What does coworking look like when the physical space is closed?

When it became clear that flattening the curve would need a commitment from all local businesses, two local Portland, Oregon coworking companies knew immediately that the best decision would be to close their physical spaces.

Collective Agency and VIDA Coworking’s spaces closed in late March, and respective owners Alex Linsker and Melanie Marconi swiftly moved much of their programming online to maintain as many member amenities and offerings as possible.

Eighty percent of their members have committed to pay their membership fees during this unprecedented time.

How is COVID-19 impacting the bottom line? With rents still due, critical staff to support, and ongoing operating expenses, incoming revenue will be critical to reopening. Both companies were pleased to see that a majority of their members made the commitment to continue their monthly membership fees, and both have applied for SBA and Prosper Portland aid programs.

Both have also developed unique online offerings and work sessions to maintain the sense of community and camaraderie that individuals and businesses seek when they join a coworking space. Now, via Zoom, they have been able to continue to offer their weekly yoga and meditation classes and Friday Happy Hour, as well as their Masterminds Group and a previously scheduled Podcasting 101 series. New offerings include a weekly virtual coworking session, enhanced video content, and, for members’ kids, themed activities and a weekly “playdate” with yoga and storytelling.

While it is uncertain when the physical spaces will reopen to their members and the public, it is clear that their communities have rallied to keep the businesses viable, and that community and coworking can continue online.

Open since 2011, Collective Agency now hosts more events than before—lunch every weekday, game nights, StoryShare dinners, crafting, a book club, and Pomodoro coworking. Events are organized by members at the workplace democracy meetings and via Slack. Friendships, learning, and in-depth open conversations with laughter make great days that help us be more productive and profitable.

Open since July 2019, VIDA’s regular schedule included daily fitness classes, a drop-in childcare program, health and wellness appointments, and member classes and events.

“Since our founding, we’ve been committed to helping members make their very full lives work – and during this time of COVID-19, it has taken on a new meaning… while I never imagined that we would be cultivating community online, it’s been inspiring to see how our members are adapting, and I am so appreciative of their commitment and flexibility,” shared Melanie Marconi, founder of VIDA.

Thanks to the strong networks they’ve created and the quick actions they took to pivot and move online, Marconi and Linsker feel that their businesses will remain viable during this time, and are enthusiastic to reopen their physical locations once the curve has flattened.

Image credit: Photo courtesy of fotografierende.