The Covid crisis has spared few and also the coworking sector had to pay a high price.
Coworking spaces were among the first to suffer from the initial lockdown in March 2020. As soon as it was announced, attendance plummeted and all meetings and events were cancelled. Attendance at Topos centres in March/April/May 2020 bottomed out at around 3%. This led to subscription cancellations and requests for rent reductions by many customers who were not only unable to come to the office but also suffered financially from the crisis. The sector’s turnover has obviously been heavily impacted.
In the face of the health crisis, many coworking centres have experienced great difficulties.
Some have taken refuge under a PRJ (judicial reorganisation procedure), others have quietly shut down their operations and, sadly, many have filed for bankruptcy.
When the measures were relaxed during the summer months of 2020, many freelance and SME coworkers unable to work from home and craving social interaction, however small, came back to Topos. However, larger “corporate” companies returned to the office only in small numbers, if at all, and kept their employees teleworking.
At the end of September 2020 the measures were tightened again, thereby further slowing down the return to the office by mainly corporate employees. However, self-employed people did not want to relive March 2020 and continued to frequent our spaces, albeit at a reduced rate.
In September 2021, where are we 18 months after the start of the pandemic? In the spring of 2020, Topos was able to implement health protocols which helped reassure workers and increase attendance.
Apps such as “House party”, “Zoom” and “Teams” of the first months of 2020 have since May 2021 been replaced by face-to-face meetings in the Topos centres. The return to normalcy or near-normalcy has begun.
Social interaction has been so drastically restricted by the various government measures that getting together at the office from time to time gives workers a breath of fresh air.
Topos organised its summer barbecues – respecting the number of guests imposed by the Codeco rules – in July 2021 (the 2020 edition was of course cancelled). Never before had it felt so good to get together and participate in such an event. It was the best edition since the creation of Topos.
At the end of August, the meeting room occupancy rate stood at 70% of the pre-Covid level. The coworking spaces reached almost their full capacity in terms of the number of contracts that Topos can accept (95%), which had never happened before. The demand for coworking continues to grow.
Corporate customers are also returning but at a slower pace. Fifty-five percent have found their way back to Topos.
The return to the old life is certainly not for tomorrow, but the return to the office is happening.
Covid has permanently changed the way workers work and the coworking formula is becoming an established alternative solution for workers.