This interview was originally conducted by Ajay Kumar of The Housemonk and was shared to us by Ricardo Neves, founder of Oka Coliving. You can also find some of Oka's guidelines in a recent Facebook post here.
1) Has the pandemic affected your occupancy rate? If yes, any estimate on how much decrease in occupancy over past few weeks?
Not much, as we are a long stay coliving, before the pandemic started, we already had occupancy at our normal level of over 95% rate in our 50 rooms.
2) Has there been any delay in payments due to you from tenants? If yes, how much dip do you notice?
No, but we started to receive request for rent discount regarding the next months. We believe 15% of our members will request a rent ease and we are offering 50% rent discount for the next 2 months.
3) Has the overall demand for rooms/beds gone down? If yes, by how much %?
4) How has the service delivery been impacted for your team?
Not much, our deliveries our monthly based, and only for cleaning materials. We do not provide any other products inside our coliving experience
5) What are some operational challenges you have faced during this pandemic?
We have big groups of people sharing each coliving structure, our 4 colivings are one building of 21 rooms and 3 penthouse's of 13 rooms, 11 rooms and 5 rooms. All sharing the same common areas, in a daily basis. We have a challenge to adapt the physical structure but also to implement a behaviour change in our members experience.
6) Any mitigation strategies you have put in place?
As the business perspective, we will start a conversation with our 4 landlords for a discount of 50% in the next 3 months, anticipating vacancy due to economic unrest.
In the coliving housing experience, we implemented a safety and health protocol, made all members virtual talk about it and all members had t sign it, the conditions are:
- we implemented virtual tours for possible new members
- external visitors are not allowed for now
- events and parties inside the coliving were cancelled
- bathroom's hand towels were taken off from our units
- tooth brushes should not be kept in the same bathroom
- maximum of 5 people in commom areas
- dishes, pans, glasses and etc has to be washed also before use
- if any member has mild symptoms, he/she has to notice us and he/she will be asked to be isolated in his room for 14 days, and will use a exclusive bathroom separated from the rest. our staff and members will make food and help on the daily challenges of this case (we haven't got any case yet)
7) Any other points you would like to mention?
Is not only bad news and rules, we have done cool and fun stuff too, an online slam poetry gig and online group meditation, Oka members only. Nonetheless, as a new business model inspiration, I think this moment will open a great opportunity to create a different model to sustain the coliving core concept. I'm eager to see and (be involved with) a new bread of coliving companies, such as:
- a coliving were long stays are paid with soft skills for creative projects
- influx of vacant landlords becoming 100% partners on profits or losses
- coliving company based on a platform for crowdfunding small and medium colivings