How China’s return to work informs new workspaces

Businesses in China are keeping employees safe by de-densifying their office spaces and increasing sanitization

Traces of normalcy are emerging in some areas of the world, but some parts of our daily lives will not look normal for a very long time. The workplace is a prime example. 

Commercial buildings worldwide are making drastic modifications to minimize the threat of continuous COVID-19 spread. In a recent WeWork webinar featuring Tong Yang, head of sales for WeWork China, we learned some of the ways that companies in China are keeping their employees safe. We’re implementing many of these changes in our own WeWork spaces.

As you partner with your clients to navigate their changing needs during the coronavirus pandemic, WeWork is here to support you. Whether your client needs to make a quick move because they’ve decided not to renew their lease or are looking to you to learn about their options, WeWork has a range of solutions to proactively address the new workplace that we’re building together. 

Rethinking common and private spaces 

One of the first steps to limit the spread of COVID-19—and perhaps one of the most challenging for China’s populated cities—is to introduce new density standards in commercial buildings. Chinese businesses have introduced more distance between desks and instituted one-way flows in the hallways, to reduce contact among employees, says Yang. 

As part of WeWork’s plan to keep our members safe, we’re rethinking the use of common spaces throughout our locations. Lounges and meeting rooms will be reconfigured to offer more space between people. Four-person seating arrangements will become one- or two-person setups. And work nooks will be limited to one person per booth. 

For private office spaces, your clients can keep their employees together while reducing overall density with WeWork’s expand-in-place model. Rather than 40 employees occupying one office, for example, your clients will be able to split across four offices. This helps ensure that regulations to maintain six feet (or two meters) of distance between people are met, and all employees can remain in the same building. 

WeWork stays on top of the latest government regulations for distancing standards, which means your clients can feel confident returning to work. Our members’ safety is our priority, and our space is designed with their health top of mind

Disseminating your client’s workforce 

Beyond establishing distancing policies, WeWork is primed to help your clients disseminate their workforce. Businesses in China have begun to spread out their work campuses, opening up multiple offices across cities to reduce commuting and exposure to COVID-19 on public transportation. 

“The trends we have seen over the past several years of companies moving to a hub-and-spoke office strategy and moving away from centralized headquarters will now be sped up,” says Yang. 

With 828 locations around the world, WeWork can help your clients find space that meets their needs across multiple buildings, cities, states, or countries. Whether that’s finding local touchdown spaces closer to where employees live or helping them spread out across multiple satellite offices, we will collaborate with you to find the right solution. 

Helping your clients navigate construction delays

Construction is now on hold in most parts of the world, says Yang, which has delayed the opening of new locations and has negatively impacted the companies that had planned to move into new offices. This can be particularly frustrating for clients who may have already been bursting at the seams in their offices and now require even more space to make sure employees are properly distanced. 

But Yang is already seeing brokers in China positioning WeWork as a great solution. “Because we offer move-in-ready space, WeWork China has seen a strong uptick in demand from enterprises in Q1 of 2020,” he says. 

This can be a major sell to your clients facing unexpected gaps in lease continuity, giving them access to office space fast so they don’t have to compromise headcount growth. 

WeWork’s flexible lease terms also provide added financial relief. While the economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19 is forcing companies to reconsider lease terms, WeWork can work with your clients to craft flexible terms, from month-to-month to one or more years. Not only does this give your clients more freedom, but it can also save them valuable operational expenditures. As they exit long-term leases, we can offer them affordable space so they’re able to reinvest back into their businesses. 

Managing your client’s sanitization needs 

Your clients might have the space they need to maintain a healthy physical distance, but they also need to start thinking about how they plan to keep the workspace clean. 

“The building operators and office occupiers that are going to thrive in this post-COVID world are the ones that can communicate and prove (ideally with data) that they have healthy workspaces and control over their environment,” says Yang. 

Your clients can be certain that we are taking the lead in making sure that their workspaces are properly cleaned—and often. With our enhanced disinfection protocols and strategically placed hands-free sanitization stations, your clients don’t have to worry about the added cost or hassle associated with stocking cleaning supplies or hiring additional custodial services. All of this is part of the WeWork membership. 

To read about our enhanced cleaning and sanitization practices, as well as how we will continue to evolve to keep our members and your clients safe, check out our resource site here

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