There are a lot of questions floating around about the current threat of Covid-19, and for the coworking community, these questions stem from how to keep our communities healthy, to how to keep our businesses open should things get really weird in a global pandemic situation.

Our hope is that this virus dies out quickly and everyone gets to breathe a sigh of relief and perhaps have better hygiene while sick, in the process.

That said, we are collaborating with several coworking leaders on a set of resources that operators can use in response to the threat or outbreak of an infectious disease.

Of course, this post is focused on the current Covid-19 outbreak, but let’s be real: Coworking spaces need a protocol for how to handle emergencies, disasters and infectious disease outbreaks, so this post may be updated and may grow into a larger, collective effort.

We have pulled resources from across the different global organizations responding to the global outbreak (as of this writing, WHO has not yet classified this as a pandemic) and listed them here.

Here’s what is covered in this blog post:

  • Quick start guide to keeping your space healthy
  • Signage that you can print and hang in your space
  • Best recommendations for how to handle sick members and sick employees
  • Ideas on how to keep your community connected in the event of an outbreak or quarantine in your area
  • Ideas on how to keep your revenue coming in in the event things take a while to settle
  • Info for spaces that offer childcare and cater to families
  • Links to external resources to keep you updated on the outbreak and response

General Space Operations

This quick start guide covers the basics of shared space cleaning and hygiene.

Signage you can post in your space

We’ve created a public folder with shared signage, please upload yours and any other resources you want to share with the global coworking community.

Preparing for and handling signs of illness

  • Write up your facility cleaning protocol and expectations for your community, detailing what measures you are taking to keep the facilities clean, how you will support sick employees and your expectations of members. Communicate this directly to your members in email, signage and a community (virtual) meeting. You can find several examples of how other operators have done so throughout this post.
  • Communicate your sick policy to your employees and your expectations of their attendance at work if they should become ill
  • Make plans for how to manage the space if you are understaffed or have no staff
  • If members appear ill, consider asking them to go home
    • Some operators are considering creating a “quarantine” office, though this may increase the risk to everyone in your space
  • If an employee feels or appears ill, send them home
  • Remind everyone of these guidelines prior to returning to work
    • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
    • If you are sick with flu symptoms, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

Stay Connected!

In the coworking movement, we understand that we are in the business of creating belonging and connection and in an increasingly disconnected world, our communities are second homes and places of belonging for our members. With potential quarantines, isolation is a real concern, as is mental health. Keeping our communities strong and healthy is about more than washing hands and elbow bumps, we need real interactions! Below is a quick brainstorm of ideas for keeping members connected in the event of a quarantine.

  • Turn your in-person events into online events, or a combo of both
    • Use tools like Zoom, Google Hangouts and Facetime group calls to broadcast your meetings, meetups and other events to your members who want to attend virtually. Cat Johnson’s convos are a great example of how much community can be built over Zoom!
    • Host virtual coworking sessions over Zoom.
  • Post your newsletters on your blog and encourage members to comment and connect.
  • Use Slack or other group communication tools to stay connected.
  • Consider holding outside events in public spaces likes parks, the beach or hiking trails.
  • If someone in your community is ill and is alone, create a plan to support them. Drop off groceries, offer to care for their kids (if it’s safe to do so), or run errands for them.
  • Offer virtual office plans, if you don’t already.

Stay in business!

We’ve heard some operators express concerns about the negative financial hit that they may experience if members start canceling their memberships. We don’t want to see any spaces close due to a prolonged outbreak period. Below are some ideas you can consider to keep generating revenue in the event of a prolonged outbreak.

  • Offer virtual office (VO) or community membership plans which include mail and access to your community communication tools.
    • Cat Johnson’s upcoming Coworking Convo is all about creating a VO plan, talk about perfect timing!
    • Here’s a helpful post from a VO technology provider with ideas on best practices in setting up a VO product
  • Increase your existing VO plans to include additional services
  • Add value to your VO plans by increasing your online meetups and classes

For Childcare and Family Friendly Spaces

For our spaces with childcare, here are a couple of resources on health and hygiene that are appropriate for kids.

  • Cold and flu informational video
  • How and why to wash hands video
  • This wonderful video on how to wash hands is in Spanish
  • For older kids, a kid-friendly fact video on Coronavirus:
  • Here’s an email sent to the members of a family-friendly space

External Resources

  • Johns Hopkins University global map of the outbreak with up to date stats on regions, number of infected cases, recovery rates and deaths
  • World Health Organization’s (WHO) Coronavirus info dashboard
  • The United States Centers for Disease Control (US CDC) Coronavirus info dashboard
  • This resource for businesses from the US CDC is helpful
  • If you are in the United States, don’t forget to check your county health department’s guidelines, (Psst. We see these folk as heroes right now, working hard to plan for our best outcomes while navigating their own concerns about family and health and finances.)

We’re wishing health and wellbeing to our entire coworking community and your families and loved ones.

What additional resources do you have or need in your community? How are you planning to support your members and your business in the event of a longer duration outbreak? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Leave a Reply

  1. Public Health Resource for community operators dealing with infectious disease risks. -

    […] Along with several colleagues, partners and community professionals we’ve pooled together and released a Public Health Resource for handling infectious diseases. […]

  2. Nancy F

    Thank you so much for all these resources and recommendations. You’ve saved me lots of time and headache. Stay healthy out there!

    1. Iris Kavanagh Listing Owner

      You’re welcome! So glad you found this helpful.

    1. Iris Kavanagh Listing Owner

      Wonderful! Stay healthy and safe.

    1. Iris Kavanagh Listing Owner

      Yes, it’s not an easy time to be a human. Stay healthy and safe!

  3. All the resources available to coworking spaces during COVID-19 are here.

    […] the Women Who Cowork helpful blogspot gathering many relevant links and tips to keep your coworking community and business healthy during […]

  4. Mathew S. Burrus

    One of the best and comprehensive article on coworking space, i am bookmarking it so i can read it again. Thank you iris kavanagh, you really inspired me to learn more.