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And We’re Back: coLab’s Post-COVID Reopening Plan

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Roses are red, violets are blue/

coLab is reopening with a whole ton of new measures in place that we’re going to talk about today to keep y’all in the loop/

WOOHOO!

That’s right…after being forced back to our home offices, kitchen tables, basements, etc for 2 months, we can now proudly and joyfully say that coLab is gradually reopening for business.

(That means no more having to load your desk and monitor into a camper van and roam around the city looking for a faster WiFi connection.)

Two months ago, the COVID-19 pandemic upended life as we know it. Out of an abundance of caution, the Okanagan coLab closed its doors and moved its entire operations online.

In that time, we introduced a number of online events to keep our community connected during the active phase of the pandemic, using Zoom calls and our Slack workspace to maintain collaboration and promote a sense of togetherness even if we couldn’t be in the same room.

We had Think Tank Thursdays to help coLabbers find solutions to business challenges.

We had Fri-YAY every week, a fun social gathering where we could down some brews, blow off steam, and socialize.

We even had online yoga to help members find a sense of calm.

The community came together in a powerful way, and a lot of great things came out of a bad situation. Some of those things will be sticking around in one form or another as we transition into this next phase.

Which brings us to the one burning question that everyone wants answered: How we’re getting ready to allow members back into our physical office space.

Preventative Measures We’re Taking to Keep Members Safe

Now, we don’t have a blank cheque to just go back to business as usual. COVID-19 isn’t gone, and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says that we could still see a second wave in the fall. Dr. Henry has also said that in order to maintain public safety, all of us must adapt to a new normal until we have either a vaccine or a highly effective treatment.

Here’s what coLab’s new normal will look like.

Cleaning intensification.

coLab has created a new set of cleaning procedures that our employees will be following. We have created a checklist of common areas and items that our staff will be sanitizing multiple times per day or after each use.

Additionally, we have created a separate list of high-touch surfaces that will be cleaned and disinfected on a more frequent schedule as well as when visibly dirty. These surfaces include:

  • Doorknobs
  • Handrails
  • Light switches
  • Cabinet handles
  • Faucet handles
  • Tables
  • Countertops
  • Electronics 

We will be using government-recommended products that both clean and disinfect, including:

  • Heavy-duty non-acid cleaner/disinfectant
  • Multi-surface cleaner
  • Hard surface sanitizer
  • Hand sanitizer with touch-free dispensers

Sanitizing products will be kept in easily accessible areas and will be available for use by all members.

Finally, we’re hanging posters around the space that contain information about:

  • Proper hand-washing technique
  • Cleaning procedures to be followed when cleaning common areas, including meeting rooms
  • Instructions for employees and members to disinfect surfaces regularly
  • Instructions for employees and members to maintain social distance and avoid touching their faces
  • Instructions for employees and members to stay home if they or a member of their household is sick

Air regeneration. 

coLab will be implementing several measures to increase the rate at which the indoor air is purified of contaminants.

Firstly, we’ll be installing new air purifiers and HEPA filters around the space.

Secondly, we’ll be looking at ways to improve airflow throughout the building.

And finally, we’ll be adding to our collection of plants throughout coLab. Studies by researchers at NASA and several universities have found that plants are capable of absorbing several noxious compounds, including benzene and formaldehyde. Plants also absorb air particles, which SARS-CoV-2 particles may float on.

Access control.

coLab will be controlling access to its physical space in order to allow for appropriate social distancing.

At this time, ONLY coLab members will be permitted in the space. We will not be receiving guests, and we will not be hosting public events.

Priority access will be given to full-time members. We have already started reaching out to our Studio and Resident members to schedule mandatory safety orientations.

We will also be staggering the scheduling of hot desks and meeting rooms to allow our team an opportunity to clean and disinfect rooms and desks in between uses.

Mail services and parcel pickup will still be available, but will be scheduled to minimize close contact between community members.

Redistribution of space.

coLab will be reorganizing the physical office space in several ways in order to help maintain physical distance between members.

We will be installing barriers and partitions to prevent members from coming into contact with each other’s droplets. 

We will be expanding the amount of physical distance between desks.

We will be decreasing the number of touchpoints in the space.

Finally, we will be establishing one-way walking routes through the space that we expect everyone to follow at all times.

What Hasn’t Changed: Our Sense of Community

This is a challenging time for all of us. We recognize that these new measures may be an inconvenience and that some members may find the physical office space less useful or less efficient to navigate as a result.

But we’re doing these things for a very important reason: To keep our community safe. 

As we move forward into our new normal, we must remember to prioritize the well-being of the people around us. We must rely on each other to make the right choices, and we must each make the right choices for those who rely on us. We must maintain our sense of belonging and togetherness. We must continue to be open and inclusive toward other people, even if the physical space isn’t as accessible.

The same values that have made coLab what it is — community, creativity, collaboration, productivity, and fun — are what will get us through this next phase. Our values haven’t changed — the situation has changed, and as a result, we must express our values in a different way. 

We are doing all of these things to keep each other safe and healthy, and to protect the vulnerable members of our community. Each of us has a role to play in keeping coLab strong.

How These Changes Will Benefit Members

We can’t promise a risk-free work environment. But these changes will mitigate a significant amount of risk. Making these changes will help us slow the spread of infection and protect our community. Making these changes will help us to keep the curve flat. And making these changes will give so many of us what we all crave: A safe way to engage in community again.

What Comes Next

These measures will be in place for the foreseeable future — that is, until there is either a widely-available vaccine or a highly effective treatment for COVID-19.

Throughout this phase of reopening we will be following the recommendations of our Public Health Officer, and we will be continually monitoring and re-assessing the situation as things change. We will make adjustments to these procedures as needed.

Members will soon be receiving instructions regarding when and how they can once again access coLab.

Our reopening will be phased, closely following the WorkSafeBC guidelines.

Studio members are currently allowed back into the space, and we will soon be reaching out to Resident members with more information. 

If you are a Nomad, Explorer, or Starter member, we ask that for the time being, you continue to work from home. We ask for your continued patience at this time as we slowly and gradually expand access to coLab.

And finally, this should go without saying, but:

  • If you’re sick – even with only mild symptoms — stay home.
  • If a member of your household is sick, stay home.
  • If you are immunocompromised or part of a high-risk group, stay home.
  • If you are unable or unwilling to follow our new safety procedures, stay home.

In the words of Dr. Henry, our future is in our hands — as long as we remember to wash them.

Yours in solidarity,

Team coLab

 

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