On April 21, Tribes Inspiring Workplaces — one of the fastest growing European providers of flexible office space — announced a new concept for its spaces in Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. The concept, called “Blue Zone Offices,” will transform all 23 of Tribes’ coworking spaces into workspaces that are as safe and health-conscious as possible.
According to Chief and Founder Eduard Schaepman, Tribes began thinking about special measures as soon as the outbreak occurred, starting with disinfectant gels and awareness posters in the early days. Once the Dutch government announced the shift to a “1.5 meter society,” Schaepman and his team decided that their locations needed significant adjustments to meet these new restrictions, which aim to keep people separated by 1.5 meters at all times in the workplace, at school, and in public.
“Instead of decreasing the number of workplaces we have, we wanted to create ‘safe zones’ where members can still have contact with other members or colleagues,” Schaepman said. “Now, we have transparent plexiglass between coworking stations, one-way routing throughout, desk-pads to avoid skin-to-desk contact, and vending machine with gloves, facemasks, and vitamins.”
Blue Zone Offices: core design elements
The key features of Tribes’ new Blue Zone Offices include: thermal cameras at the entrance, which will test members’ temperatures and bar anyone from entering who has a fever; automatic dispensers for facemasks, gloves, and hand sanitizer as well as vitamins and other immune-boosters; strict route guidance within the buildings; limited-access workspaces; and less flexible workspaces per branch.
Furthermore, Tribes made sure the new concept offers an added opportunity for members to take care of their health and wellness, even while at work. “At the core of the Blue Zone concept, we’ve added a rest room and sport room to facilitate services that boost the immune system,” Schaepman said. Since many gyms have closed their doors, it’s even more important for people to stay fit. “A smart mirror is part of the equipment, allowing members to use a virtual personal trainer to work on their fitness or do a kickboxing training,” said Schaepman.
Each space will also offer a relaxation area that contains reclining chairs and sofas, which will be sanitized regularly.
At each Tribes’ location, Schaepman’s team has modified the climate control system. “According to experts, a combination of lower temperature and higher humidity limits the spread of the virus, and we have adjusted our indoor climate accordingly,” Schaepman said.
The meaning behind the name
The name ‘Blue Zone Office’ refers to the so-called Blue Zones located around the world. Blue Zones are places where locals are scientifically-proven to live longer and healthier lives than elsewhere, such as the island of Sardinia in Italy and Okinawa in Japan.
“We attach the same kind of importance to a healthy lifestyle — including food, relaxation, sleep, and sport — as the people in these places,” said Schaepman. “We have to ensure that our immune system is optimally fit in order to minimize the risk of infection and the spread of the virus as much as possible.”
The first Blue Zone Office was officially rolled out on April 21 at Tribes’ South Axis Ito location in Amsterdam. Over the next month, Tribes will unveil this new concept at all of its branches so that people can safely return to work.
Providing needed solutions
Tribes’ Blue Zone Office concept is the first of its kind in Europe, underscoring the operator’s dedication to creating safe work environments so that professionals can get back to “normal” as soon as possible.
“This current way of working is not optimal, and with simple adjustments, we can go back to the office and work and meet each other with safe distance,” Schaepman said.
In the early stages of the pandemic’s outbreak in Europe, Tribes’ workspaces experienced many cancellations, especially for meeting room requests. More recently, however, the operator has seen an increase in the number of meeting room requests, “It’s a small increase, but it shows that people want to get together again and want to use our meeting rooms since safe measures have already been adopted,” Schaepman said.
For companies in the Netherlands that may not be able to accommodate the Dutch government’s 1.5 meter restrictions, flexible office spaces present a viable solution for teams that still want to work together in-person. “It’s likely that many companies will have not enough space to create the 1.5m safe zones around their workplaces for their employees. With a flexible contract, they can rent the necessary space to provide their employees with a safe work environment,” Schaepman affirmed.