Lioness caught up with Samantha Wanagel, director of operations at Upward, to answer the question: is coworking safe during COVID-19? She also gives us some insight into what they’re doing to maintain social distancing while providing office space.
As we navigate the evolving realities of COVID-19 and the lasting impression it will leave on our workplace lifestyles and behaviors, Upward is looking ahead to determine what can be done to help you confidently and safely return to your daily work routine.
Our team, while following the current stay-at-home orders, is working tirelessly to adapt our spaces and the Upward Citizen experience to meet the latest guidelines and recommendations posed by health experts and local officials. We are energized by the potential solutions of many PropTech companies from our in-house venture fund, Upward Labs, to provide a safe and secure working environment upon the re-opening of our space. We are determined to make moves that offer long-lasting impacts on the safety and security of our community.
Our #1 goal is to ensure that all Upward Citizens can continue to work from our spaces with peace of mind so they can focus on what matters most.
While social distancing may be here to stay, collaboration and connection have never served a more needed purpose. Upward will continue to be the space where this activity happens, but we will be making some necessary updates to layouts and access levels across our footprint.
Below is a preview of how Upward at 20 Church St. in Hartford, Conn. is adapting to meet the demands of the “future of work” while making sure to keep coworking safe during COVID-19.
We’ve repurposed many of our training and meeting spaces to serve as turn-key, safe-distance, private offices for our larger companies in need of satellite, flex or transitional space.
Our original offices on the mezzanine are the perfect option for vulnerable team members in need of completely private space as they return to work outside of their homes.
Coworking & Conference Spaces
At Upward, our work and lounge areas were originally designed with intentional and elevated collaboration in mind. These will be modified to promote that same level of connective energy, while allowing for comfortable and safe distances to be kept. Seating capacity in our coworking spaces and meeting rooms will be conservatively reduced and reinforced with mindful messaging and signage.
Our zen booths will undergo routine cleanings throughout the day and wipe dispensers will be placed nearby, encouraging our Citizens to clean these shared surfaces before and after use. Additional behavioral and directional signage will be placed throughout the space to act as friendly reminders of new capacity and hygiene standards.
Our front doors are now badge-access only, all of the time. We hope this will provide our Citizens with the confidence that only other trusted members of the community are using the space and following the “house rules.” We will implement measures that allow for guests and visitors to enter the space on an approval basis — of course, in our friendly, welcoming manner.
Our cleaning protocol has always been strong and our expectations have always been high. We will continue to place a focus on ensuring our daily, detailed cleanings are conducted with the highest of standards, placing a heightened focus on shared areas and contact points.
While we greatly miss welcoming you to Upward’s signature events, our team is approaching near-future gatherings with agility and creativity.
As Upward’s Director of Operations, Samantha Wanagel oversees all projects within the company’s flagship location in downtown Hartford, including a co-working space at the Stilts Building (20 Church Street), co-living space at the historic Heublein Building (196 Trumbull Street), and future projects throughout Connecticut. Known as the “Swiss Army Knife” of the Upward team, Samantha is responsible for managing each location’s facilities, events, marketing, and hiring efforts, as well as spearheading business development and new initiatives.