Co-working sector takes preventive measure to beat coronavirus

By Ashoke Raj

New Delhi [India], Mar 15 (ANI): After a sudden increase in the number of cases of coronavirus in India, co-working players are taking measures to contain the deadly virus at their workspaces. Regular cleaning of premises is done while disinfectants are being provided to everyone at the shared space.

Work from the home facility is also provided to employees as the sector tries to cope with the pandemic.

Talking about the preventive measures for a safe working environment, Sparsh Khandelwal, founder, Stylework said, "We are getting our offices sanitised and are not charging any additional cost from clients. We are also advising people to follow a hygienic and healthy lifestyle. They have also been urged to avoid crowded places. We have increased the availability of sanitisers and masks for our employees. An attempt is also being made to get a professional team on board to provide free coronavirus testing to our employees."

More than 1.18 million people work in around 35,000 co-working spaces globally. According to reports, India alone had approximately 1,000 co-working locations as of September 2019. Currently, India is also the second-largest market for the co-working industry after China.

Coronavirus has not just economically set back the global trade, tourism and billions in stock markets, it also made the co-working industry its victim.

"Currently, 10 per cent of office spaces are occupied by co-working and are expected to rise to approximately 25 per cent in the next few years. As per a report by real estate consultancy firm CBRE, in Q1 2019, the co-working segment witnessed a 277 per cent an upsurge in leading to nearly 3 million square feet. The sector grew by 70 per cent every quarter," says Abhay Chawla, Founding Partner, India Accelerator.

"While corporates are also moving into co-working spaces, occupancy is dominated by start-ups. Co-working spaces feel an additional responsibility to ensure safe and hygienic work environment as many start-ups may not have the resources to do this themselves. Working for home is not an option in the long run. India accelerators have advised its members to follow government advisory on travelling to high-risk countries besides taking measures to maintain the hygiene. The company has taken measures like advising sick individuals to rest at home, tie-up with hospitals, making sanitisers etc available across the office and more. The company reportedly believes that the drop in clients is due to the virus and people are avoiding sharing office space in the fear of getting infected," adds Chawla.

Coronavirus has badly impacted the co-working industry as clients are cancelling their outstation office trips and are instead opting for video conferencing. "The scheduled visits of the clients at our co-working offices have been postponed as they are avoiding travel due to coronavirus outbreak. A few of our clients have cancelled their outstation meetings and have now started audio/video conferencing for virtual meetings," said Nakul Mathur, MD, Avanta India another co-working space provider.

"We are sanitising the frequently touched points such as coffee machines, taps, door handles, drawer handles. We are also keeping our community members and employees informed of all the preventive measures suggested by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare through emails, posters and banners across all the common areas of our centres," added Mathur.

"COVID-19 being announced as a national pandemic has scared a lot of people and I hope that now people would awaken to the need of professionally managed office spaces which takes care of basic hygiene. All our co-working space owners have assured of extra measures which starts from installing public hand sanitisers to clean the common areas like lifts and receptions. People with any signs of flu are being asked to visit doctors. We are sure that these measures will help in containing the spread", said Ambika Saxena, Co-Founder, Cotech Solutions which owns FindMyCoWork.

Some of these co-working spaces are also promoting a healthy eating lifestyle. "We are ensuring a regular supply of juices rich in Vitamin C to ensure the health of the employee is taken care of. People who used to commute through public transport have been given an option to work from home," adds Khandelwal.

"Our multi-location pass is helpful for employees and companies can avail this facility to ensure employees can work near their residence. Since our co-workings are spread across Delhi-NCR and are fully equipped with facilities and amenities for work. We also have a day pass facility which is a great relief for companies that want their employees to work from home to ensure the work is not hampered," Khandelwal further stated. (ANI)