''Difficult times lead us to better days.''
Alecks Domingo Labonete, Head of Sales of Common Ground
As companies are adapting to these uncertain times, space providers in the coworking industry are facing challenges due to their inability to operate. The coworking industry generally functions as an incubator office for MSMEs where they grow and collaborate.
In Lamudi’s webinar series, industry leaders Joey Bondoc, Senior Manager for Research of Colliers International Philippines; Raphael Felix, President and Chief Executive Officer of Phinma Properties; Alecks Domingo-Labonete, Head of Sales of Common Ground; and Josef Werker, Managing Director of Penbrothers discussed their journey and their strategies in response to COVID19.
Demand for space
Bondoc shed light on the foreseeable demand for coworking spaces in a couple of months as companies are pausing their expansion plans. Companies that originally planned to take over traditional spaces for a long-term lease are now shifting their angle to a more flexible workspace arrangement. BPO companies, in particular, are in search of spaces where they can have a ‘'flex and core’' scheme which would allow them to implement a split arrangement model for operations.
This model would encourage a split arrangement for employees, providing a rotation for work from home arrangement and actual office work in response to the impossibility of totally resuming to the traditional process. According to Bondoc, flexible workspace is an integral part of business continuity plans especially that social distancing is observed and will be implemented even after ECQ has been lifted.
Companies under coworking
As people are working from home, it imposes that they are not using their rented space. This dilemma, however, opens a room for opportunity for coworking spaces to adapt and improve their services by providing a hybrid solution that could aid their members.
Productivity-wise, work from home is ideal for some while it highlights some people’s need for an office and that’s where coworking will enter the picture in which they will need to prepare for the potential demand. Coworking spaces, according to Werker, have a good distancing measure compared to traditional offices and this could be useful now that social distancing is being observed throughout.
Community has always been the buzz word for coworking spaces with their fun events and networking efforts. With the current absence of physical space for people to interact and collaborate, coworking spaces need to amplify their stance on community building as part of their culture. Werker highlighted the need for coming together and spreading the right information in the right channels. Community is what coworking spaces provide that will bring their members together.
Coworking space providers Accelr8 and Common Ground mentioned that they are doing their best in connecting to their members through information drives and activities. With Common Ground’s strengthened communication efforts, they are covering all bases with community engagement, aid in business continuity plans, and digital transformation. Common Ground’s networking and property tech application, Ambition Engine comes in handy in spreading information especially nowadays.
Community plays an even bigger role now that people need to feel more connected than ever. It is important to keep them updated and be more understanding while everyone is facing the pandemic.
The New Normal
As industries face a challenging battle with COVID19, coworking spaces are starting to plan and reestablish their new normal once the ECQ is lifted. In compliance with the safety measures, Common Ground is exploring the implementation of social distancing throughout their space. For Penbrothers, they are pushing for more digital transformation in all their processes such as communication and even invoicing.
Although events have been a strong part of coworking, they will also be minimized to avoid huge crowds and will be done online if applicable. This adaptation to the new norm emphasized the need for companies to step up and provide solutions as the digital age is coming forward.
Difficult times lead us to better days
Now is the time to focus on communication with members and even employees; to try and be optimistic, and learn more about what coworking space operators can provide. Werker noted that this is the time for coworking to innovate in terms of product offering and approach to cater to various clients. Despite the situation, these leaders believe that these difficult times only push companies to strive more and see the silver lining and push for innovation.