Aren’t we all waiting eagerly for the glorious day when the lockdown’s lifted? The day when we finally get back to work, meet our teams and feel that amazing flow of energy that went missing since the past few weeks. Isn’t it a lovely dream coming true for us? 🙂
Well, if you happen to run a coworking centre or an office space, now is the time to snap out of that dream and WAKE UP! You, my friend, have a lot to do before you reopen your offices and coworking after lockdown and the time to get started was yesterday!
The task at hand
The monstrous COVID-19 pandemic has left deep impacts on our world and society, we are significantly different from what we used to be. The fear it has instilled in all of us is not going away anytime soon. It’ll take a decent amount of time before we get over the fear of accidentally touching an unknown surface or brushing against a stranger’s hand by mistake or even breathing freely in a public place.
While lifting the lockdown is one thing, convincing people to step out of the safety of their homes and come back to shared spaces is going to be a whole another ball game. Tough and challenging, to say the least.
The only way out of this is to do whatever it takes to make our coworkers feel that our spaces are as close to their home in terms of safety and that we will constantly work towards protecting them like our family. Hence, it is imperative that we do a thorough job of preparing for this reopening by:
- Having a comprehensive plan of action to ensure a completely sanitised physical space.
- People-centric policy to ensure the safety of our own staff and all our members.
- Lastly and most importantly, talking about all that is being done to keep everyone safe in and around the centre, to instil a sense of confidence and security in all those who want to make their way back to work.
Through this article, we are attempting to enlist some of the guiding principles to be kept in mind while taking up this activity. Our piece will end with a detailed handbook underlining checklists and all the major points to be covered for ensuring that you’ve undertaken a thorough step to safety and hygiene.
The Space: A perfectly sanitised safe haven for work
At a time like this, where do people feel the safest? Their homes. That is the level of sanitisation and precaution that we all have to aim for. This can be split into two phases: Pre-reopening, One Time Activities and Day-to-day measures post reopening or recurring activities while running the centre.
In preparation for the big day of reopening, spatially speaking, there are 4 main areas that one should think through comprehensively:
1) Prelaunch spa & sauna day for the centre
The space is eagerly waiting for a thorough rub, scrub and wash after feeling neglected and lonely for more than a month! Before re-opening coworking post lockdown, please ensure that every nook and corner of the space and every single surface undergoes the medically recommended disinfection processes. Don’t cut corners on this one, both literally and figuratively. It might just end up costing you a lot more than a few clients.
Need help with a vendor to take care of this? Refer to the myHQ product catalogue here.
2) It’s not just the insides that matter, look around as well
Notice how cautious you are these days about the elevator in your apartment, the reception of your building and even the entrance gate of your complex? In the same way, get along with the other owners/tenants of the building to chalk out a clear plan for shared areas and ensure compliance to all the guidelines issued.
As per government mandates, have a list of all medical facilities nearby to tackle COVID-19 cases around your centre. We sincerely hope you never have to use that list, but nevertheless, keep it handy.
3) Have red & green zones in your centre
Figure out common spaces like the reception, pantry/cafeteria, meeting/conference rooms, washrooms and the common lounge and mark them as red for heightened monitoring. Make sure that you have a clear policy for usage of such spaces.
Block access to breakout zones and you can even consider re-using them as regular working areas to make up for some of the efficiency lost due to ensuring social distancing norms. Get the process of booking meeting rooms online. We would be happy to share our system and set this up for you to make this process contactless. Reach out to us here.
4) Make a timetable & plan shifts
Discuss with all your coworkers and try to open the centre in shifts allowing everyone to come in every day, but not at the same time.
Need detailed information and checklists to make sure you have covered all bases and a list of vendors who can help you out with the same? Check out the myHQ Handbook and ensure that you’ve not missed any spots!
Once the centre is operational again, constant vigilance will be key to ensure safety for everyone.
- Have a weekly/daily/hourly sanitation routine in place for all areas in and around the centre depending on your classification of them into red/orange/green zones.
- Get yourself certified as a sanitised and safe workspace with the help of our partner agency by means of an audit of the space from a health, hygiene standpoint on a regular basis. Feel free to reach out to us here.
- Keep physical checklists at all such areas to track compliance
- Diligently stick to all routines and schedules put in place without fail
- We have tied up with an audit agency & would be happy to help out with that
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- Coworking vs COVID-19: The battle & what lies ahead
- Save our offices – sign the petition and show support
- Impact of coronavirus on Indian startups & how to handle this crisis
The People: Staff or member, each one has a role to play
The set of activities, as given in the handbook should ensure that you’re all set to welcome your coworkers back. But remember, this is only half the job done. All your people, be it your staff or the coworkers, need to play together as a team for one cause – keeping the infection out! This is the trickier bit as it is not completely in your control and has a lot of fluid variables.
However, this is where you will need to be extra vigilant and close out all possible loopholes. Broadly, keeping these four things in mind should help:
1) The time for due diligence is right now
Each person who is to return to your centre, staff or member, should be instructed to install the Aarogya Setu app. The address of each coworker should be recorded to keep a track of members coming from different containment zones. Take a well-informed call on who to allow back and treat any red flag in all the information captured with utmost seriousness.
2) Have your staff battle-ready
Now more than ever, your staff will be the face of your brand. They will be putting members at ease based on the sense of confidence they instil about having everything under control. Their seeming unpreparedness may cost you clients and a lot more. Leave no stone unturned in training them by doing dry runs and being completely ready when it’s go-time.
3) Treat your centre as a fortress
Be ready with all possible equipment, right from temperature sensors, contact-less sanitisers, all of the required PPE and have a strict process of admitting people inside every day. Even if it feels like people are entering the defence headquarters, so be it. There should be no compromise on this one.
4) Go Contactless
Namaste is the way to go! Figure out all possible processes which earlier involved contact, and brainstorm with your team on how to make all interactions contactless. Sensitize all coworkers, guide them on the first few days to familiarise with the new norms.
All people-policies ready? Let’s move to the last and probably the most important bit!
The Conversation: Engage & Reassure
We scrubbed and bathed the entire centre, trained our staff to black cat commando levels, reopened and kept waiting. No-one turned up. Why?
Well, because, it’s not just important to take the steps but also to talk about it!
In all probability, your centres will be the first public spaces that majority of the coworkers would venture out to, once the lockdown is lifted making it the first place they put their trust in, after their homes. That puts a huge responsibility on your head.
The thing about relationships is that it is all about trust. How do you build trust? By doing whatever it takes and by communicating about it.
So talk to your users in all possible ways that you can to keep this faith intact. Whether it is online, telephonic or face to face conversation, you need to keep engaging. Through notices, posters, etc. which you will put up across the space, and through sanitisation + hygiene audit certifications through partner agencies.
There should be a constant chatter about the measures you have taken and it needs to overpower the sceptical sentiment around shared spaces. Tell them about precautions, processes put in place, training sessions conducted, shifts made and all that you have been doing behind the curtains to ensure that they get that home-like safety at their favourite workspace.
Seems like a long list of things! But it is what needs to be done, for without coworkers, what is coworking? It is the people who put the soul into your beautiful workspaces and you owe them at least this much.
Lots of things to do before you reopen your office and coworking post lockdown! What’re you waiting for? Let’s get started already!
Also, if you feel that the list is too long and you’re struggling to keep up, we’ve got you covered. Feel free to refer to this handbook to make sure you’ve ticked all the tasks off that list and are ready to seize that big reopening day!