COVID-19: the industry of “coworking” should reinvent itself

COVID-19: l’industrie du «coworking» devra se réinventer

MONTREAL – The industry of the “coworking” (or cotravail) will have to redefine its business model, juggling both with new measures of social distancing and the influx of customers that could be brought on by the reorganization of certain enterprises.

The basic concept of the cotravail is put at the disposal of clients of the common areas for work, and this becomes problematic if all the world must stand two meters away from each other.

The owner of the ATM and Coffee, Gabriel Dancause, believes that the social distancing is almost impossible in its shared workspace of a score of offices focused on 700 square feet of space in the Mile End in Montreal.

“If I remove two-thirds of the seats, I have to increase my prices double and I don’t want to do that. Nobody is going to keep the subscription if I double my price,” he explained.

The self-employed constitute an important part of the customer spaces of cotravail and several of them could not bear such a price increase. The fear of public spaces caused by the epidemic of coronavirus risk to weigh in the balance as well.

Although it is no longer profitable, the GAB Cafe does not close its doors for the time being. However, Mr. Dancause is already planning to reduce its capacity. “If I open, I’m going to reserve only six seats for my members in order of seniority”, he detailed.



Glimmer of hope

All is not black in the future of the cotravail. A lot of people are now teleworking, and some are wondering how long they will take, especially if they have children at home or a dwelling that is not conducive to work.

The needs for socialization are also felt.

Already, some companies are considering turning to the cotravail to find a solution middle ground between office work and work at home. The shared workspace Halte 24-7, which has an office on The Plateau Mont-Royal and another on the South Shore, has already received requests in this direction.

“There are many who will seek alternatives to make their team meetings without paying an enormous rent,” said co-founder Olivier Berthiaume.

According to Gabriel Campeau, owner of the White board in Saint-Henri and co-founder of the NPO Quebec Coworking, the only thing that is certain is that the industry will have to transform to survive.

“It would require a crystal ball to be able to guess what is coming to the coworking”, writes the sociologist.


The more isolated spaces of cotravail



The pandemic leads initiatives that unusual; the owner of the ATM and Coffee, Gabriel Dancause has set in motion the project, ABM City, which will ultimately the rental of mini-homes for coworking at the edge of the river, away from the metropolis.

“It speaks to Montrealers who want to come and work a month or two in the region,” said the latter.

The project is in the funding phase, but comply with all the standards of social distancing, according to the contractor.

“[The idea] is to make the distance and put the world to the great outdoors. The houses will be round and the community space will be fairly large”, he said.

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