With fears of a bleak future for shared offices, thanks to remote working brought by restrictions on social distancing due to Covid-19, some players in the sector have, however, a different positive view.
According to Workstyle co-founders Ronald Nyairo and Federico Von Bary, there is still hope of good business despite the fears.
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Covid 19 Time Series
“There is a need to look at the long term perspective of three to five years, not just one year. Yes its true Covid-19 has affected how companies and any business that require people to gather but also it has changed how companies look at the future and how to save in terms of using office space,” said Nyairo.
“For instance, the traditional office setting normally has a big boardroom, chief executive officer office, kitchenette, washrooms, open working space, reception area among other spaces. But with the impact of Covid-19, companies, especially SMEs with 35 to 50 employees for instance or less, will have to think twice over the above-mentioned spaces. We foresee a situation where there will be a hybrid solution, where workers work in an office, for instance, three to four days a week, and the rest of the days are spent working from home or a shared working space elsewhere because working from home has also its challenges including power outage, interruptions among others,” said Bary.
To get such space elsewhere shared working space which has constant power with backup, WIFI, and other necessary amenities and is paid as per usage time, which can only be provided by players like us.
In the future, he says companies will now be using office spaces and paying for them depending on utilisation and not just to have a boardroom that is used by the chief executive officer for like thrice or twice per week.
“Why will I pay for a boardroom space for a whole 24 hours when it is used for only two to three hours? For the reception, you will find that it might be reduced from the current large space with seats to maybe a space of one person or done away with. We foresee office space only used when necessary,” added Barry.
This is because, he says shared working spaces come with more amenities and benefits, some free including a cafeteria with free snacks, networking, free lounge usage, and WIFI once you become a member.
So, what do players in this sector need to do or reinvent to survive according to Workstyle?
1. Air conditioning
Normally, each outdoor air-condition (AC) unit only has three indoor units. Meaning one AC for the whole floor. However, with Covid-19, each floor will have an AC. There will now be a need for a new filtration system for each floor unlike how it is now. Meaning if a building has eight floors, it will require eight new filtration systems.
2. More spacing
While in the past we have been having squeezed shared working spaces with people sitting nearer to each other. The new business model will be one person sitting 1.5 meters apart as far as social distancing is concerned. That’s why we have different kinds of office spaces depending on the client’s needs, which is different from other market segments. This means there will be a need for more space.
3. Increase in safety cost
Considering that we are premium office working space, firms will have to invest more in disinfection exercises to take good care of their clients as far as safety is concerned to avoid the spread of Covid-19.
5. More customer engagement
There will be a need for firms to engage more with clients to know their different office space needs. Since the market has been disrupted by Covid-19, there will be a new kind of customer who will need more education on what to do to save costs. For instance, a firm that has its staff number changed downwards will require advice on how it will go about its business and thus offer them custom-made solutions for their office space needs.
6.Identifying what you were not offering
It’s now time for players to ask themselves what they were not offering apart from working spaces, WIFI alone, and what extra they should offer. More of like after-sales service. We are now thinking of setting up a fitness and wellness center, a nursing room for mothers.