There is no doubt that the way we work and live during the COVID-19 pandemic will have a strong impact on the future practices and trends in the coliving segment. In order to tackle this hot topic, we were invited to participate as speakers in the virtual coliving meetup organised by Co-Liv on the 16th of April, an initiative gathering coliving experts, researchers and enthusiasts both from The Netherlands and from all over the world. The aim of the discussion was to exchange thoughts on how to deal with the coronavirus crisis at different levels.
We have been inspired by the optimistic spirit that is fuelling the vision of this industry and is looking after the crisis. To get a better understanding of the conversation, grab a coffee and have a look at the insights we gathered about the most interesting topics raised during the event.
In the globalised world, where people can relocate easily and hardly ever stay in the same place for all their lives, mobility will slow down, at least for a while. Living and working will become intertwined. As we may be asked to stay more at home and work remotely, coliving spaces face the huge opportunity of being a multi-function space. Home and office might be perceived as one by the majority of the population, which will lead to the hybridisation of buildings. In order to adapt to this new lifestyle, developers will have to go through a spatial transformation of their buildings to serve the latest needs of working residents. Additionally, this will also lead to a positive impact on the environment, as travelling and the commuting time are almost non-existent.
In the near future, rural living might also grow as many people have left the urban bubble to go back to the countryside and work remotely from there. This group might choose to stay there even after the COVID-19 due to lower housing prices, better air conditions and lower housing density. For example, an attendee stated that in Vietnam coliving has been doing better since COVID-19 started: due to a tighter budget, people are moving from expensive apartments to cheaper accommodations in rural areas supplied by coliving operators.
On the other hand, the spread of pandemic raises huge health concerns. The virus will not disappear immediately when the lockdown will be over. Taking adequate hygiene measures and facilitating good practices within shared areas will become crucial to ensure safety and security in coliving spaces.
Until we wait for the ending of this chapter of history, we listed the main recommendations and tips, discussed in the virtual meeting, regarding what community operators, business owners and other stakeholders can do as of now:
1. Try to prepare for the worst and think for the best
Risk management is the key to a successful survival. Define different future desirable and undesirable scenarios that are applicable to your situation and prepare a plan of action for every possibility.
2. Stay home, stay safe, take care of your health
In order to flatten the curve, everyone needs to follow the measures and guidelines set by the official governmental sources. At the same time, make sure to maintain a healthy routine – dedicate enough time to sleeping, exercising and nourishing the body to keep a positive attitude and energy to come up with innovative ideas. Use the time saved for commuting to create a deeper connection with your family, colleagues and friends by using the digital tools.
3. Focus on long-term relationships
The recent rise of real estate prices will probably take a turn back and the demand for flexible operating models to increase resilience will increase. If you are a well-established player, for example, you may consider setting up payment schemes of rental fees for tenants that are unable to afford to pay the rent due to the current situation. Maintaining a strong community is crucial to keep the brand alive and prospering. To do so, it is important to begin a clear conversation process between building operators, residents and landlords.
4. Move to the digital world
Take advantage of the available tools and move your operations online. There are many great applications that enable communication, such as Zoom, Skype and Slack. Under the pressure of time a quick call can help to make a decision quicker, so take advantage of these tools to reach out to your colleagues and partners. As all society shifts to digital, embrace this change also within the communities living in coliving spaces. We are all human and we want to feel connected, now more than ever. Increasing your engagement through social media and experience-driven online campaigns can help you gain the loyalty of current and future tenants.
5. Try out new media solutions and get the most out of them
Train your operational team about virtual reality tours. Create a virtual experience for your community and potential tenants to let them wander through the rooms, communal spaces and surrounding areas. Another possibility is to interact with your audience through the use of augmented reality. The possibilities are endless, learn more about New Media Services in our website.
6. Take a moment to step back, observe and innovate
Thanks to the available technology, we are still able to link up with our colleagues and maintain meaningful connections with all the stakeholders. This is the time to gather new ideas, re-think concepts, craft solutions and understand the shifting customer behaviour in order to effectively offer a product or service.
According to several projections, the pandemic may be the worst economic crisis since post World War II, but the main difference is that we will all be equally affected by its effects on society, mobility, working and more. We may fall and we may fall hard, but we are falling together and we can (and will) help each other to get up afterwards.
To close it up, remember: things will get better. Reality will definitely not stay the same, as fear and hesitance among communities may remain for a while. As a result of this surprising turn, companies are forced to evaluate the situation, re-asses and adapt.
We recently published an article on SPX Lab where we analysed how this uncertain situation can be seen as a blueprint of the future of working, considering benefits and threats of remote working, the relation between the digital and real world, the hybridisation of space and the importance of building a community for a healthy workspace. Read the full article here!
As forward thinkers, designers, strategists and problem solvers, if you are currently struggling with any of the above mentioned challenges we would be glad to help you find the right solutions for your specific case. Please feel free to contact us and let’s think about the future together. Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter below to be the first to receive fresh insights straight to your inbox!