The covid-19 crisis has highlighted the need for companies to renew their workspaces, with flexible and adaptable solutions.

The pandemic we are experiencing has resulted in the greatest home-working experience to date. Companies have massively adopted teleworking, an instant solution to avoid all contact between employees. Co-working spaces, which advocate proximity as an asset to promote networking between individuals, have lain empty. However, safeguarding the economy has forced companies to recreate suitable, calm, secure work spaces that comply with the new health measures. Many have set up their workspaces to stem any spread of the virus and support the professional needs of their staff.

This development was already foreseen and anticipated by Welkin & Meraki when creating the concept of premium flexible workspaces for corporate companiesAs Alain Brossé, its founder and CEO, points out: “We knew that workspaces were going to evolve towards more humane, flexible and high-end solutions. We also knew that this evolution had to involve more elegant, comfortable concepts, and above all putting human needs back at the heart of the facilities. Space, distancing, elegance and calm were already obvious standards to enable us to work effectively in private offices or co-working spaces. In lockdown, many have discovered that working remotely, away from the office, really is an option”.

“Today, companies understand that flexible workspace solutions will become the norm for all types of companies, especially large groups, which strive to remain adaptable and responsive to events of all types. This crisis has demonstrated the relevance of our concept, because in addition to offering spaces conducive to concentration and innovation, we are offering our customers full compliance with hygiene standards, in a high-end environment which safeguards staff confidentiality and health.”

A reinvented dynamic

As an international player in the sector, with a concept aimed at corporate companies looking for premium solutions, Welkin & Meraki has readily adapted to the health crisis. With social distancing already integrated between each workstation, the company needed only to add additional services, from the early days of lockdown. We had only to add social distancing in meeting rooms and corporate co-working spaces; keep a skeleton staff on site to assist the customers present; offer absolute flexibility in the layout of shared offices; include remote management of mail and telephone calls for virtual office customers, and of course open access to all customers 24/7, with continuous cleaning and disinfection of work spaces.

Only yesterday, the idea of bringing all staff together in large head offices in large open-plan spaces or using shared workspaces to promote networking was very attractive. But the covid-19 crisis led to the biggest wave of teleworking ever, to contain the pandemic. The proximity inherent in shared workspaces has become a real obstacle to everyone’s safety. To save the economy, quick ways had to be found to allow staff to keep working safely, while observing social distancing. Some players in workspace outsourcing had to quickly alter the layout of their office and co-working spaces.

Many today have to reassess their services and reconsider face-to-face working, which has become a risk factor. Redeveloping offices, with considerable losses of floorspace, fitting of plastic screens and signage for observing distances, alternating attendance for the members of each team, virtual business plans, alternate manning of telephone, etc. These are all measures to “patch up” and make workspaces flexible, as they have become unsuited to the global health situation.

Flexibility and adaptability were at the very heart of Welkin & Meraki’s concept, long before the covid-19 crisis. The offices were already spaced 2m apart. Moreover, the choice of the size of the workstations of 1.40 m imposed a distance which has today become the health standard. The cleaning and disinfection services already organised twice a day were simply ramped up to four times a day, from the first days of the crisis. The shared spaces – lounges, corporate co-working, kitchens, sanitary facilities, etc., designed to offer comfort, tranquility and concentration to all, included sufficient space to comply with distancing standards within the original layout. All this comes in an elegant and peaceful environment.

“The current context has accelerated developments that we had already foreseen when creating our concept. While this crisis has shown businesses that people need to be together, to share experiences, and that closeness is still a human need, it has demonstrated just how well flexible solutions for fully equipped workspaces meet the need for immediate adaptability, in a globalised economy facing unpredictable emergencies”, says Alain Brossé, CEO of Welkin & Meraki. “The networking opportunities offered by operating in shared spaces, together with flexibility and security, are the major assets that today make this industry the sustainable solution for all businesses, even in times of crisis.”

Space as a service, and adaptability are keys to continuity

This crisis has highlighted how important it is for businesses to be able to adapt overnight to any context, in order to remain competitive regardless of changing needs. Flexibility, premium services, control of fixed costs and development of networking are major assets for a business’s sustainability. Space, still necessary for human development but seen by some as a loss of profitability, is becoming a real added value. Welkin & Meraki embodies this trend, as it gradually redefines an essential condition for continuing to work in times of crisis.

Far from preconceived ideas about ‘trendy’ and colourful co-working for young people and start-ups, high-end flexible offices, designed for large companies, advocate “space as a service” and are becoming places that marry the latest technology with a full range of high-end professional services:

  • “Techiture”, the interaction between technology and architecture, reigns in these places, and is one of the most important factors of the next great revolution in working methods.
  • Quality networking turns flexible offices into talent incubators, beehives for the forthcoming innovations that will help determine our new way of working. It’s all about being where change is happening today and making connections, working together and innovating.
  • Paying attention to the health of individuals in the layout of workspaces in terms of materials, light, and the quality of food and drink, is becoming essential for the talent of today and tomorrow.

At Welkin & Meraki, the premium services are a response to changing mindsets, expectations and working methods. A capacity to look ahead and continuously adapt, based on the future and the outlook, rather than on the short term.

“The crisis has taught us two things: it is dangerous to have all staff gathered in the same place, even in company headquarters, but keeping everyone at home is also harmful (lack of efficient technical services, loss of human ties, complexity of remote management, etc.). We already knew this, but the crisis has brought it into the spotlight: teleworking will eventually become the norm. Corporate companies will have to decentralise their workforce and distribute staff across different locations if they are to adapt quickly to any new situation. The flexibility, adaptability and premium services that we offer really are the solutions for the future for businesses, however large or small, and especially in times of crisis”, concludes Alain Brossé.