Co-working in the Time of Coronavirus

With a nocturnal curfew imposed now in Egypt, some co-working spaces share their strategies.
Co-working in the Time of Coronavirus
Source: Drew Beamer

After checking up on the startup ecosystem last week, we were wondering how co-working spaces survived the pandemic. On March 11th, The Greek Campus started sending out COVID-19 themed newsletters to its community. Through the seven e-mails from March 11th to 24th, you can sense the crescendo of concern in the e-mails’ subject lines as we approached new updates leading up to the nocturnal curfew imposed by the Egyptian government that started on March 25th.

With four spaces around Egypt, varying from 600 to 300 square meters, Almaqarr receives in total more than 500 people visiting every day.

In March, Almaqarr decided to shutdown to all rooms with no strong ventilation and decreased other room capacities to half. Equipping every corner with sanitizers, they also increased the frequency of daytime cleaning and sanitization of all high touch points.

“A shut-down will definitely have an impact on our business. However, this is a great opportunity for us to work out new revenue streams and new ways to do business.”

Abdel Qader Khaled, Managing Partner, AlMaqarr

Even new co-working spaces that are still chasing time to break even are taking extreme measures to encourage their community to flatten the curve. CO-55 has completely shut down a few hours before the curfew was imposed.

CO-55 is a 1200 square-meter co-working space located in Nasr City. It is home to 20 private offices, three meeting rooms, and one event room for 30 people, and a shared space that can accommodate 20.

“If things go on for longer, we will look into a contingency plan that includes reducing unnecessary expenses and discounting part of the monthly office rent for our companies.”

Farah Selim, Co-founder, CO-55

Shutting down for CO-55 translates to giving up between EGP 5,000 to 7,000 sales per day. Before deciding to shut down, CO-55 took the same measures taken by Almaqarr in addition to removing of all shared kitchenware such as mugs, plates, and utensils from the kitchen. 

Not so far away from CO-55, rests a five-floor co-working space called 302 Labs, that is still operating. With around 20 startups calling 302 Labs home, they cancelled all social activities and group activities that were organized every week, such as group breakfast.

“We are still operating, but we took some precautionary measures; decreasing the number of people in a room, and sanitizing the entire space in every three hours.”

Mai Zahran, PR Officer, 302 Labs

Some co-working spaces like Business Yard had to close after a police campaign sent by the Ministry of Social Solidarity told them they have to shut down.

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