Coworking Survey Europe

Coworking Spaces

How Coworking Spaces Are Getting Their Business Up & Running Again

St. Oberholz: A coworking space in Berlin in May 2020.

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Are the measures suitable?

This question is repeatedly being answered in a new way. Many regulations have been developed in recent weeks under enormous time pressure and with a lower level of knowledge than we have today. Our understanding of the virus is constantly improving, and the social threat posed by the virus is changing. Accordingly, regulations are also evolving on what workplaces should look like.

If the virus threat to the general public decreases, preventive and curative measures will probably be more targeted and less restrictive for the general public. In this case, the measures (e.g. contact tracing) would affect individual people and places rather than all sections of society or entire industry sectors. At the local level, for example, super spread events will be followed up more closely and the people and places affected could be quarantined.

Regulatory requirements (“must”) differ from regulatory recommendations (“can”).

Governmental regulations or laws specify minimum requirements that can be sanctioned in the event of non-compliance. Recommendations are based on what would be desirable, if the possibilities for it exist. In other words, it’s up to you to decide whether and how they are suitable for you and your members.

You can give feedback to the authorities on individual restrictions while still adhering to the law. This is particularly recommended when regulations cause considerable damage or put you at a disadvantage compared to competitors without actually reducing the spread of the virus.

Am I using suitable terms?

Ask yourself what you really want to say and achieve by using certain terms. A coworking space is a place where people want to work in a safe, but also enjoyable and friendly atmosphere. Words are suitable that both respect the health situation and provide orientation while not appearing commanding.

There are also terms that can cause misunderstandings and thus lead to undesirable consequences. Many current guidelines recommend “social distancing”, although what they actually mean is greater “physical distance”. For this reason, the latter term is more appropriate.

Why? Imposed social distancing does not stop a virus and can damage people’s mental health. The consequential costs of virus-related restrictions alone can trigger new social distribution conflicts. Societies in many countries are already highly polarized and social distancing may lead to further alienation from each other.

The catchy phrase “the new normal” also holds considerable potential for misunderstanding. Many restrictions were and still are associated with the suspension of basic constitutional rights.

From a health perspective, these measures are understandable. However, they are an extraordinary reaction to an extraordinary situation - and far from normal. Otherwise words like “exceptional", "extraordinary", "abnormal"  "unusual" or "unprecedented" would not exist.

It also could be misleading to use 'the new normal' for a changing situation with ongoing changing norms and rules The normality is relatively stable and changes very slowly over time. In addition, anyone who generally describes the restrictions as “normal” can subconsciously place other essential human rights in the abnormal realm.

The “new normal” or "next normal" will begin once the situation won't change that often at short notice and normal basic rights are restored. Until then, we repeatedly need to readjust the balance between safety and freedom. Life needs both.

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Where to find more check lists and examples?

Reopening Guidance (CDC)

The Return to Office Playbook (WORC), Back to Business (Pacific Workplaces), Prevent Covid-19 (Bar D'Office), Checklist (Open Sensors), Covid-19-Readiness-Plan (Workbar), Updated Operating Standards (Convene)

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This article deals with the views and reactions of coworking spaces to some questions that operators discussed in online conferences hosted by GCUC, GCF, GWA or Coworking Convos. This list is not exhaustive, nor does it reflect the full range of measures and their effects (especially not financially). What’s more, not all operators will agree with these views or reactions to the same extent.

The article is not intended to replace consultations. Serious consultation takes into account individual circumstances, which vary from coworking space to coworking space.

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This article addresses the following questions:

Why aren’t all (former) members returning immediately? & Welcoming back members
How are working conditions in coworking spaces changing? & Are guidelines being observed?
Are the measures and terms suitable?

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Related article: 

How Coworking Spaces Are Navigating Through the Coronavirus Crisis

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