Coworking spaces experience drop in members, implement safety measures in response to COVID-19 pandemic

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — More businesses can reopen Monday, but are limited to 25% of its workforce. That part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s order includes office buildings, gyms, manufacturing services. Employees are expected to practice social distancing guidelines.

Shared coworking space companies like WeWork has a huge presence downtown. Over the last several years, startup companies have fueled a big part of coworking spaces. However, local industry leaders tell KXAN they have experienced a drop in memberships.

Createscape Coworking owner Keller Davis said memberships have dropped by nearly half. Before the coronavirus pandemic, on average, 50-85 people would use the shared space daily. At present, Davis said about 10 people each day are using the space.

“Demand has shrunk so much, not many people want coworking spaces right now and I totally get that,” Davis said.

He doesn’t expect business to get back to normal anytime soon, but as more companies go remote, Keller believes it could lead to some business.

“There will be a bounce as a reactionary thing due to the fact that so many people are working from home,” he said.

Creating a work-life balance is what attracted filmmaker Stephen Henderson to Createscape Coworking.

“I think people get tired of working from home,” Henderson said.

Henderson is the owner and creative director at The Habit of Seeing, a production company focused on producing videos for brands, startups and makers.

He admitted he’s never worked in a traditional office space like most, but he knows firsthand the challenges people face working from home.

“Always having work there and having kids screaming. I need to get the business of the house,” Henderson said.

To move forward during the coronavirus pandemic, Davis has added plexiglass, disinfectant, social distancing rules, limits on the number of people in meeting rooms and a mask requirement for people walking around the building.

“We’re going to continue have cancellations, I fully expected that but there are still people trying to live their lives and get their businesses and projects off the ground and those people are going to need space,” Davis said.

He said the company did qualify for some relief funds through the CARES Act which helps with some of the expenses. Davis said he was also able to work out a plan with his landlord.

Abbott will announce additional reopening plans Monday at 2 p.m.

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