Photo by Edward Jenner from Pexels

If you run a coworking space, chances are you are a people person - you believe in pressing the flesh and good ideas being generated by having people in the same room.

Not only is it harder to bring people together when they’ve got to remain two metres (or three fridges) apart but in order to make your space safe you’ve probably also had to wave goodbye to lots of thoughtful little details designed to make your workspace inviting and unique. Monday morning breakfast club? Out. Complimentary massages? Yikes. Out! Mason jars of fizzy cola bottles? Talk about germ party central. OUT!

But just because you are doing everything you can to keep your members safe, doesn’t mean you have to lose everything that makes your space unique by turning into a sterile, identikit, socially distanced environment. Here are four ways to keep your space’s personality while still promoting social distancing.

1. Welcome back kits for members

One tip for employers is that they should give their employees welcome back kits, that include things like their own mug and water bottle to cut down on shared glassware and crockery. This is a great idea for coworking spaces - not only do you get to encourage good hygiene but it’s also an opportunity to show your members that you missed them by labelling the kits individually or even including a handwritten note. It’s a two for one!

2. Signs with personality

The Government advice for reopening offices includes recommendations to clearly display information about proper hygiene and good handwashing practice. But just because you are reminding people to sneeze into the crooks of their elbows (followed by quickly incinerating their clothing), doesn’t mean you have to do so in a way that is devoid of personality.

You can design your own branded material on a free graphic design website like Canva which even has templates specifically about hygiene (we recommend going for the one about ‘keeping our workplace safe’ rather than the potty chart, but, hey, it’s your call).

Alternatively, Wash Your Lyrics is a great website where you can choose any song and it will automatically generate a hand washing infographic based on that song.

Plus, if your signs are a bit different from the boilerplate, there’s a better chance of people reading them and - hopefully - following the advice.

3. Online events

To keep the coworking spirit alive during lockdown, lots of spaces have turned their attention to online events, from yoga classes to working together online to panel discussions. If you are able to, keep these events going - they’ll be appreciated by those who members have returned and those members who - for whatever reason - may have to continue to keep self-isolating.

If you’re running out of inspiration, maybe try something to do with meditation or mindfulness - we hear people are quite stressed at the moment.

4. Social distancing props that look good

Just because you need people to keep a safe distance, doesn’t mean the place has to look like a cross between a prison visiting room and a police crime scene.

While it’s important to make clear how you want people to behave in the space, you can also use your layout to subtly encourage certain behaviours, for example by using plant pots to direct the flow of movement through the space or placing chairs on the desks that should be left empty.

It might not seem like much but adding these little nudges can have a dramatic impact on how people behave: we know that interior design can impact whether people take the stairs or even shoplift.

Above all, remember that even though you are physically distancing your members, you can still be social. Your coworking space is about the community you’ve managed to build - and that remains no matter how many jars of fizzy cola bottles you have to sacrifice along the way.

How are you keeping your space’s personality alive? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.