1 August

Coworking and COVID-19: A Pivotal Role in the Transition Back to Work

As businesses and public services begin to open their doors again, many companies have been faced with new health and safety obstacles. While our desire to return to regular business is strong, the reality is that our workplace dynamics may never be the same “regular” again. There seems to be a new norm emerging – one that involves careful consideration for our work teams and communities as we attempt to arrive at the safest and most innovative solutions between pre- and post-pandemic business operations. Coworking spaces are poised to play a pivotal role in this transition back to work.

Navigating the Transition Back to Work

While the world awaits the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, most workspaces will be utilizing at least some form of modified workforce routine. For many, this includes continued distance working and time away from the office. For others, this could mean a return to the traditional workspace but with added safety measures like facemask and continual sanitizing requirements. No matter what the transition back to work looks like to your business circumstances, navigating them is certainly a break from all of our previously familiarized work routines and will bring with it a series of unknown obstacles.

“Tough choices will come up and a leader must be empowered to drive the effort across individual functions and businesses. Permanent change will also require exceptional change-management skills and constant pivots based on how well the effort is working over time,” explains organization consulting group, the McKinsey & Company Organization in their article, ‘Reimagining the Office and Work Life after COVID-19.’

Pivotal Role of Coworking Spaces During the Transition

Over the course of the past few months, one constant has remained true: those who best navigate the continual barrage of change required of them by this pandemic have been best situated to adapt and continue on. Though there has been no one tried and true way for businesses to achieve this transitional success, flexibility and adaptability have proven to be crucial pieces of the puzzle. In other words, those who continually monitor the changes and make adjustments as needed, have shown the best rate of successful navigation.

With so many demands and changes being placed on the global workforce, a large portion of career individuals have found themselves working remotely from their offices. The health and safety risks of regular office space functionality has become too great for many entrepreneurs, leading them to utilize video conferencing and other modern technology that allowed for distance working. For some, this has been a surprisingly successful switch. For others, it has proven to be more difficult than expected. That’s where coworking spaces have come in.

Coworking Spaces Become the Hybrid Choice

Millions of workers around the world have found themselves thrust into combining their home lives with their work lives as they carved out a space at home to continue their careers at a safe distance. In many ways, it’s brought about a major enlightenment that distance working is not only possible, but highly profitable and more productive as employees are afforded greater flexibility with their work/home schedules. It’s also brought with it a realization, however, that for many families, combining work and home isn’t always optimal, let alone possible.

For many reasons – children and family dynamics, dual schedules, available technology, available space – working from home can be more of a challenge than a blessing. Yet, at the same time, returning to a traditional office still carries with it a set of immense health risks that employees simply can’t take. This is why a flexible, hybrid choice like coworking, has been gaining momentum among entrepreneurs everywhere.

Why Coworking Is the Logical Choice for Employers

Coworking spaces have been providing a much needed “happy medium” for many employers and employees by offering simple, flexible solutions to those distance working obstacles. In many cases, coworking offices can give employers a chance to provide their employees with more convenient meeting places, smaller and safer conference rooms, critical technology, as well as a space to work that is primed for optimum productivity. Essentially, coworking spaces are able to provide everything a traditional office space can provide, but in a safer and more convenient location for those who are distance working.

In addition to the more obvious employee benefits, coworking spaces are becoming the logical choice during this transitional phase (and beyond) for a plethora of reasons. Their flexibility ensures they can fill whatever need your business may have – whether it’s simply a virtual office with phone and mail services, or office space memberships or conference and meeting room rentals for needed in-person activities – but that isn’t the only reason they are so appealing. Coworking spaces can offer a longer-term compromise that allows work team members the ability to work at their own pace, as well as providing a financial savings from no longer needing to maintain a single physical brick and mortar space yourself.

Shifting the Traditional Workplace Dynamic

By shifting the workplace dynamic from the more rigid constraints of years past to the more employee-centric post-pandemic business structures we’re experiencing today, many new ideals are emerging. We are seeing the benefits and pitfalls of distance working for a slew of business ventures that would have never considered it in the past, as well as finding immediate ways to adapt and thrive in this hybrid work society that has come to be the new “norm.”

In the midst of this workplace shift, coworking spaces have gone from being trendy and new, to becoming one of the most pivotal resources available to entrepreneurs of all walks of business. Through the wake of this global health crisis, coworking spaces have been providing essential solutions that are not only allowing for a successful transitional period but are now poised to completely change the way we operate business moving forward. Coworking is the new hybrid solution for businesses to emerge from this pandemic with a continually thriving workforce well into the future.

4 May

5 Tips for Getting Productivity Back on Track After an Extended Leave

With businesses and venues beginning to open back up for operations in the near future following the COVID-19 stay at home orders, many entrepreneurs are looking to hit the ground running to make up for the time away. After spending several weeks working remotely, however, many business owners may be wondering just how to best transition their teams back to working on site again. Though the nation has proven true perseverance in such an unprecedented time, such a degree of change has never been maneuvered before, leaving many of us anxious to get things back on track quickly (and smoothly) as soon as things are deemed safe for their return. So just how does one go about getting productivity back on track after an extended leave?

Getting Productivity Back on Track

When it comes to getting your business operations back in full swing, it’s not as simple as returning to work and expecting things to magically go back to pre-social distancing mode right away. In fact, things may never get back to the same norm that was experienced before the entire world adapted to the pandemic by implementing work-from-home measures. There will likely be many obstacles and bumps along the way as entrepreneurs attempt to get back in the black and transition their workforce practices back to traditional work environments.

“It’s far from clear quite what normal will look like after COVID-19, but it seems likely that our desire to trek into the office will be tested after a prolonged period of acclimatization towards remote working from both workers and managers alike,” explains Forbes.com.

The best plan of attack for smoothing the transition and getting things going as quickly as possible is to outline a comprehensive yet flexible objective for the process. It’s important to consider the circumstances surrounding not only your business, but your business team, and to maintain a certain level of flexibility as things begin to move from one dynamic to the next. To help, here are 5 tips for helping to get productivity back on track with the return to work nearing:

1 – Create a Phased Plan

With so many unknowns and uncertainties surrounding the phasing out of social distancing, a gradual approach to reopening traditional operations seems the safest choice. Though many may be gearing up to ramp productivity 100% from day one, that may not be the best approach to getting things back on track effectively.

It’s important to create a phased plan that will account for the difficulties your team members and clients have been dealing with during social distancing. With so many demands on them to adjust to working from home, the best plan for returning will likely be in smaller phases that allow time to plan for schedule changes and juggling routines.

2 – Get Feedback from Your Team Frequently

Just as we’ve been doing for weeks while we work distantly, staying in contact with team members as you plan for the return is going to be critical to keeping the transition smooth. Try to keep regular meetings and conferences with partners, department heads, managers and other team members in order to make sure everyone is in the loop as far as communicating the phased plan being generated for the return to normal operations.

During these regular communications, be sure to gauge the feelings and concerns of your colleagues and coworkers. This is an excellent opportunity to get an up-front read on what your team will need from you in order to successfully transition from remote working scenarios. Be sure to consider these issues in the coming weeks to keep schedule delays and conflicts from affecting your increasing productivity plans.

3 – Be Clear About Expectations and Protocol

Another critical component of your communication efforts with your team will be to convey any and all policies and expectations that will be set into effect as things move away from distance working and back to traditional spaces. In order for your team to be able to plan for the transition, they must know first what to expect, and second, when to expect these changes to occur.

One of the fastest ways to derail your productivity efforts is with a breakdown in communication. When colleagues and employees aren’t adequately informed of timelines and procedures, it can cause major stressors among already struggling households with multiple schedule changes in place. In other words, you need to keep your plan clear and concise and it needs to be communicated as quickly as possible to everyone involved.

4 – Flexibility and Resources

With workers everywhere adapting to strict distancing regulations and abrupt cancellations of practically every public interaction available – school and work included – our lives were turned upside-down over the past several weeks with no discernable notice. If anything, it has proven our ability to persevere in the face of adversity, but that doesn’t mean it has been easy – not by any stretch of the imagination.

Now, as things slowly begin their return to a pre-pandemic norm, it’s important for employers of all walks to take into consideration the degree of chaos and change their team has been facing during this time. By understanding that most households have multiple work schedules and a sudden change in childcare schedules and education as well, employers will have a better sense of the level of flexibility that will be needed to transition away from working remotely again.

5 – Be Open to Change

At the end of the day, it must be said that this pandemic has ultimately shown both employees and employers that working remotely is not only possible in many cases, but preferable as well. While not all situations fall under this category, many employees have now seen that it is entirely possible to efficiently complete their job while working from home – a fact which also fits nicely with many home dynamics as well.

“Remote working has become a necessity for the majority of workers, and it’s shown businesses – some of which might have been skeptical about allowing staff to work from home – that it is possible to maintain productivity and communication,” explains Andrew Roughan, managing director for Plexal in an interview with Forbes.com.

As an alternative solution to choosing one extreme or the other (working from home or an abrupt return to full-time office work), coworking has become a viable consideration for many employers as well. By offering employees a professionally rented workspace to increase productivity but with the convenience of a shorter commute from home, coworking spaces are proving to be a valuable transitional asset as well.

Essentially, to reach optimal productivity and keep things running smoothly as the pandemic requirements phase out, employers need to not only remain flexible, but also open to change. Each scenario will be different, but it’s important not to entirely rule out distance working – via from home or from coworking spaces – from your phases. This situation may very well permanently change the way we approach the structure of the workplace to a model that’s much more centered on the needs and availability of its team members – something which could prove invaluable in terms of productivity going forward.