Hard to believe it has been eight weeks since we opened and closed our Platte County flagship project, Cowork KCI. It would be easy to sulk about the timing of holding a ribbon cutting on the same day our Mayor shut down the city. But that’s not me. That’s not my partner.

Instead we have embraced the spirit of entrepreneurism. Each day we research world-wide changes and trends in the shared-space industry.

So for those of you who are tired of working from home (I know I am), but who are also concerned about virus spikes as a result of returning to the office (I know I am), below are things to think about as you contemplate returning to, or selecting, a shared-space facility.

First and foremost, evaluate how operators manage their physical space and the steps they take to protect their community.

Admittedly, my members have accused me of being compulsive about every detail in our facilities. Yes, I’m the owner who incessantly wipes down conference tables. I even angle bar chairs to look more inviting.

Guess what? Moving forward I will be even more focused and more determined to make cleanliness and sanitization a priority. And, I will train my staff to do the same.

Simply stated: Cowork management/owners first priority must be protecting members, guests and staff in the post-pandemic era. If you are considering a coworking facility, ask questions and make sure the operator is instituting the following guidelines:

Monitor and Disinfect Meeting Rooms

In addition to regular cleaning, conference and meeting room surfaces should be wiped down before and after meetings. This responsibility should not be your responsibility. Instead a designated staff person should be tasked with this function.

Community areas

Ask about all gathering places (including kitchens). How often are they wiped down? A specific schedule, just like the cleaning schedules posted in Target bathrooms, should be set and written into a formal policy.

Workstations and common area furniture.

Is furniture arranged to permit a minimum of 6 feet between people, allowing for safe conversation places? Written guidelines should state only one person per multiple seating furniture such as couches and benches.

Masks and protective supplies.

Are masks available? Is hand sanitizer placed throughout the space? What are the specific requirements of using masks? Is public signage encouraging healthy habits as recommended by the CDC placed throughout the space?

Open desks

How is this managed? Is this area closed or have privacy screens been provided to comply with social distancing? Also, if you have concerns, is the facility willing to work with you to provide you the safety and security you need?

Be sure to check out how sign-ins, scheduling and payment are being handled. Is the space using technology to accommodate non-contact procedures?

Guests

Some cities require that visitors are limited or not allowed in membership spaces until latter phases of reopening are enacted. Be sure to inquire about these policies.

Clearly your needs may be different than they were a few months ago. Are you interested in virtual training? Do you need help with digital skills? Are you a student or job seeker who only needs a part-time office? We suggest that you have a conversation with each space to determine if they offer services that meet your specific needs.

Many of us have discovered that working remotely isn’t easy. Not all of us are cut out for working alone. We need the stimulation of being around others. If that is the case with you, I encourage you to consider flex spaces such as coworking.

Or if you’ve taken a liking to working from home, but no longer want to conduct your meetings at coffee shops, many coworking spaces offer virtual or limited membership options. Being part of a coworking community is invigorating and can be a safe and healthy workplace environment.

Dedicated to building community through supporting economic development and business growth, EnCorps Partners, LLC works with developers, city officials and small businesses to create sustainable flex office spaces tailored to community needs. For more information, contact Robert L. Curland at Robert@EnCorpsPartners.com or call 816.376.0088.

Robert Curland
Robert Curland