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Coworking in a time of Covid-19

We are a resilient nation with a leader who has taken the necessary and urgent steps to help safeguard our lives and our businesses. As South Africans, we understand what it takes to operate under difficult economic conditions, but we will fight this new battle and overcome all the obstacles we face in very the near future.

The Business Exchange TBE is helping combat this threat by instituting internal policies and procedures for all TBE staff and tenants. Here is an overview of what we are doing and how we can assist businesses in this time of need.

There is currently significant panic across the world thanks to the rapid spread of COVID-19, known more commonly as coronavirus.

As many countries take drastic steps in an attempt to reduce the impact, a number of companies have also put an array of meaningful practices in place to help employees stay ahead of the virus, avoid infection and to prevent contamination of the work space.

While there is a case to be made for working remotely, combined with self-isolation for anyone who feels ill, many companies are concerned that members of their team who work from home will struggle without access to all the resources necessary for them to optimally do their jobs. In addition, some industries just don’t lend themselves to remote working. Perhaps then, the solution is to separate the workforce and distribute them among coworking spaces.

Allow me to be clear that I take the health and wellness of The Business Exchange’s (TBE) tenants very seriously. There have been over 150 000 cases worldwide, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that our coworking spaces are clean, sanitised and that tenants are equipped with all the necessary information to keep themselves safe. Our offices are cellular and not open-plan, so the spaces also allow for isolated working where necessary.

During this time, coworking spaces are available to employers who want to separate their teams and minimise the risk of the spread of any virus among members. The majority of coworking spaces are closed offices dedicated to separate companies and work teams so there is a lower risk of cross-infection.

At TBE we have distributed, and will continue to circulate emails and notices detailing hygiene and other tips. Below are some of the things that we have implemented at TBE (that can also be used in other spaces as well as in the home):

1. There are hand sanitizer machines at all entrances as well as other access points within our office spaces that everyone can make use of when entering the offices and during the day when required.

2. Additional regular cleaning of all communal areas is being carried out, while we advise anyone with private offices to take extra care and precautions.

3. If someone is identified as being ill, they will be asked to seek medical assistance.

4. Those who have returned to South Africa since 1 March 2020 are asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

There are also a number of precautions that everyone can take. This is based on the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO):

1. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water.

2. Maintain social distancing at least 1 metre (3 feet) from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth if you have not washed your hands.

4. Practise respiratory hygiene, use your hands as cover if you sneeze or cough.

5. If you have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing seek medical care.

6. Take extra precautions if you have any underlying health issues.

As a final piece of advice, continue to monitor the situation and make decisions upon the advice of the NICD and WHO). It is my hope that the virus will be under control sooner, rather than later.

David Seinker is the Founder and Chief Executive of The Business Exchange

(Also published in IOL Online)

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