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Why flexible workspace will emerge stronger from COVID-19

Stone Soup is taking part in the discussions about the future of coworking and has frequent conversations with coworking operators and community managers from around the world. It is a collective effort to tackle the best way we can the current crisis and emerge stronger. The fight we are up against needs a united front. 

The change will obviously happen

While things are slowly getting back to (the new) normal, one thing is for sure: Coworking as we know it will have to change to survive. Coworking spaces are known for their communal areas and shared amenities. However, keeping a coworking space safe in a post-coronavirus world will probably lead to more dividers for personal space and private offices. 

Despite this tangible setback, industry professionals believe that in the long run, the coronavirus outbreak will not hamper appetites for “real-estate-as-a-service” models. In contrast, the belief is that the recovery from the crisis could serve to drive up demand for flexible office space.

Local or Global: Who has better chances to survive?

Each country has what we call a Local Champion: a homegrown player which competes with the international incumbents in each country. The local players are in a better position to handle local inquiries and manage their financial stability according to CEO of FlySpaces, Mario Berta.

Can we foresee the future using industry data?

The future of coworking

The answer is no, unfortunately.  Most economic forecasts, for the most part, are just guessing.

The problem is, there is very little data to go on. That’s because we are experiencing a black swan event. The term was popularised by author Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his 2007 book, The Black Swan: “The Impact of the Highly Improbable”. It talks about very low probability events that have an extremely high impact if they occur, like the CoronaVirus. So basically we’re in uncharted waters. There is no historical data to make forecasts, as we haven’t experienced anything like this. There are too many unknowns.

Exploring new behaviors

What we can do to draw some conclusions is to observe and understand 4 emerging behaviors of companies and individuals.

  • Companies are investing in remote work infrastructure and learning how to do it. Remote work is an example of a trend that has been amplified by the CoronaVirus crisis. The growth of remote work is teaching companies that it’s easier to integrate independent workers into their teams.
  • Companies will increasingly take advantage of the flexible terms of a coworking space rather than taking on long-term leases. The need for flexible terms will continue, perhaps even more rapidly. If anything, this crisis highlights why flexibility is valuable for companies.
  • These behaviors are also happening on a personal level, as people have been seeking to reduce commitments and ownerships. There has also been a steady rise in independent work, with more freelancers and independent contractors.
  • Similar to the “first time online shoppers” via e-commerce platforms, the crisis will generate a new number of tenants that will experience flexible office space and its benefits for the first time. Those tenants will most likely prefer flexible spaces over their permanent office in the future.

The pandemic is amplifying these trends and making them more powerful than they were before. The good news is that all of these trends – the reduction in long term commitments, the rise of independent work, and the desire for more flexibility and agility – will eventually push more people into a flexible workspace.

#3 reasons why flexible workspace should emerge stronger

 

Reason No. 1: The Need for Flexible Leases 

Once the lockdown period ends, companies will lay more emphasis on cost optimization. Especially if the recovery is slow and halting, companies will probably look for options that will allow them to easily exit if they are forced to send employees home once more.

They will be seeking alternatives to traditional long-term office leases and there is an undeniable market demand for flexibility and enhanced tenant experience, which we expect to continue beyond the near-term negative economic impact of COVID-19.

flexible office lease

Reason No. 2: Remote Workers Have to Work Somewhere

Many people are now just becoming comfortable with remote work for the first time and figuring out ways to make it efficient. That could mean more employees and employers become comfortable with it. But that doesn’t mean all those remote workers will work at home forever. After a couple of months of lockdown and working from a home environment – with distractions, not enough usable workspace, or reliable Internet access – our guess is that people will be eager to work from somewhere else.

Shared workspaces, nearer to a home location, may actually be the ideal solution for many in the future months. They will give workers a flexible workspace to work and have the essential social contact lockdown has robbed from so many, yet affording non-crowded, quiet and easy to use facilities.

Reason No. 3: Community is Key to Recovery

Entrepreneurs, business owners, and workers will need social networks and local connections more than ever to regain their footing. Community strength will be essential in helping people reconnect, build new networks, and support each other.

Coworking was an idea that was founded on community, however, it had become an industry driven by real estate. A race to monopolize the industry created workspaces that required ‘as many bums on seats as possible’. Community became an afterthought. Stone Soup was created in order to bring community back to coworking. Employing generous workspace and large, flexible work areas to encourage a sense of calm. We believe that human beings should work side-by-side, not on top of one another.

 

#5 tips you need to know to start working remotely

The way of working is rapidly changing as a new professional culture is emerging, one that is swaying away from the traditional ways of doing business. This culture is evident in startups but is also gaining ground in more traditional companies throughout the world that are adapting to this reality.

The new era is bringing modern aspects to the workplace, and one of those is the concept of the remote worker, a professional who does not need a single workspace and is able to travel by bringing their work to any part of the world. But working remotely is not as simple as it sounds, it takes some skills and habits that most people don’t have and you can only master by trying and trying again. When you are juggling with work and traveling, if your don’t do it right you can ruin both experiences.

If your are aware of the possible risks and you are one of those who wishes to experiment with freedom while working, this list is for you! We present to you 5 tips to help you become someone who doesn’t need a permanent workspace.

#1 Find a workspace

It may be tempting to work from home or trying to bring your laptop to the beach or to the mountains to work, but for the sake of your productivity, you have to ultimately find a place that would minimize your distractions and that would help you do better in your work.

Most people think about working in the comfort of their home, coding, designing or writing in their underwear while laying in bed or the sofa. This might work for a few, but using your home as your workspace might mean that you don’t feel comfortable enough neither as a home or workspace, and being isolated or even start to feel lonely might affect your productivity in the long run, and even your mental state.

That’s why most of the remote workers recommend that you find a neutral place, that isn’t either your house or your office, some of them recommend to work on cafes, where you have food and good coffee, which is pretty useful if you find a cafe that suits your needs, and also, make it easier for you to travel and work in other places. The only drawback about working in cafes is the noise, especially if you need to present your work or make an important phone call and sometimes, the Internet connection is not on your side either.

To address that need, there are many coworking spaces that you may find in almost any city and they offer a professional setup to accommodate your needs while you work. At the same time, a shared working space offers great opportunities for meeting different people and business networking, that’s why such places are filled with remote workers and digital nomads all around the world.

#2 Plan and prepare

This might sound obvious but it’s always good to remember how important is planning yourself before starting working out of the office. You won’t have anybody to remind you what you have to do and when you have to do it. This freedom is great but you have to learn how to control and manage effectively your time and how to use your freedom in your favor.

To build your own work schedule and to work whenever you want is great and probably the quality of your work might be even greater because you mind and inspiration will be at your own time, but it is easy to lose focus and to procrastinate when you are not in your everyday office and routine.For that reason, building a schedule and organizing your tasks is a great thing to do and will help a lot with your productivity.

There are a lot of tools on the web to help with your task management and your organization, like Trello, that you can use on your computer and your phone and help you to organize your tasks and remind you when the deadlines are coming, Evernote, that is useful to keep your notes and to remember your tasks, and if you prefer analog methods, the Bullet Journal will help you organize our day to day tasks and do things efficiently.

#3 Improve your communication

Nat Turner once said that “Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity”, and his words are very meaningful when you think about working remotely. If you do not meet with your coworkers or with your clients at a physical office space, you need to make the communication between you clear and effective or you won’t be able to collaborate successfully and deliver your goals..

Most communication may be achieved with on-line appointments and frequent calls or emails, but your time and your colleagues’ or clients’ time is precious, so, take extra care in making your points clear and make sure that at all times you understand and balance expectations on both sides. This will make easier to approach them after the meetings.

#4 Know exactly what you do and how much it costs

Pricing is a common hurdle that most remote workers face, especially when they are starting off. Once you don’t work in a specific place, it is hard to measure how much time a day you are working, and normally, people forget to count the time that they are spending searching for clients or having meetings, even though this is an important part of their work.

To runaway for that mistake, the best thing to do is to know exactly what you can offer, to define the services you provide and how much they cost on the market you specialize. Then you price fairly, and when you do that, you keep in mind that you need to be able to compensate for all the hours that you spend looking for your clients and all the extra things that you have to take care to keep your business running. We know, this is not what you are meant to do or your profession but hey, being self employed comes with a toll.

#5 Make contacts and meet people

Being independent is great, working for yourself is amazing, but you need to meet people and make contacts to work remotely, because you work for people and with people, and networking will help you to get through the hard times that you might find in this adventure that is working remotely.

Exploring the places that you visit, and talking to people you meet is a difficult task, but it gets easier the more you practice it, and it will be a rewarding experience for you, try to connect with the people that you speak, ask their opinion and bring out yours too, if you know someone that could be useful for other people that you have met, bring them together, they will feel grateful to you, and they will be happy to help you when you need.

There are a lot of networking events happening all the time and you can use Meetup to find about it, most of the people in this kind of events are looking forward to the same things that you are, and they will be happy to talk to you, so be open to that.

To that end, coworking spaces make serendipity interactions smoother, because you will find yourself amidst a lot of people working and you can improve your networking all the time. As simple as it is,  it’s important to get out of the house and meet people, and this spaces are built for that.

If you are working remotely or want to try it out, and you are interested in keeping up with new business trends, follow Stone Soup on Facebook and come to visit our coworking space, we could be exactly what you’re looking for!