The coronavirus has had a massive impact on multiple businesses especially restaurants, hospitality and airline sector. The impact of this on coworking spaces is also tremendous.
Coworking spaces offer flexible, usually monthly, workspaces to clients with limited lock-ins and notice periods. With many companies sending their employees to work from home, the flexible office spaces are the first ones to see the drop-in occupancy.
Coworking spaces have been putting in place measures to deal with the virus such as sanitization of office spaces, provision of sanitisers and masks to all members within the spaces. But this will not be able to curtail the drop-in occupancy which may continue till there is some clarity as to the severity of the pandemic.
Hotel Association and Restaurant Associations have been lobbying with various groups to ensure that they can manage their liabilities in the short or medium term. Similarly, I believe that operators of coworking spaces should join hands through a coworking association to better represent their interests to various stakeholders.
While currently, the reported numbers in India are not substantial at all, this number may change drastically as the parameter for testing is expanded to include people who do not have travel history or have not been in close contact with people who have travel history.
Currently in India more than 150 people are reported to have the coronavirus. To put this in context, India adds about 1.2 million new cancer cases every year and about 30 million people in India have diabetes. I do believe we can bounce back from this pandemic and continue to work towards innovative ideas and businesses.
But the few months of economic distress might put some small and medium size businesses as well as early stage and high growth company in severe cash crunch that they might not be able to recover from. This will definitely have an impact on coworking spaces who typically house early stage and high growth company among other larger companies who may be better equipped to deal with the downturn in the short term.
The impact on human suffering due to loss of Income and livelihood may even be far greater than the impact of the illness itself. Let us stand together and work hard to ensure that we recover from this financially and economically as quickly as possible.