Interview: staying in nature at Coconat during COVID-19
1. What is the biggest challenge you faced in the current situation and how have you (tried to) overcome it?
We have a community of 10 people here stranded for different reasons, and only one paying guest. Our biggest challenge will be to pay the bills coming in, including the mortgage payment.
2. Is there any specific (other) story you’d like to share? This can be on another “crisis moment” or how someone from your team / community handled the situation strongly.
For us it was not a decision to let people stay here, it was clear. We have people from 7 countries (from 5 continents!), many of whom are stranded because of closed borders, cancelled flights, or losing bookings for the next place to stay. We have the space, and plenty of food.
1. What changes in health and safety policy have you implemented in your coliving space?
We have quarantined ourselves. No visitors, only trips out for food, medical reasons, or care (2 people have animals they must care for). Luckily we are in an area with a low population, and people can easily go outside and for walks in the forest.
2. What changes have you made to support the physical and mental wellbeing of your residents in response to the coronavirus?
We made a schedule for the days – with clear responsibilities for cooking and cleaning, and we are keeping our regular meetings – weekly check-in and mastermind sessions. I have made myself available for people to talk with if they want to share something private.
3. What changes have you made to support the physical and mental wellbeing of your staff (both on-site and off-site) in response to the coronavirus?
For our employees, we have been trying to be as informed as we can be about how they can be paid, even while not working. We were only able to keep 2 people on remotely, and their salaries are paid through an external funding.
1. How are you managing and caring for those residents who are ill and may have or have the virus?
Luckily no one is ill here. We had one accidental fall while inline skating,
and she has a fractured tail-bone. She spends most of her time in her room,
and our 5 year-old resident is spending a lot of time with her.
2. How are you handling residents who got laid off and are unable to pay?
As I said above, most of our residents were here as volunteers, and we will host them as long as they stay. Our one paid guest is still working, and as his work is in digital education, he should be fine. We are in a privileged position here in Germany where there were already a lot of social provisions for emergency situations, and so far it seems that the government here will try as best the can to help small businesses survive. Only time will tell. So far:
- Employees are taking holiday for Month of March - Will go to 0 hours in April, and paid 65% by government funds - Germany is allowing companies to not pay social insurance payments for March, we are researching how this will work now (announcement was made yesterday) - We will be in touch with bank about delaying mortgage payments 3. What have you communicated to your residents about the virus?
We are in isolation. Our team made some rules up and we agreed on them together with the people who are living here.
4. Have you encountered any difficulties in communicating this information?
No, luckily everyone had the same general thoughts on this.
Strategy for the future
1. What are the biggest operational issues relating to coronavirus that you're currently struggling with?
Uncertainty – will we really be able to open again on the 20th of April? What will be the state of things when everything does open again? We are a new small business in the first 5 years of opening, no matter what this is difficult – now we have to see if we weather this :-).