Best Practices to Avoid the Coronavirus in Coliving & Shared Living Spaces

 

With all the chaos going around the COVID19 outbreak, the paranoia and fear are bringing more confusion to the challenging times. So many people are asking.

How do we stay safe in a shared living/ coliving space? How can I avoid exposure?

These are important questions that deserve a deep thought, and here we have attempted to explain the same. We reached out to some health professionals and other coliving and shared living players in the market, and below are the insights gathered from different conversations.

Uncertain Times

Coronavirus is still as unknown as it was 3-4 months back, and the cases are on a constant rise.

Measures

Many things can be done individually and as a shared living and coliving provider that can be done to reduce the risk of getting infected. The measures depend more on collective than individuals. So it is crucial to look out for each other and help curb the infection.

Perspective

While we are continually looking at COVID19 numbers, we think that this is something big. But if you see the flu-related infections and death in a year, you will be surprised. These are much more. So it’s imperative to have perspective and see it through the right benchmarks.

Similar to the flu, there is a specific segment of patients who are more vulnerable to others. According to the WHO and health departments across the world, people having conditions of chronic illness are far more susceptible to COVID19. So if you are not in the above group, the risk of you becoming a critical case is negligible. It can come as the regular flu to you and go away after taking its due course.

Vaccine

There is still a long way to go till we find some cure, medicine that helps us fight COVID19. But till then, frequent and proper handwashing, social distancing will go a long way.

How can I avoid exposure?

Current advancements in health science have made us believe that there is a magic pill to solve all health-related problems in the world and that we can do whatever we want.

People don’t exercise, don’t sleep well, don’t take care of nutrition, etc. There cannot be a better time to take stock of your health. We are in lockdown, the world is moving slow, for some time we can forget about everything else and just focus on our health, which is the most neglected thing. If we need a machine to run efficiently, it needs quality fuel. Similarly, we need to keep our immune system healthy, and for that, we need to eat well, exercise, meditate, and, most importantly, sleep well.

Shared Living Spaces

  • Distance beds at least a few meters apart such that any cough or sneeze droplets (6-8ft) do not travel to the other side.
  • Alternate the head and foot sequence along with moving beds apart to reduce the potential transmission and increase the space around people.
  • Shared bathrooms should not have any space to keep toiletries; people should bring it and take it with them.

Coliving Spaces

  • All the events, gathering and should start/end with handwashing. Keep handwashing provisions in common areas.
  • Shared bathrooms should not have any space to keep toiletries; people should bring it and take it with them.
  • Designate a room in the building for isolation of up to 14 days just in case some symptom arises.

These measures should be implemented for the next 6-12 months as there is a high probability of resurgence. Use the mantra “Start early, continue longer” for all the measures.

How do we stay safe in a shared living/ coliving space?

Reduce the following things collectively to improve the chances of not getting infected.

Travel Exposures

Include this as a part of the agreement that all travel has to be published on the community board, self-quarantine on return, advance notice, etc. This will put in the sense of seriousness in people and put in collective responsibility. For people, they should avoid unnecessary travel as long as possible and find a substitute to do it virtually.

Social Exposures

Maintain social distancing at all times, minimum 2-4ft. Avoid any public aggregation points, events, etc. Use virtual meetups/games/events more to connect to friends and family and reduce the risk of infecting or getting infected.

Masks

Wear masks at all times as you leave your living space. We will have to make masks as a part of our clothing. But choose the masks wisely, which can help you prevent infections and not only provide a fashion sense. The risk of infection spreading reduces by 98.5% if everyone wears a mask.

General Housekeeping

Train the current staff with COVID related cleaning guidelines and keep the frequency of cleaning to at least 2-3 times a week. Also, provide all protective gear to the housekeeping staff and dispose them off properly after every end of the day. There is a need to develop a standardized protocol of sanitization of coliving and shared living spaces. Also, the surface in question needs to be wet with disinfectant for at least 2-3 min for effective sanitization.

Technology

Electronic items such as laptops, phones, etc. are often overlooked. They go where we travel and needs an equal attention in sanitization efforts. Shared equipment in coliving and shared living spaces should be included in housekeeping protocols for disinfecting surfaces. Use alcohol wipes, warm water with detol, and use a cloth to clean the electronic gadgets that move with you.

House/Community Pact

This is relative for smaller spaces, but it’s worth the time and effort. Create a collaborative task list and control measures for the space. Share it on the notice board and among people. Have each others back and push people to take precautions. This can collectively help in reducing the infection risk. Some of the things pact can have is temperature checks in morning and evening and a record of them, health committee, isolation for people with a minor change in symptoms, take online consultations and keep updating your list.

If housekeeping is a shared responsibility, it may be beneficial to do a standardized ‘Healthy Coliving & Shared Living’ training/activity as not everyone cleans the same way, and a few may need a little guidance.

Rules and agreements may vary slightly due to house dynamics but should share the same core control measures such as temperature checks, cut-offs, and protocols for self-isolation if elevated temperatures detected, and travel notifications to housemates with a return-to-house protocol for quarantine. Having coliving participants contribute to and sign the pact may increase buy-in and achieve better compliance rates while reducing overall risks.

I hope all these things help you create a better and safe environment for everyone. Let’s fight it together, and we are in it together.

~The virus doesn’t discriminate