Keep Co is currently open as a shared workspace under the advice of the ACT Government (latest update Monday 23 March 2020) – but we’ve had to make a few changes to help us stay ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic and prevent the spread of infection in our community.

What are we doing and how can you help?

We’ve reduced the number of hot desks to ensure 1.5m spacing between members and disinfect the desks at the end of each day. Hotdesk users, please ensure you’re using the Hotdesk booking calendar via the community portal to reserve your preferred spot each day you’re with us.

We’ve closed off external bookings for events and meeting rooms to limit the number of people in the space. Please try limit the amount of visitors you bring in to Keep Co or suggest a catch up via video chat or on the phone instead.

Anyone who is experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms is not to come in to work at Keep Co until they’re feeling 100% better or have received advice from their GP that they are clear to return to work. We’ve always encouraged this as common sense, but will now be (kindly) asking members who are sneezing or coughing in the space to work from home until their symptoms have improved.

If you live with or have regular close contact with someone who is considered at risk of infection or more susceptible to respiratory disease, our advice is to stay at home and avoid public places for the time being.

Australia has now introduced a mandatory 14-day self isolation period for any person arriving from overseas. We’ve touched based with the members we know are currently overseas but if we’ve missed you, let us know. If you’ve come home from a trip, please don’t come in to Keep Co until your 14 days is up. Let Anna or Korske know if you are self-isolating either from travel, symptoms or any other reasons – we’d love to figure out any way that we can help you carry on with your work and life and we’ll make it a priority to help you do this where we can.

We love it when you guys clean up after yourselves, but please don’t hand-wash any of the communal kitchen items. Place everything in the dishwasher to be run through at the end of each day.

We’ve provided paper towels in the kitchen and bathroom for drying your hands – though we hate the environmental impact of single use items, we know during this time that cleanliness is vital and replacing tea towels and hand towels every day just won’t cut it.

We’ve placed extra hand sanitiser in prominent spots around the space with extra tissues and signage explaining appropriate sanitising methods.

We’re cleaning and disinfecting all internal and external door handleskitchen and bathroom surfaces, phone booth bench, meeting room furniture and any regular touch points twice a day with disinfectant spray.

We’ve provided disinfectant spray and paper towel for members to disinfect their own work areas before, during and after use. Remember that the wet spray needs to rest on the surface for 10 seconds to properly kill any bacteria or viruses – use gloves and do a spot test on any materials that might discolour, as these are chemicals you don’t want to mess with.

At the time of writing, the current government advice is that it is safe to remain open – but prudent to follow the above precautions around social distancing, hygiene etc. If this advice changes or if we deem it unsafe to remain open as a shared workspace, we’re preparing a plan to manage and maintain our community and memberships without a bricks and mortar space. This involves a multi-part plan before actually closing the doors that we’re ready to implement, involving further limitations on the number of people using the space, stricter hygiene procedures, and tweaks to the layout of the space to ensure there’s adequate space between each member to avoid the spread of any infections. We’ll let our members and community know if we up the ante on this plan – please ensure you’ve downloaded Slack and are receiving all notifications for our Keep Co Slack channels, and regularly checking your emails. We’ll also post updates via social media and our website for our wider community when required.

We know that a huge drawcard for a lot of our members is to have somewhere to work from away from the isolation of home, so the next weeks or months could be challenging if we have to close our doors. We’re working on a digital coworking platform to help unite the Keep Co and wider Canberra community if we’re faced with that reality. This involves a schedule of regular video meetups, checkins, events and opportunities to share resources amongst one another to keep us all connected during these tough times. If you have ideas for things you’d like to see, hear, lead or experiment with.. now is the time! Get in touch with us and we’d love to schedule a video chat to brainstorm together.

This will be a community-driven effort to prevent our healthcare systems from being overloaded and flattening the curve. There’s plenty of actions you can take right now to do your part and protect yourself, your loved ones and the rest of our community:

Social Distancing

People should attempt to keep a distance of 1.5 metres between themselves and other people where possible in the space here at Keep Co, and anywhere in public. Act as if you have COVID-19 and behave as if you are conscious of passing it on! This is to try and prevent the spread of small liquid droplets that can be spread when someone coughs or sneezes that may contain the virus. If you’re too close, you can breathe in the droplets and expose yourself to infection.

Avoid large gatherings

The more people at an event, the greater the risk of transmission. Avoiding large crowds reduces your potential exposure to the virus. The government has already introduced bans on gatherings and events for more than 500 attendees and we expect that to drop to a smaller number very soon, as other countries have now done. Where possible, meet outside or use video/teleconferencing for group meetings. If you do meet in person, ensure you’re keeping a reasonable distance from one another (1.5m is recommended).

What to do if you’re sick  

Please don’t come to Keep Co, cancel any face-to-face meetings and stay at home if you become unwell. This includes if you develop a fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, body aches, sore throat, runny nose, or muscle pain. Call your GP and seek medical advice right away – better safe than sorry. You can also call the Coronavirus health information hotline at any time on 1800 020 080 to outline your symptoms with a specialist, and they’ll advise if you qualify for COVID-19 testing. If you do, they’ll direct you to the nearest facility to take the swab test.

Wash your hands

Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands. Rub your hands together, covering all surfaces with soap, for at least 20 seconds before rinsing and drying your hands with a paper towel or clean hand towel. Use hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if you’re unable to regularly wash your hands – but washing is better.

Make sure you’re doing this very regularly – not just after using the bathroom or before eating. Ask yourself every hour or two when you last washed or sanitised your hands, and keep up the habit.

Practice good hygiene

Make sure you and the people around you are practicing good respiratory hygiene. Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and dispose of the tissue immediately. You should also avoid touching your face or eyes. Avoid handshakes, hugging, or close proximity with others when you’re saying hello or goodbye – an enthusiastic wave will suffice! Remember to clean and disinfect items you regularly use or take with you – handbags, devices, keys, wallets, phones etc. We’ve got extra spray and wipe you can use to do this when you arrive or before you leave.

Look after yourself

Your immune system needs all the good food, exercise, sleep and downtime you can get to ensure it’s fit and healthy to fight off any potential infection. Make sure you’re prioritising your mental and physical health. Take the time to do the things you enjoy. Take breaks from your screens and the media where you can, and reach out to give and receive support within your own networks, to us here at Keep Co or to some of these fantastic counselling services; Beyond Blue, Lifeline, Headspace; all of which have online or phone support that can help if you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious. It’s ok to not be ok and it’s absolutely acceptable to seek help.

We’ve found these particular websites, articles and links useful in our work while hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. If you’d like to add to this list, please get in touch and we’ll add it below.

ACT Health latest COVID-19 updates

World Health Organisation COVID-19 Information and Resources

Flattening the curve – why taking preventative action before asked is the best strategy

Who is at risk?

How to self-isolate

How to clean to prevent virus spread

Prepare your business against coronavirus

Coronavirus support for businesses from the Australian Government

ACCC’s guide to consumer rights during COVID-19 pandemic

Looking after your mental health