Coronavirus (COVID-19): What Coworking Spaces Should Know

In the midst of a global panic about coronavirus, it seems like the official guidance still tends to be “wash your hands and stay away from sick people,” but when you’re in charge of a coworking space, with clients and their guests coming in from various locations and spending most of their day in your space, it’s hard to know how to help keep germs (coronavirus or otherwise) away.

Here are the key things you should keep in mind when it comes to the coronavirus:

Make it easy for sick clients to stay home.

The CDC is encouraging businesses to actively encourage sick employees to stay home, especially if they have a fever or respiratory symptoms. While you can’t control your members’ sick time policies, you might consider asking your members what they need to be able to effectively work from home if they are sick. Whether it’s making sure they can connect to meetings virtually or making sure clients know about team communication and management tools that might help them effectively help their group work from home. Make sure you’ve set up procedures so that your staff doesn’t have to come to work sick, either.

If members do come to work sick, the CDC recommends finding a way to separate them from everyone else—either in a meeting room, a private office, or whatever your space can accommodate.

Practice Social Distancing

As coronavirus continues to spread, many organizations have canceled events and state governments have mandated school closures in a conscious effort to reduce close contact between individuals. The CDC has issued guidelines for "mitigation strategies"  to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, including the practice of "social distancing" a term applied to specific actions taken to reduce the spread of infectious diseases. "We're bringing people out of coworking spaces and putting them into unused private offices," said Kris Elliott, COO, Novel Coworking.

Clean everything.

Assuming hand sanitizer hasn’t sold out near you yet, the CDC recommends using hand sanitizer that is 60-95% alcohol, so try to keep as many bottles around as possible. Posting or emailing out reminders about handwashing (20 seconds, or it doesn’t count!) is also a good idea.

Additionally, block off some extra time for cleaning. Pay particular attention to kitchen areas as well as high-traffic areas—especially door handles and other surfaces people touch frequently. If possible, make disinfectant wipes easily available for clients to use on their workstations and keyboards throughout the day.

Kane Willmott, CEO, iQ Offices is taking it a step further. "For the time being, in an effort to minimize the risk of cross contamination, we've temporary suspended our kitchen food and beverage service.  We are offering prepackaged food and beverage options to support our Members and have communicated best practices for a clean and safe environment

Consider sending a travel notice.

If your members or staff tend to travel frequently, especially internationally, consider emailing out a reminder of the CDC’s Travel Guidelines, which is being updated frequently as information becomes available. This would also be a good time to remind employees that if they or someone in their household are diagnosed with coronavirus, they need to inform you immediately. If this happens, you’ll want to contact the CDC for guidance immediately.

For more information on risk assessment for coronavirus, see the CDC.

Monitor reported cases.

While government officials are still encouraging the public not to panic, it’s a good idea to monitor reported cases, watching especially for cases in your area. You can monitor reported cases in the U.S. here, and worldwide cases here.

Overall, just be sure your clients know how to access what they need to work from home in the event that you need to close your space.

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