Coworking During a Pandemic: Lessons Learned

This past year sucked.  We lived through a global pandemic and spent a good chunk of time staying home.  Sadly, many lives were lost.  Now, with vaccines in our arms and shrinking case counts, we’re starting to get our lives back to normal.  The new normal looks a lot like the old normal.  We go to restaurants, we hug each other, and for many of us, we go to the office to work.

As our BizHaus coworking spaces continue welcoming back new and existing members, we’ve been reflecting on some of the things we learned this past year.  First, we learned just how awesome it is to be part of a coworking community.  Although we couldn’t be together for a while, our community used Slack and Zoom to support each other.  We shared information on grants, loans and the PPP.  We also shared silly pet pictures and held virtual happy hours.  Here are some other things we learned.

Working from Home Doesn’t Work.

At first, we felt like kids on spring break.  Working from home definitely has some advantages.  Having no commute is nice; as is being able to work in pajamas.  However, what we eventually learned is that working from home isn’t sustainable.  For those of us without the distractions of kids and dogs, we found that silence can also be strangely distracting.  To counteract the silence, we turned up the music, sent Slack jokes to each other; and we ate.  We ate constantly.  We missed the inspiration and simple camaraderie that coworkers provide.  We became lonely and unproductive.  For many of us, it was a no-brainer to return to the office as soon as we were able to.

Change is Good.

As hard as the last year was, some good did come out of it.  We were forced to reassess our business models and make changes.  A BizHaus member in the theater business pivoted their focus to drive-in movies … Brilliant!  They will eventually reopen their theater venues, but will now have two diverse and viable revenue streams.  Another member in the protein bar business shifted their focus from retail sales to online sales and grew their revenue substantially during the pandemic.  Change is hard; but for most entrepreneurs, reacting to changes in the environment is a healthy and necessary step in growing a business. 

We Need Community.

It’s true.  Humans are social creatures and we need to be around each other.  Community is good and the isolation of a home office is bad.  Yes, we can gather virtually via Zoom, but nothing beats the real thing.  We learned just how much we missed gathering around the coffee machine to have conversations about clients, kids and Netflix. Since returning to BizHaus, we’ve celebrated birthdays together, had a few “real” happy hours, and most recently, celebrated Cinco de Mayo over tacos and beer!  We no longer take for granted the buzz of our coworkers typing, talking and (sometimes) singing around us.

Yes, the new normal looks a lot like the old normal.  We face challenges, we learn from them, and we make adjustments along the way.  Most importantly, we’re working together again.

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