The outbreak of the coronavirus could have a significant impact on the coworking industry as members with short-term leases opt to work from home.
Now, coworking firms are faced with the tough decision of whether to limit their operations or close their doors altogether. Research from London’s Imperial College shows that if strict measures are not taken against COVID-19, the U.S. could experience up to 2.2 million deaths.
“I think the country has gotten on board that, at least for the foreseeable future, they should not be going into public places,” said Jamie Hodari, co-founder and CEO of coworking firm Industrious.
Although it is still too early to determine what could happen to coworking operators, the industry was expected to expand to 600 million square feet by 2030. Now, the true test of how sustainable the model is will take place.
Many companies are taking measures to keep their staff and occupants safe. For instance, Convene announced it would temporarily close 17 of its locations across the U.S. including facilities in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington D.C.
This is in accordance with the CDC’s guidelines that recommends employers telecommute if possible and implement strict cleaning regimens. Still, the guidelines do not call for companies to close private offices.
“There are still many opportunities for the virus to transmit, so a private office, while better than an open one, is not quite the same as staying in your home and not leaving,” said Ellen MacEachen, associate professor at the University of Waterloo’s School of Public Health.