What Will Shared Workspaces be Doing to Keep you Safe After Lockdown?

Date: Tue May 26 Author: Chelliah Nakeeran

As the UK Government announced further measures yesterday, to relax the current lockdown restrictions, and with many businesses beginning to reopen and more ‘relaxing’ measures to come in the coming weeks, will shared workspaces be safe to use after Lockdown?

What is the flexible space industry doing to ensure the compliance with hygiene and contamination control for the many shared space users?

There is no doubt that the way we all work has changed greatly, and probably forever, as the spread of Covid-19 exposed how vulnerable we potentially were, just by going about our daily business and socialising.

Lockdown has caused many to rethink how they want to work post-lockdown, particularly when it comes to commuting and what kind of working environment they wish to work from.

With Furloughing, self-isolation, and employees and business owners adapting to the new reality of home working, many have realised there are many benefits to cutting the long daily commute and that for many, it’s been a positive experience on some levels.

Both employers and employees alike have seen that with modern technologies, such as Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams, it is indeed possible for businesses to function just as well for most, on the new remote model.

So with a growing drive to work at, or closer to home, the use of shared workspaces should be a good idea, allowing the flexibility of working closer to home, yet in professional surroundings and with business facilities; without all the distractions of the home based office that many will have become newly familiar with!

But there are still fears amongst many workers, about using these shared facilities, and a need for reassurance that they are not putting themselves, or their wider families at risk by using them.

The industry has responded quickly to these concerns, with many flexible space operators undertaking full and comprehensive reviews of how they will run their facilities post-lockdown, to give confidence to users that they are indeed safe places to use for conducting their business.

These measures include maintaining social distancing in their premises, so that facility users are able to function within a safe proximity to other space users, this to be within the Government guidelines for what that safe social distance should be, currently set at 2 metres apart, yet with recent research suggesting that 1 metre may indeed be a safe proximity according to the WHO.

Numbers of users of facilities at any given time, is also another important measure operators of flexible spaces are considering, calculating the peak tolerances that need to be observed, so that facilities can maintain social distancing easily and not get too overcrowded to maintain this.

For many new or existing users of shared spaces, one of the main concerns is the common areas of the buildings, these may be lifts, kitchens, breakout areas, restrooms…etc. and how these are going to be kept safe when other people are using them?

Much has been discussed about surface contamination in recent weeks, with the American CDC, stating that transmission through surfaces is less of a threat, as Covid-19 is primarily spread from person to person via respiratory droplets.

That aside, space operators are not taking any chances, and are putting in place robust plans for hygiene and infection control including regular regimens of cleaning and disinfecting, making hand sanitisers available in common areas and fully cleaning each work area between each client visiting.

These are the same challenges that any food/ drink retail outlet will face in the coming weeks as they reopen to some form of normality, yet it is likely that food outlets such as cafés, bars and restaurants will face a much greater challenge due to the harder to control numbers and much greater use of common areas and facilities.

Shared space operators may have an edge here, in that they have much greater control of their internal environments and user access control, to enable a greater degree of hygiene and viral agent protection.

As well as the many unseen ways that operators will be assisting users to maintain scrupulously clean facilities, they also plan to have overt reminders in place at key areas within their buildings, signs, stickers, floor mats etc.. to remind users of the basic requirements of hygiene and physical distancing, to ensure that the strategies for limiting any potential contamination are, as much as possible, adhered to over the coming months when perhaps people begin to have a less ‘alert’ attitude to the threat.

FlexSA, the Flexible Space Association, the leading UK body for representing shared spaces, will be spearheading the move towards a safe and successful future across the industry, the newly published Code of Conduct sets the highest standards for the flexible workspace industry and states that members will ‘Comply with all necessary legislative and regulatory requirements which are applicable to their business’.

This in practice, for users means that the whole membership is committed to working with Government, Scientists and medical advisers to ensure that the future for shared workspaces is secured by ensuring the client-base feel safe and secure whilst using any flexible spaces.

Back to the current situation, of millions of small business owners and employees looking for a future of more convenient working on their own terms; it’s very likely that the future will look like a more blended approach, some time is spent at home, some in shared workspaces and with less time spent in large head office buildings.

It looks like a very bright and safe future for both users and operators alike if the measures a fully rolled out and universally adopted.

Thanks for supporting our petition. Result!

Date: Tue May 5 Author: Chelliah Nakeeran

The government has recently decided to provide grants for businesses with shared workspaces.

This was as a result of significant pressure brought about by our petition, along with other voices across industry, highlighting the unfairness of grants not applying to a large section of businesses – particularly those working from shared workspaces.

The statement on the Gov.uk website:

‘A discretionary fund has been set up to accommodate certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme.

This additional fund is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs. We are asking local authorities to prioritise businesses in shared spaces, regular market traders, small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief, and bed and breakfasts that pay council tax rather than business rates. But local authorities may choose to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need. The allocation of funding will be at the discretion of local authorities.’

You can read the full article here

The £617 million being made available represents an additional 5% uplift to the £12.33 billion funding previously announced for the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund (RHLGF).

Check with your local authority to apply.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those who added their voice to our petition, or who took time to support the cause in other ways to make grants fairer for small businesses working from shared workspaces. This money will really help many businesses stay afloat in these very difficult times. THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT!


Date: Fri May 1 Author: Chelliah Nakeeran

Barclays boss, Jes Staley recently commented, that in his opinion, having thousands of bank workers in big expensive city offices ‘may be a thing of the past’

There is no doubt that the current situation has caused many people on both sides of the employer/ staff divide to question what was, before Coronavirus was a reality, and how they will choose to carry out their work in the future.

Not least in this reckoning, is WHERE people choose to work. Jes Staley went on further, to declare that Barclays were having to rethink the bank’s long-term ‘location strategy’ – how they would accommodate different working patterns and remote work locations in the future (Barclays currently have 70,000 of their global workforce working from home, due to the Coronavirus measures).

So what will the future look like for a modern workforce, post the Coronavirus pandemic?

To answer this question, it’s wise to consider the many opinions of normal people who have switched to working from home, from a larger central office.

One can pick up very quickly, that for many, lockdown has actually been a more positive working experience, as the pressure of a long daily commute, overcrowded buses and trains, traffic chaos on motorways, pollution, road-rage and  public transport delays…(to name but a few), have become an ever more distant memory.

Do we want to go back to what was before? Although some are happy to go back to the status quo that was, others are far more reticent and have taken readily and enthusiastically to home working.

In a recent interview for BBC Scotland, career coach, Adrian Marsh stated that; “For the employee, the number one thing that people love is the flexible schedule, he said. You don’t have to be tied into the 9-5.

“Some people love the fact that you can work from anywhere, so maybe you take yourself off for a long weekend, but you do a bit of work on the Friday in that location. And some people find working from home is nicer than working in cramped office environments.”

Adrian went on to mention the benefits to employers from a reduction in office costs, as well as improved productivity rates from happier workers and longer retention of staff.


Flexible Shared Workspaces

For many freelancers and contractors, flexible remote working was the norm, long before Coronavirus, self-isolation and lockdown.

But even sole traders and the self-employed have had to make many adjustments to home working, with the closure of many of their regular haunts, in the form of cafés, coffee shops and shared workspaces.

So will the working from smaller, shared workspaces become the norm, post-lockdown for many more of the city and office based workers?

If anything has been proven during the lockdown, and much to the surprise of many employers, is the fact that on the whole it’s been successful and business continuity, even improvement in some cases, has been experienced.

A recent article in The Guardian, reported that; ‘As governments across the world have placed their citizens on lockdown, downloads of video conferencing apps have soared to record highs and the companies behind them have seen their share prices rise while the rest of the global stock market tanks.’

Ironically, given the current situation and the post-COVID-19 problems alluded to above, Zoom’s founder, Eric Yuan first came up with his idea for video-conferencing while at university in China in the 1990s, when he would travel by train for 10 hours to see his then-girlfriend, now his wife.

“I detested those rides,” “I used to imagine other ways I could visit my girlfriend without travelling — those daydreams eventually became the basis for Zoom.”

It’s likely that many employees, contractors and freelancers, as well as directors themselves will be looking towards other working solutions when Coronavirus is over, maybe a blended approach to working will be the solution, so a portion of work at home, some in the office, and some at the many shared office locations that are nearer to home?

Professional shared workspaces, nearer to a home location, may actually be the ideal solution for many in the future months, giving workers a place to work and have the essential social contact lockdown has robbed from so many, yet affording non-crowded, quiet and easy to use facilities often lacking in the home environment, and certainly lacking in crowded coffee shops and cafes with their accompanying less-than-reliable Wi-Fi signal.

Back to Barclays and boss, Jes Staley who commented, “There will be a long-term adjustment to our location strategy, the notion of putting 7,000 people in the building may be a thing of the past.”

So if other corporate entities take on the same stance as Barclays, we could see a very different business landscape in the future, as we see many more people choosing flexible work options, in or closer to home.

Whatever the outcome, it doesn’t look like it’s on the cards to return to what was the ‘norm’ only a few short weeks ago. We’ll wait and see with great interest how the situation unfolds over the coming months.

Bludesks.com is an online platform where users can search and find local workspaces for a few hours, to continuous monthly use. It is a pay-as-you-use service, offering commitment-free workspace hire in the UK and across many other countries.

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