We have spoken to various co-working spaces to find out what steps they have taken to ensure social distancing and a safe working environment.

people in shared workspace

The past few months have been a challenging time for shared workspaces in the UK, who had to close their premises when the coronavirus lockdown was enforced in March.

With the lockdown now beginning to ease and with people gradually returning to work, co-working spaces have a new challenge – how to reopen safely and ensure social distancing for their tenants?

To find out more about this we got in touch with several co-working spaces and asked them what measures they had put in place so they could safety reopen.

Cubo

Cubo offer shared workspaces to freelancers and small businesses in Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield. They have different packages – Hot Desking, Designated Desk, Private Office or Studio – all of which come with access to meeting rooms, private telephone booths, gyms, chill out rooms and more.

We spoke to Rebecca Brough, the Managing Director of Cubo, to find out what measures they had taken to reopen safely:

Have you reopened yet following the lockdown? If not, when are you planning on reopening?

Yes, we are open.

What measures have you put in place to ensure social distancing can be adhered to in your workspace?

One way systems where achievable, hand sanitiser stations throughout the building, sanitiser wipes throughout the building, tissues, social distancing reminders (posters throughout the building). Tables and chairs have been spread out so there is more distance between them. At Cubo in Derby we have a large office on the ground floor that is vacant so we have opened it up to allow there to be more room for the co-working space.

Have you made any other changes in terms of hygiene e.g. hand wash stations, protective screens, PPE for staff etc?

Sanitiser stations, sanitiser wipes, hand soap at each sink, paper towels to dry hands at kitchen sinks. We have offered PPE for staff if they wish to use it.

What have been your biggest challenges during the period of lockdown?

I would say the only challenge has been ordering sanitiser stations as they are so much in demand, and are either out of stock or long waiting times.

What do you think your biggest challenges are going forward?

Our biggest challenge will be to get the members to come back to work, once they do we are sure that they will feel safe and will continue to keep coming back to Cubo, it’s just getting over the initial hurdle.

To find out more about Cubo, visit: https://cubowork.com/

Works Social

Works Social is a contemporary co-working space based in Nottingham city centre, offering everything from a virtual office address all the way up to full offices for small businesses and teams.

Works Social

We spoke to Han at Works Social about how they had been adapting their workspace to safely welcome back tenants.

Have you reopened yet following the lockdown? If not, when are you planning on reopening?

We are currently open for member-only access. Throughout June, will be remaining closed for visitors and public events but are maintaining a membership waiting list and taking no obligation micro-event bookings for the future. We will be reassessing our policy on visitors and public events based on the government guidelines from July.

What measures have you put in place to ensure social distancing can be adhered to in your workspace?

For our dedicated desk members, we have implemented 2 metre safe distance desk and floor markings to help members stay at a (Works) social safe distance. We have rejigged things so that no one is working opposite each other and if side by side, they are 2 metres apart.

For our flexible desk members, we have upgraded the functionality of our member portal to enable members to book hot desks ahead of time so if they know they will be coming in, they can book their preferred bench desk or pod and others will know it’s reserved for them. Hygiene products are in place at each workstation to enable users to self-sanitise the workspace before and after using.

We’ve also implemented a 1 in 1 out kitchen policy, 4 person meeting room limit and have the CPNI COVID-19 Workplace Actions campaign posters displayed prominently reminding members to keep 2m distance, wash hands and desks regularly, make meetings virtual where possible and importantly, say if something is not OK.

Works Social COVID desk plan

Have you made any other changes in terms of hygiene e.g. hand wash stations, protective screens, PPE for staff etc?

Here at Works Social, sustainability is really important to us. We run on green energy, use motion sensored LED lighting in communal areas, boiling hot water taps, recycled and zero waste office supplies where possible and most recently, installed a wormery ensuring typical office kitchen waste is repurposed into nutrient rich compost for our office greenery – they’re pretty hungry at the moment 🐛 and looking forward to their coworkers returning 🙂

We took this downtime as a great opportunity to reassess the sustainability of our hygiene products and have replaced all cleaning products with hypoallergenic, environmentally responsible and ethically sound alternatives throughout. This includes anti-bacterial hand gel, anti-bacterial hand-wash and environmentally friendly sanitiser, blue roll and tissue disposal located at check-in, all bathroom and kitchens and every print station on each floor to enable members to easily self-sanitise effectively.

We have also increased our professional cleaning schedule with social enterprise Radiant Cleaners, to ensure all communal areas and high touch points are kept spick and span!

Plans for the future include installing ‘touch-free’ switches in the bathroom and kitchen areas and to develop the functionality of our on-site app to allow members and visitors to ‘sign-in’ using their own mobiles.

Whilst perspex is in short supply and to avoid the environmental burden of more plastic, we have not installed screens for now but should social distancing remain the norm, we will look into clear screen alternatives between desks to re-establish face to face workspace.

Sanitiser gel

What have been your biggest challenges during the period of lockdown?

We have tried to keep the vibe alive virtually and maintain our co-working community online during lockdown, including community lunches and happy hours via Zoom, members shout-outs on social media, a dedicated Slack channel and regular communications to keep everyone in the loop with our efforts and ambitions in relation to the crisis, however, the biggest challenge remains not being able to convene together. From a work or social perspective, one of the major benefits of working in a co-working space is the planned or impromptu interactions with your co-workers whether it be for inspiration, support, collaboration or celebration. However rapidly we have adapted to tech savvy ways of living our lives remotely, the need for human interaction will be a harder habit to break.

What do you think your biggest challenges are going forward?

Already champions of the flexible working movement, at the end of last year, we collaborated with flexible working advocates Dispace and Big Old House to conduct a #futureofwork survey that identified flexible working was the key for delivering growth and productivity for businesses and improving people’s wellbeing in the future.

We couldn’t have known then we were only a couple of months ‘ahead of the curve’ but the results are perhaps more relevant now than ever.

Already working in that space, our biggest challenge now is how we can best help individuals and businesses new to the concept adapt to flexible working and how, beyond our current venue and model, we can service the needs of the remote worker more widely. Watch this space…

Find out more about Works Social here: https://www.workssocial.co/

MinorOak

We also spoke to Minor Oak, another co-working space located in Nottingham offering virtual social workspaces and meeting rooms.

They sent us their full COVID-19 reopening plan:

MinorOak reopening plan

Find out more about MinorOak: https://www.minoroak.com/

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