Our daily lives will certainly be changed permanently by the pandemic that we are living through, and coworking will be a key part of that. As we look around at our city’s empty retail, office and workspaces, we have all been forced to rethink the way we live and do business, and we’re finding what will work and what won’t for the future. Some are realising that this is an opportunity to create a new way of life. Coworking provides unique benefits that will make it even more valuable and widespread as we recover and move forward. For large and small businesses, entrepreneurs, employees and freelancers, coworking spaces will be the new normal.

Here are four reasons coworking is set to thrive post-pandemic.

1. We’re great at long-distance relationships.

Remote working is already being embraced for the long-term by global organisations. Businesses who may have been averse to remote working before this pandemic are now realizing the possibilities it offers their employees, their business and their culture. CEO James Gorman of financial services giant Morgan Stanley recently stated that they are retreating from real estate investment and have learned to operate with much less physical space with almost no issues.

Requests for flexible space in suburban locations and tertiary markets have increased recently, according to IWG’s CEO for the Americas, Wayne Berger. This is because large companies, he says, are looking to spread their employees across multiple locations to reduce the densities built into their traditional spaces. Similarly, Nationwide announced a permanent transition to a hybrid work model as they say 98% of their staff are successfully working remotely.

For individuals, the flexibility of managing workloads on their own time from a 24/7 coworking space will be a benefit most people won’t give up. And in the expanding world of remote working, the possibility of landing a dream job with a team who just happen to be 2,000 kilometres away will become a regular reality. Healthy, well-designed spaces where workers can plug into an established community will become the main attractor for valuable talented individuals looking for new opportunities with employers.

2. Our community is the key.

At KWENCH, a full-service work and culture club in Victoria, BC, we are realising even more than before the profound importance of community to our survival and well-being. Victoria is proving itself to be a strong, resilient bunch who are committed to supporting each other in times of need and KWENCH is proud to be part of that community.

Co-working is and will be a key part of maintaining connections and rebuilding our economy. Some businesses won’t recover, but a community hub like a coworking space will help people reconnect, build a network and start something new. Businesses and individuals find that working in shared spaces increases their commissions and connections, which expands their business, creates jobs and stimulates the economy. Entrepreneurs, business owners, and workers need these social networks and local connections found in coworking clubs more than ever to recover. When we recently asked our members at KWENCH what they looked forward to on returning, it was the social connections they have missed most, both for the success of their work and their mental health and well-being.

Photo: James Jones

3. We’re stretchy.

Coworking spaces will, as always, remove the burden of managing a physical space from the employer or individual, and give them the freedom to spend their time and effort on their business. The expense and exhausting effort of procuring and establishing a physical location is gone, with everything already in place within a coworking space, from locally sourced coffee and trusted security systems to an established community and culture of like-minded businesses ready to connect and support.

Particularly now, employers are realizing the additional value that the flexibility offered by coworking spaces provides. Members aren’t bound by the typically long leases on traditional work spaces, so when their needs change, they can adapt much more quickly. At KWENCH we have had member businesses able to continue with minimal disruption as they scaled back during this pandemic and it has been integral to their ability to survive. Conversely, when they are able to scale up again they can instantaneously expand their team and space requirements without any disruption to their workflow, while keeping their culture intact.

4. Health and safety first.

The days of huge corporate offices housing thousands of workers in one space is already unimaginable in the future. There is a need and an opportunity to create a new kind of healthy, flexible workspace that can adapt to current and future pandemics. Coworking spaces with large floor plans and modular layouts are reacting to these new protocols of socially distanced working and hygiene requirements, and planning for how to stay flexible to future challenges.

The mental health of our community is another significant concern as we move forward in this new world. Shared work spaces may be the ideal solution for many recovering in the future months, giving workers a place for the essential social contact that self-isolation has taken from them, yet affording non-crowded, quiet and easy-to-use facilities. The impact of this pandemic on our collective and individual emotional and mental health is something we will be processing for years to come, and our connection to each other will be key for us to recover and become more resilient.

With advice and information from the government, workspace designers, our members and health and safety professionals, our team is now implementing new layouts, protocols, and processes at the club in preparation for welcoming new and existing members back to a new way of working at KWENCH on June 1st.

This article was written by Eva Ravenstein, communications leader at KWENCH, a full-service work and culture club in Victoria for creative, ambitious thinkers and doers who seek more. Their 23,000-square-foot space opened in 2019 and includes creative studios, private offices and open work spaces, events, fitness facilities, workshops, lectures, art installations, meditation, food and drink — all in one place.