A safe return to co-working in Sheffield How are the city’s co-working spaces making people feel safe and at home as they reopen? Claire FletcherNews6th May 2021Co-workingfreelancersMake yourself at home Sheffield’s co-working spaces fuel creativity in the city. The many freelancers, entrepreneurs, start-ups, micro-companies and generally excellent and creative people of Sheffield can be found collaborating, concentrating and creating in spaces like Sheffield Technology Parks, Kollider and Union Street. Co-working spaces provide a vital service to people working alone, without an ‘office’ to speak of. We are happy to see more people returning to co-working spaces after the second national lockdown and thought it would be useful to revisit this post (originally written in summer 2020) to remind you how these spaces are providing a safe, socially distanced working environment. Sheffield Technology Parks Sheffield Technology Parks was keen to safely reopen its co-working space – The Cooper Lounge – as soon as possible following last year’s lockdown, and this year was no different. Chief Executive, Tom Wolfenden, comments: “The New Year lockdown was disappointing news for our staff and customers. As we’ve said before, many of our co-workers live and work alone, and the lockdown restrictions have been really detrimental to productivity and mood.” Tom and his team have worked hard to keep the Cooper Buildings safe whilst restoring some normality to their clients’ daily lives. Co-working has been reduced in the Lounge from 16 to eight spaces, bookable before arrival (which you can do here) to ensure there is space. Other co-working spaces in the building have been expanded to accommodate more demand if needed. Coworking has been reduced in the Cooper Lounge from 16 to eight spaces. Tom continues, “A popular option for teams that have decided to go ‘remote-first’ is to get their staff together on a bi-monthly basis. It saves on having a full-time office but still offers vital collaboration time and a welcome touch point for staff. Users either opt for one of our meeting rooms, or our new Day Office – which is a fully fitted private office available for daily hire.” Sheffield Technology Parks is now open Monday-Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm. Kollider Eagle Lab To help all members use the building safely, Kollider has provided a guidance booklet which they advise is also given to any external visitors in advance. The guidance covers all social distancing and hygiene measures that are in place and states what users must do to comply. The booklet also details Track and Trace requirements and outlines the steps that must be taken if a case of COVID-19 is suspected in the building. Kollider has implemented a one-way flow system around the building, which asks users to move in an anti-clockwise direction around the co-working space. People are encouraged to use the stairs and must do so in single file, sticking to the right of the stairwell. In doorways where it isn’t possible to stay 2m apart, ‘pause points’ are marked, so that people can stop and wait at a safe distance if anyone is coming from the opposite direction. ‘Pause points’ are marked, so that people can stop and wait at a safe distance at Kollider. To reduce the risk of contamination from door handles, doors will be propped open wherever possible and regular touch points, such as bathroom door handles and taps, will be cleaned regularly throughout the day. In the co-working space, Flexi and Dedicated members will be allocated their own desk, and Flexi members will also be given a locker to store their belongings in when they aren’t using the space. Kollider has adopted a ‘leave no trace rule’, which applies to desks, kitchen areas and meeting rooms and asks users to wipe down all areas and equipment that they have used before leaving the space. Tissues, antibacterial wipes and bins are located in all of these spaces. Whilst meeting rooms are available, Kollider is asking people to use video-conferencing whenever possible to reduce the number of external visitors in the building. When meetings do take place, the 2m social distancing guidance must be applied and all visitors will be asked to complete a Track and Trace form. Use of the kitchen is limited and whilst prepared lunches can be brought in and food can be heated in the microwave (using your own container), lunches cannot be prepared in the kitchen. Kollider is asking all users to ‘own a mug’, using just this and keeping it at your desk or in your locker when you aren’t in. 32 Eyre Street (Wizu Workspace) Wizu Workspace has implemented a range of new protocols and processes that will enable members to safely access, use and operate from 32 Eyre Street in Sheffield. From the implementation of online screening tests for visitors, to a significant increase in cleaning procedures and a review of furniture layouts, the team has taken extra precautions to ensure members can return to a clean, safe and sanitised environment in which social distancing measures can be adhered to. Natasha Babar Evans, COO at Wizu Workspace said: “We were really keen to ensure that our members felt safe when the government eased the lockdown restrictions and we introduced a really robust COVID-19 return to work programme outlining all the changes we have made to our workspace to keep our members safe.” (You can read all of the measures Wizu Workspace has taken on its website.) Members can return to a clean, safe and sanitised environment in which social distancing measures can be adhered to at 32 Eyre Street. A new on-site gym has also officially launched at 32 Eyre Street and there will be classes from this month when restrictions ease. Co-workers can access the gym at a discounted rate and can benefit from two free taster days before signing up. There will also be an exciting events schedule for co-workers, once restrictions allow, to bring together the community at 32 Eyre Street. DeskSpace DeskSpace has three buildings dotted around the Kelham Island Quarter, offering a mixture of co-working and small flexible office spaces. The workspace company has adapted the layout of its offices and reduced the capacity to create social distancing. DeskSpace’s buildings are all very different; a modern build on Mowbray Street with 4 self-contained floors; a shipping container at Krynkl; and a Grade II listed old house at West Bar. This has meant that adjustments and new processes have differed for each, however staying in touch with users and communicating changes has been key to keeping everyone safe and informed. Amy Milchard, Partner at DeskSpace, says: “Maintaining contact with our Desk-Spacees and offering reassurance was top priority and we feel like we did that quite well. We increased the cleaning schedules and offered all our members additional anti-bac supplies. But more than that, we offered them the chance to give us their input on what would make them feel safe to come to work. “Depending on the stage of the lockdown and the tiers we’ve been through, we’ve done everything from completely closing to partially opening; and from operating with rotas to fully opening with safe changes to kitchen use and shared spaces.” DeskSpace’s buildings are all very different and include a shipping container at Krynkl with a private office space. DeskSpace has noticed that the type of enquiries they are getting have changed. Amy continues, “Many people are still working remotely or only going in on a rotation basis. This has led to employers looking for a way that their staff can work near home (as opposed to working from home). Multiple smaller offices appear to be one of the ways that employers are looking to maintain a happy workforce and reduce rent cost at the same time.” Union St To create the safest possible environment at Union St, use of the cafe and event space have been paused to expand physically-distanced workspace across all 4,000 square feet. Most chairs have been removed and those remaining are at least two meters apart, with face coverings worn throughout the building except whilst people are working at their desks. Union St has tried to create the safest possible physically-distanced workspace across all 4,000 square feet After a free trial each member can choose their favourite part of the building to work from, and their preferred days of working, to create a series of small member bubbles. Each morning the building is cleaned, and on arrival members collect a daily supply of table wipes and hand sanitiser at the front door. Matt Hill, manager at Union St, says, “I’ve been super grateful that the majority of Union St members continued their membership throughout lockdown even whilst working from home, and now each week sees the return of one or two members plus new friendly faces. “One thing we’ve all got in common is the experience that working from home nearly drove each one of us ‘stir crazy’, and – especially after the lockdown – it’s always brilliant to hear members saying how Union St improves work/life balance, generates new opportunities, and increases productivity.” Cubo Sheffield Cubo opened in Sheffield on April 1 2021 and is located on Carver Street. Cubo Sheffield consists of a large co-working area on the ground floor and three floors of private offices, designated desks, hot desks, meeting rooms and communal workspaces and kitchens. Cubo offers lots of additional benefits to their tenants including meeting rooms, phone booths, printing stations, and free beverages from the on-site barista. There are additional measures in place including increased cleaning, paying particular attention to key areas such as door handles and reception areas and there are full handwashing facilities in place throughout the building. Cubo Sheffield opened on April 1 2021 and has put additional cleaning measures in place. Soon, the space will also include a public rooftop bar. ‘Alto’ will open on the top floor of 38 Carver Street later this month and will be launching in line with the Government guidelines and advice for pubs and restaurants. It will house two bars, a VIP area, and an external roof terrace giving brilliant views across Sheffield and the city’s developing skyline. Spaces Acero Spaces Acero is home to comfy private offices, co-working spaces, and meeting rooms with admin support. Spaces has followed the World Health Organisation’s guidelines throughout the pandemic to create a safe and happy workplace environment. Co-working areas have been expanded to ensure that all workers have a safe space around them to work in. Co-workers have their own lockable storage facility so that they can keep their belongings separate, safe and clean. Co-working areas at Spaces Acero have been expanded to ensure that all workers have a safe space around them. Frequently touched points and high traffic areas within the centre are regularly disinfected, as are common areas such as the kitchen and entrances. Physical distancing is required throughout the building and Spaces asks residents to use the stairs rather than the lift. Workers are also encouraged to wear face coverings when travelling throughout the building and hand sanitiser and wipes are provided free of charge. Find a co-working space The spaces we have featured in this post are all listed on our Digital Ecosystem map, showing where they are in the city. You’ll find several other co-working spaces listed on there too and a quick visit to their website should tell you if they have reopened.