Now more than ever, the coworking industry is being pushed to reinvent itself and push its boundaries even further. Operators are working hard to find the best models and approach to go through this unchartered time and discover what the future of coworking might look like after COVID. But there are no answers and no right or wrong either, not when we’ve never been in a position such as this.
In an ECA podcast, Miryana Stancheva discusses some potential scenarios and situations coworking establishments could be facing and what it could look like after the pandemic. Miryana is a psychologist and has been a researcher in the coworking world for the last seven years now. She currently works for OfficeRnD and has worked in many coworking spaces. She is particularly interested in the behaviours now, that coworking spaces are adopting amid the COVID-19 havoc.
Often a crisis can be an opportunity for change and ingenuity. A chance to come up with something new, to find an alternative solution or to create a fresh identity. Becoming a cohesive ecosystem with a feeling of community and belonging like it was at the beginning of the coworking movement is a high possibility, Miryana predicts.
For coworking establishments that manage to survive, there is a multitude of things to consider; what additional precautions need to be taken to ensure safety, how is this conveyed and maintained by coworkers and how should desks be rearranged to facilitate social distancing? And, what impact does this have on the bottom line, as that is how these spaces generate income?
However, coworking is not only about the space and the facilities, but also largely about the community. Perhaps this sense of comradery will draw people back to coworking establishments despite the changes it will need to undergo. The balance needs to be met with generating revenue from the desks, and building the community and maintaining this momentum for the indefinite future.
The bonuses like digital memberships and online coworking are still a wise approach Miryana adds. When restrictions start lifting, catering for the members who will not be making their way hastily back to the coworking spaces, will still be benefiting from this sense of community and connection. Having the option available to those individuals who would like to return to their collaborative spaces or those who would prefer the online experience, for the time being, allows you to reach more individuals with a wider variety of solutions.
Miryana is optimistic about the future of coworking post COVID, from the research she’s been doing there is a lot of positivity, rebuilding and collaborating being discussed – but she cautions spaces out there to be realistic and also plan for the worst-case scenario.
As for what her hopes are for coworking spaces in the ‘new world’, Miryana would like to see these hubs again become places that gather people who are self-motivated. People who are in the industry for the passion of it and who knows what the benefits of coworking spaces are.