Touring In A COVID World

This article was written by Sophie Higgins, who leads Knotel's Commercial arm in London.

It’s been a wild, scary and utterly unpredictable last several months. As Knotel’s Head of Commercial in London, I’m primarily responsible for working closely with customers who are looking for safe, flexible and productive workspace for their teams.

One of the best parts of my job is touring. There’s nothing more exhilarating than touring spaces, either as part of our space acquisition process, or with customers who inevitably and excitedly start to visualize the possibilities of what the space can become for their organization.

The possibilities are endless. We’ve seen far too often the outsize impact a physical workspace can have on a company’s culture, productivity and growth. Touring allows customers, in that moment, to tap into their imaginations and conjure a world of art and design, collaboration and camaraderie.

That was before a global pandemic brought the global economy to a near screeching halt. For us in London, that meant a period of no tours. Short of in-person, physical touring, there are of course other mechanisms to show customers potential spaces: videos, renderings, virtual reality tours, etc.

But as you can imagine, it’s just not the same. Which is why I was so excited when I got the alert that it was safe to start resuming in-person tours again. So last week, me and a couple of my colleagues got to cycle through the streets of the city to attend a couple of inspections for spaces we may be potentially be entering into management agreements for.

Upon entering the building we donned our masks and doused ourselves with antibacterial gel before heading up to the 6th floor in the lifts (separately I must add).

While the scope and scale of building inspections isn’t the same as it was pre-pandemic, it did feel incredible to be on-site, finally, and focusing on the future and new business opportunities.

No two tours are the same. Some visitors want to take the lifts, 50% wear masks, others will choose to walk up 6 flights of stairs which can test the athletic ability of any party. Providing a world class pitch when you are slightly starved of oxygen is no mean feat!

Other members of the Knotel London team are more accustomed to being on-site, as they tour upwards of 5 potential customers a week and have reported on their experiences with humour and humanity where possible. In a very serious world right now, humour is a must!

Moreover, our design team has been executing flawlessly in the face of unimaginable obstacles. The London design team managed to deliver 8 spaces to customers during the pandemic, a remarkable feat considering the circumstances.

For more on that effort, check out this recent post from Knotel London’s Head of Design Monica Innes, “Persevering Through a Pandemic.”

It really does feel good to be back in the office, even if just touring. There’s light at the end of the tunnel, and it seems to be getting brighter!