As the COVID-19 pandemic slowly loosens its grip on the country, many are acknowledging that the coronavirus’s effects will continue to linger, especially as it impacts our workspaces.
Changes that have been taking shape over the last decade will likely be accelerated as companies prioritize the health of their employees and customers like never before.
Offices will look different in the coming months. Desks might be spaced further apart. Common spaces could be roped off and seating in conference rooms might be limited. There may also be fewer people in the office as more employees become remote workers.
Before the public health crisis, only about 4% of the American workforce were considered remote workers. An MIT survey reports that the number skyrocketed to 34% in April. As companies reopen their offices, some employees may continue working from home due to health concerns, school cancellations, or simply because they like the flexibility.
Global Workplace Analytics suggests that a majority of those who were working from home in April will want to continue doing so, or at least have the option to once or twice a week. With modern technology, they predict 30% of the workforce will be remote in the next few years.
The rise in remote work combined with the financial havoc caused by the virus has created ideal circumstances for many businesses to make the switch to co-working spaces.
Co-working spaces are workplaces shared by remote workers, freelancers, and startups on a monthly membership basis. Options include single desks or whole offices at a reduced rent cost and membership includes access to amenities such as breakrooms, Wi-Fi, and business support services.
For startups, the month-by-month rent allows for more flexibility than a long-term lease as membership packages can be upgraded to match growth or downgraded to meet unexpected budgetary needs. Meanwhile, rent covers costs like utilities and maintenance resulting in lower overhead. These savings can then be funneled back into the business.
In fact, a financial analysis conducted by Value Penguin showed that startups with less than twelve employees could save over $2,500 a month by switching to co-working. Similarly, TechSpace notes that co-working can be 60-70% more cost-effective for offices with teams of fewer than 30.
In the aftermath of the economic downturn caused by COVID-19, reducing costs could help some businesses avoid layoffs, taking on more loans to stay afloat, or even having to shut down completely.
The uncertainty brought on by the virus has emphasized the importance of flexibility as many employers try to find a way to meet their employees’ ever-changing needs. Co-working could provide new remote workers who have opted out of a traditional office with a suitable work environment, especially if they need to get away from the distractions of a home workspace.
“I think the need for workspace flexibility has become very clear to many businesses after the pandemic,” says Loni Smith, Director of Small Business Incubation at the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce. “And co-working could be the perfect solution.”
Interested in a co-working environment? The Joseph Newman Innovation Center (NIC) and Advanced Training and Technology Center (ATTC) have co-working space available. Learn more at https://joplincc.com/serve-local-businesses/entrepreneurship/.
Alyssa Brown, Content Creator
Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce