a meeting or an event, follow these rules to make it as safe as possible.
- Before planning any face-to-face meeting or event make sure that it is really needed. Maybe it can be replaced by a teleconference or online meet up.
- Scale down the meet up so that fewer people attend it.
- Prepare sufficient supplies of tissues, hand sanitizer, and other materials for all meeting participants.
- Provide surgical masks for anyone who develops respiratory symptoms.
- Advise participants in advance that if they don't feel well or have any disease symptoms they should not attend the event.
- Collect contact details of all event participants (mobile telephone number, email, address.) You need this info to share with local public health authorities if any participant becomes ill with suspected infectious disease.
- Make up a plan in case someone at the meeting becomes ill with symptoms of COVID-19 (dry cough, fever, malaise). You need to know beforehand where to safely isolate that person, how to safely transfer them from coworking space to a health facility.
- During the meeting provide information on COVID-19 and measures you take to make it safe for participants both in oral and in written form.
- Practice ways to say hello without touching, introduce no handshake policy.
- Encourage frequent hand-washing/use of an alcohol rub by all meeting participants.
- Encourage meeting participants to cover their faces with the bend of their elbow or tissue if they cough or sneeze.
- Supply tissues and closed bins to dispose them.
- Provide a health hotline number that members and managers can call when they need advice or information.
- Place dispensers of alcohol-based hand rub prominently around the meeting rooms.
- If it is possible, arrange seats at least one meter apart to ensure that members have some distance between one another.
- Make sure that the venue is well ventilated, open windows and doors whenever you have the chance to do it.
- Store data about all events participants for at least one month. If some of the members become ill shortly after the event, your data will help public health authorities trace people who may have been exposed to COVID-19.
- If a person was isolated during the meeting as a suspected COVID-19 case, other participants should be informed about the accident to monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days and take their temperature twice a day.
Equip your coworking space with:
- closed bins,
- surgery masks,
- liquid soap,
- paper tissues,
- drugs (paracetamol, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, aspirin),
- and digital non-contact IR thermometers to selectively control members' temperature.
Please note that face masks are applied more for the psychological comfort of members than for preventing infection.
A face mask can't be considered an alternative to the homestay for a sick person. Here is some advice from the World Health Organization (WHO) on when and how to use masks.
Ask your members to reduce the number of guests and visitors not to expose the community to risks that can be easily avoided. It would be great to educate and promote members on remote work style showing your own example.
- There are many ways to communicate the message without personal contacts and public meetings. Encourage your members to use messengers, video calls, and e-mail correspondence instead of business meetings.
- Advice members to use a meeting room booking app instead of making reservations directly at the reception.
- Instruct your members and employees that due to the COVID-19 spread anyone with even a mild cough or low-grade fever (37.3 C or more) must stay at home.
- If a member or employee should take medications, such as paracetamol, acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin, they should also stay home/work from home because the above drugs can mask the symptoms of infection.
- Don't stop to communicate and promote the message that people need to stay at home even if they have mild symptoms of COVID-19 through all available channels. Make it clear to employees that these days will be counted as sick leave.
- It's better to arrange transfer to the workplace for community managers and minimize their usage of public transport. Encourage your vendors to do the same for their employees to reduce the virus exposure.
- You residents surely go on business trips, which may be rather risky today. Advise your tenants to consult national travel advice before leaving the country.
In this section, you can find some quotes from coworking spaces located in different countries all over the globe. Get to know what measures do they take to secure their workplaces and members.
SPARKPLUS is one of the leading coworking space networks in Seoul, South Korea. At present they have several thousand members across 12 branches. Located in one of the regions that suffered from coronavirus disease the most, their pieces of advice are undoubtedly valuable for the coworking business community.
Being a member-focused coworking brand, and our respected customer, SPARKPLUS implements advanced technologies to streamline and automate common routines at their locations. Their members are actively using a meeting room booking system, which lets them make a reservation from any place without contacting a community manager directly or coming to the reception desk, which reduces the risk of catching the virus.
Photo of the reception desk at SPARKPLUS.
- SPARKPLUS has asked its tenants to abstain from inviting guests and stopped hosting events from outside the company.
- It is recommended to replace meetings held in public spaces by e-mail communication.
- Cleaning staff disinfects public goods up to four times a day with alcohol.
- The center stopped running events or meetings that are held regularly inside for a while.
Creative States is a growing coworking network of a top of mind flexible workspaces, operational & lifestyle services and community events. Right now they have three locations in Kyiv that include tens of offices for teams of 1-40 people.
The area of the first location, on the 14th floor of ‘Senator’ business center, is about 2,100 sq.m. Its capacity is up to 400 residents.
Creative States provides not only a business space for residents, it has all the necessary facilities for people to have fun and flourish. The network is using Stream newsfeed & communication andcards integration actively to keep their members connected and updated on everything that happens in the community including safety measures related to COVID-19.
Creative States equipped entrances with IR cameras that automatically measure body temperature and alert of fever.
- Creative States canceled the events scheduled by external clients at the locations as well as regular community gatherings.
- Introduced an enhanced cleaning mode of the premises. All common areas are additionally treated with disinfectants. These include door handles, tables, monitors, elevator call buttons, etc.
- Provide face masks and dispensers with an antiseptic for hands at the reception. Disinfectants are available in all common areas: kitchen, bar, lounge area, bathrooms, and near the registration tablet.
- Monitor their residents and, if they see someone with obvious signs of illness, they ask them to put on a face mask and go home. For more accurate identification, they install thermal image cameras in locations and use non-contact thermometers.
- Ask everyone to use an antiseptic when entering the location.
- Provide information on how to recognize a coronavirus and ask whether a guest visited countries with registered cases of COVID-19 during the process of registration.
- Regularly inform residents about the precautions that must be followed, the news in the world and Ukraine on the matter.
AreaTres is a leading entrepreneurial ecosystem and a network of coworking spaces in Buenos Aires. Here are some things they do at AreaTres to reduce the risks of infection.
AreaTres placed hand sanitizers and hygiene notices in popular spots around the coworking area.
- Intensify cleaning routines, continuously disinfecting all surfaces.
- Equip all popular areas with hand sanitizers and handwashing manuals.
- Display health safety information on every display.
- Distribute safety manuals to members physically and electronically.
As the proverb says, health is above wealth. I hope this article has pointed out a lot of tidbits that will help you protect your members' health and your business from another apocalypse.
Simple precautions, common sense, and planning can make a big difference. Get prepared now and don't give COVID-19 a single chance to find its way to your community.
Please mind that when personal contacts are recommended to be minimized or even avoided, it's vitally important to stay connected to your coworking community and efficiently manage your workplace without compromising safety.
If you are ready to share your own tips on how to protect community and coworking business from COVID-19, drop me a line in the comments.