Members and employees of flexible office space provider Convene will be eligible to receive COVID-19 serology antibody testing, a benefit that may help set the firm apart from its competitors. The test appointments through Convene’s partnership with health provider Eden Health will be free of charge, while the costs for the lab work might total around $50, depending on the user’s insurance policy, according to the company.
“We’ve heard others contemplating different approaches, but Convene seemingly has one of the most formal partnerships in place among flex office providers,” says Ted Skirbunt, national director of Workthere in Americas, an office space rental agency powered by Savills, a real estate services provider.
Convene originally partnered with Eden Health, a private medical practice, in 2019 to bring primary care and provide virtual healthcare and mental health services to its employees and members. Antibody testing will be available through Eden, but is not required by Convene.
To help limit the spread of COVID-19, on top of the serology antibody testing, Convene members will be required to undergo a preemptive screening check through a HIPAA-compliant app, as well as temperature checks upon arrival at a Convene location. Matt McCambridge, co-founder and CEO of Eden Health, says screenings and temperature checks are available to everyone that comes to Convene-managed spaces within the building.
“In addition to consulting medical experts and taking the guidance and advice of the CDC, WHO and local government authorities, we’ve expanded our Eden Health partnership so members can feel as safe and comfortable as possible when they return to work,” says Ryan Simonetti, CEO and co-founder of Convene. “Our expanded partnership includes providing all of our WorkPlace members with Eden Health memberships, so they have access to a combination of testing, temperature checks, and medical care.”
The co-working business model has been put to the test during the pandemic as the method of packing in as many workers into a space as possible is no longer viable. Increased unemployment and more professionals opting to work from home until there’s a vaccine or treatment plan in place or the pandemic subsides spells bad news for the co-working industry, according to commentary from ratings agency DBRS Morningstar.
Meanwhile, office landlords in general are struggling to find ways to ensure safety in their spaces.
WeWork, the largest provider of co-working space, missed already rent payments to some of its landlords. Other co-working companies have also been struggling, and resorting to cost-cutting measures and layoffs.
To address the need to make people feel safe about coming back, Industrious, a flexible office provider, will screen its members using touchless, self-serve temperature check kiosks upon entry to its offices. Knotel, a flexible workspace platform, noted since each Knotel location is a private, full-floor office, it is ultimately up to the tenants themselves to decide how to respond to COVID-19, according to a Knotel spokesperson. WeWork and Regus, another large flexible space player, did not respond in time for publication of this article.
“Owning and operating physical space, you are in healthcare delivery in some way whether you like it or not. Most groups are going to be going through this because [COVID-19] is going to be with us for a long time,” says McCambridge. “You’re seeing just consistent upticks in cases right now, it’s pretty clear it’s not going to slow down for a while. So, I think the presence of this is going to make this something where every rent decision for a long time coming is going to have health and how to care for folks in the forefront of the mind when you’re making a renewal or you’re making a new rent choice.”
He adds that office landlords are currently deciding where they are going to stand on investing heavily in health and wellness. He predicts that more and more landlords will become public about their health and wellness initiatives amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Going forward, clear communication about and enforcement of social distancing and mask-wearing in office environments will take on substantial importance, says Skirbunt.
“Having medical professionals on-site and visible may well serve to encourage adoption of these behaviors within an office environment.”