The rise of co-working spaces was accelerated by the recession of 2008, a time when many people were forced to find work, downsize companies, freelance or start a new business from their home office. Once the dust settled and the economy stabilised, the honeymoon period of working from home had worn off, and so co-working spaces really came into their own.
Now we have another threat to the economy and our normal working lives, in the shape of COVID-19. The corporate imperative to maximise return by overpopulating spaces, meaning that some of the biggest players now have the most tenuous futures. This leaves space for coworking specialists to emerge post COVID-19 as industry leaders, evolving in favour of member experience.
Working shoulder to shoulder in poorly lit spaces with recycled air will no longer be attractive, given the current focus on health and social distancing. Hot-desking on a large scale will now be considered a health risk. The focus will further turn to wellbeing in the workplace, not just fitness classes and beautiful surroundings, but at a more fundamental level; air quality, cleanliness, natural light and personal space amongst other key drivers.
Tania Adir, cofounder and CEO of Uncommon
The COVID-19 crisis will force swift and permanent changes in work culture, and at Uncommon we were already ahead of the curve when it comes to healthy, spacious working environments. In response to the recent pandemic, we are creating the safest workspace in London by investing in premium technology, above and beyond the industry standards. Thermal cameras at the entrances to our spaces will help identify anyone entering the building with a higher than normal body temperature. We aim to build trust and comfort for our members through screening and transparency.
Hospital grade sanitising, such as that used by TFL and the NHS, will be carried out across our private offices and communal areas, and this procedure reaches and settles on every surface that may otherwise be missed (such as keyboards). The cleaning solution keeps surfaces virus free for up to 30 days, and is proven effective on COVID-19 as well as being completely safe for people, food, plants and the environment.
Image: A new cleaning solution to tackle COVID-19 is safe for use around people, food and plants.
Following government guidelines, we are actively promoting a culture of awareness for our members, team and visitors across all spaces. Hand sanitiser is available from the Front of House teams and in all high traffic, frequently used touch areas, and our cleaning teams are implementing a new routine to focus on high traffic areas, using the most effective cleaning products.
Staggering working shifts and travelling off-peak has been advised by the government as a way to socially distance – and to aid this our spaces are open 24/7 and we’ve extended our Team working hours from 8am-5pm to 7am-8pm. Our Team members have all gone through enhanced health & safety training in order to provide guidance to our members.
We’re already well known for air quality at Uncommon, but in response to COVID-19 this has been improved further with the installation of top-class Sayoli UV-C devices, which sterilise the air by effectively killing aerial antigens. We continue to integrate our biophilic design across all spaces, using plants to naturally enhance air quality.