Coworking operators have flourished over the past few years as the country’s startup and entrepreneurial communities flock to these flexible workspaces. Now, the industry is at risk of closing for good.
Danielle Stroble, cofounder of Bay Area-based Keller Street CoWork, was forced to close her space and stated that if they cannot open by June 1, there is a 50% chance of reopening.
Stroble said she lost five of her 60 members after the shelter-in-place went into effect and had to lay off two of her part-time workers. Stroble said she continues to bring mail to members who have kept their post-office boxes open once a week.
“I want to be very respectful of the health situation, first and foremost, and the comfort level of the members,” said Stroble. “And then I think, depending on when we go back into full force, people are going to start feeling more and more comfortable.”
She added that, assuming that the coworking space will open back up after the shelter-in-place has been lifted, the space already has reconfigured seating to accommodate physical distancing guidelines.
Another Bay Area coworking operator, CoLab, has also been forced to close their facility to most businesses other than 10 members who are considered essential.
Community manager Jessie Villa said that, while most members are working from home, they are keeping them engaged by hosting events on Zoom and using Slack channels to stay connected. Once the lockdown has lifted, Villa said they will be implementing strict cleaning protocols and maintaining physical distancing.