30 Flexible Workspaces Share Their COVID-19 Adaptations

Physical distancing, air flow and ventilation, and increased cleaning protocols are just a few of the areas flexible workspace operators are focusing on to contribute to a safe return to the workplace.
  • A survey of 30 flexible workspace operators provides detailed insights into how they have adapted their spaces in line with COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. 
  • The survey touched on key topics including staffing, cleaning responsibilities, de-densification, air flow, meeting rooms, and more.
  • One key finding was that 100% of respondents have reconfigured their spaces to ensure that members can remain at least 6 feet apart.

Want to know what other coworking spaces are doing to reopen safely?

A survey of 30 flexible workspace operators provides detailed insights into everything from meeting room bookings to kitchen etiquette.

In June 2020 the All Good Work Foundation, a social impact program for the flexible office industry, conducted a telephone survey with its workspace partners around Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. As some companies operate more than one location, the total number of locations reflected in this survey is 42.

These companies, which includes independent operators alongside larger brands like IWG and Pacific Workplaces, shared insights on how they have adapted their spaces in line with COVID-19 health and safety guidelines for the benefit of the wider industry.

The survey touched on key topics including staffing, cleaning responsibilities, de-densification, air flow, meeting rooms, and more.

Read the survey results in full here

95% of the locations surveyed remain open in some capacity for their clients, largely due to mailing operations which branded them ‘essential businesses’.

Workspace Employees Take On Extra Cleaning Responsibilities

On the positive side, staffing remains stable among the majority of workspaces that participated in the survey. The vast majority confirmed that once the shelter in place guidelines are relaxed, their staff will go back to working regular hours.

95% confirmed that their teams will be taking on additional roles in terms of monitoring and sanitizing facilities throughout the workday.

In terms of cleaning, respondents across the board confirmed they have implemented the following measures:

  • Installing sanitizing stations throughout the workspace and providing individual hand sanitizer or wipes to members
  • Wiping down and disinfecting high-touch or high traffic areas regularly
  • Posting signage that refers to CDC Health Guidelines (including maintaining 6 feet of physical distancing, washing hands often, etc)

In addition, some operators have introduced ‘check in’ procedures such as having members’ temperature taken on arrival using a touchless thermometer, while all staff and members are required to wear a mask in common areas.

Improving Ventilation and Air Flow is Vital for a Safer Workspace

Proper ventilation and air flow can play a vital role in reducing the spread of coronavirus. Half of workspace respondents are addressing ventilation issues directly, while the rest are relying on their landlords to improve air circulation in the building.

Opening windows can help to bring in fresh air, but this can affect the temperature of the space. Here are some examples of how workspaces are optimizing their ventilation and HVAC systems:

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  • Air filters meet ASHRAE guidance to minimize transmission through HVAC, and some have been upgraded with higher density filters (MERV-13).
  • Hours of operation for HVAC systems are being extended to promote continued air circulation and purging of indoor air.
  • HVAC system in the building does not use recycled air, a constant input of fresh air is being pumped through the system.
  • Airpura UV614 air purifier units installed throughout common areas with HEPA and UV filtration down to 0.3 microns, and with 6 exchanges of air per hour to enable 99.9%+ efficacy against aerosol viruses.

Reducing Capacity to Maintain Physical Distancing

100% of respondents have reconfigured their spaces to ensure that members can remain at least 6 feet apart.

Up to 50% of desks and chairs have been removed or taped off, while shared seating such as long benches, hot desks and lounge seats have been replaced with individual desks that are six feet apart.

Some operators have installed sneeze screens between desks and at reception using plexiglass, while others have created barriers using whiteboards or other non-porous barriers.

Small Meetings are Going Ahead

Currently no large-scale events are allowed to take place in any workspace. However, a few locations are allowing meetings of up to 10 people.

Those operators who allow small meetings have reconfigured their spaces to support physical distancing by removing or taping off seats, or using smaller separate tables — typically reducing the number of individuals in their conference rooms by 30% to 50%.

  • Most operators have an online system for members to reserve meeting space (some are requesting several days’ notice).
  • Some are leaving a time gap between meetings to allow for cleaning, with signage indicating whether the space has been cleaned since the previous occupant.
  • Most are providing wipes and hand sanitizer either in the conference room or just outside the door for meeting participants to use.

Moving Forward

This research by All Good Work provides a detailed account of how workspace operators are moving forward by providing a safety-focused environment, which allows their members to escape the home office and get back to some level of normality.

“We have gained enormous insights into the countless hours of thoughtful research, planning, reconfiguration, and communication that they [operators] have engaged in to prepare their workspaces for a COVID-19 world,” says All Good Work’s Amy Feldman.

“Shared office operators have shown that as an industry they are able to return to business, and are committed to providing their members with workspaces that have integrated the critical social distancing requirements and safety measures necessary to support both the productivity and health of their members as they return to the workplace.”

Read the survey results in full here

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