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How coworking will fare up in post-COVID era: Strategies and prospects in the new normal

Apart from raising environmental awareness, the coronavirus pandemic has raised numerous questions about how the world will change from now.

December 22, 2020 / 07:39 AM IST
Representative Image

Representative Image


The pandemic outbreak has disrupted our approach to life and the way we work. It has also hit the business cycle globally, leading to massive slowdown. However, as appalling as the crisis is at this moment, we are also anticipating a huge turnaround across economies.

Though people across nations have massively adapted and experienced remote working during the lockdown, as soon as the situation normalises, companies would lay more emphasis on cost optimization and prefer flexible workspaces, rather than traditional office spaces. Most corporates would avoid capital expenditures and look forward to co-working facilities, to accelerate its adoption rate and expansion in the coming time.

This COVID-19 pandemic has put to test the resilience of business models, the resourcefulness of teams, and responsible cash management of companies, across industries. There has been a paradigm shift in the work culture, where remote working has gained prominence. With coworking firms navigating towards the new normal, not all remote working employees have access to the productive workplace environment at home. This is what makes co-working spaces more appealing, even during this time of crisis.

Many businesses will now seize the opportunity to refocus on their working arrangements to provide more flexibility to their employees than ever before; especially considering the benefits of productivity, engagement and agility that a co-working space can offer. This will push up the demand curve for a shared economy. However, given the unexpected post pandemic era, co-working firms have to revisit their plan of action and re-strategise the approach, to implement new standards to revive customer confidence.

Large enterprises will opt for flexible workspaces

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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The global pandemic has been one of the biggest digital transformation catalysts in the history of the world. Every business has faced a dilemma to either adopt remote working or just stop working. Most enterprises and large businesses are rethinking about the possibilities of new workplace strategies that involve remote working, hot-desking, and co-working.

It was already a trend-setter in 2019, and the pandemic outbreak fueled it. In the coming days, we will see an increasing number of corporates shifting to co-working spaces. Aside from being a people oriented workplace pattern that can be called upon, co-working spaces are also being re-designed in a way that inspires creativity, making them a favorable environment for increasing productivity.

Design conscious work spaces

In the post-COVID-19 era, the industry can expect an evolution in workspace infrastructure, where design will play an instrumental role. Companies will also augment cleaning protocols, behavioral signage and encourage social distancing, and personal protective equipment for members and teams to ensure safety in case of any closed door face to face meetings.

Furthermore, as companies resume working from co-working spaces, it will be expected to maintain minimum physical distance between co-workers at all times, with the help of a modified office layout and more discrete workstations. It could also involve a policy that urges companies to work in shifts, to ensure that co-working spaces are not crammed with people in close contact with each other.

Furthermore, keeping in view the growing COVID-19 situation, the future office co-working spaces must have dedicated isolation rooms in case anyone develops symptoms. This room requires special ventilation and negative air pressure to reduce further exposure.

Increase in technology adoption

Growing with the shift in industry demand, co-working spaces will require the adoption of technology to be relevant in the post-pandemic era. Proactive and timely intervention might be more critical in the next few months. Co-working firms should have digitally enabled virtual tours for any prospective interest and delve into newer smart dynamic areas.

For example, we can expect to witness more coworking operators equip their spaces with the latest in-built technologies, new wireless devices, and countless integrations of their co-working space management software. All sorts of common gadgets, technologies, corresponding calendars and interactive dashboards will be controlled through a single amalgamated interface. Innovations are intended not to overwhelm workers but to significantly improve and abridge their co-working experience.

In a co-working space, there are so many surfaces that most people tend to use. The buttons of elevators, door handles, coffee machines, cafeteria tables, water coolers, taps in washrooms etc. This increases the risk of cross-contamination. Therefore, these shared economies have to rely more on technological advances in order to sustain in the post-COVID-19 world, with the increased use of contactless tech like automated doors and motion sensors in taps, coffee machines etc.

Co-working is here to stay

Considering the present and anticipated market trajectory, co-working companies will be growing on social quotient until these shared economies churn out a new form of objective to maintain their relevance forever. As per the recent industry trends and market reports, flexible coworking will emerge as stronger than ever and we can foresee strong aspirations for startups and entrepreneurs to have access to crafted office facilities with community support, collaboration, and knowledge engagement, offered by shared spaces.

Moreover, not only the startups but SMEs and giant players will also be preferring co-working spaces in the near-term, to ensure agility and flexibility, backed up with a sense of community.

In the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, while businesses may reel under pressure momentarily, investor sentiment remains lifted and commercial operators are hopeful of better days in the path ahead.
Bijay Agarwal is MD - Salarpuria Sattva
first published: Dec 22, 2020 07:39 am

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