How safe is co-living in the time of COVID-19?

Co-living is safe and essential. It is also a  unique form of dignified, affordable accommodation, says  INSEAD, a global business school.

INSEAD researched co-living with MyTown, the co-living brand under Philippines Urban Living Solutions (PULS), and PeoplePods, a Philippine dormitory for migrant workers, and industry experts. 

Findings of the research showed that workplace wellness had become front and center for both employers and employees.

MyTown staff are trained under best-practice coronavirus measures.

Co-living can reduce the risk of community infections, as the average daily number of people a co-living tenant is in contact with is up to 98 percent lower than someone who relies on cramped and enclosed public transportation options. Moreover, a well-rested workforce is more likely to have a strong immune system that can fight a viral infection, according to the findings.

The study also shows that co-living and dormitory operators are encouraged to implement a thorough prevention and response framework against the pandemic and that doing so does not have to impact the sustainability of its business model. 

“This is important since, thus far, COVID-19 has continued to show resilience, and ‘new normal’ measures, therefore, need to pass the long-term sustainability test,” said Jelmer Ikink, PULS group director.

It is also important to educate and communicate with the tenant population and prepare detailed response plans for a wide range of worst-case scenarios. 

What has become a thriving real estate sector in normal times, co-living has now proven essential in times of crisis. “Especially in Southeast Asia, the focus of the handbook — alternatives to shared living — are often unaffordable, impractical, or unlivable,” said Daniel Layug, CEO at PeoplePods Philippines.

The findings of the research are available in an e-book entitled Co-Living Safety and Sanitation Handbook and discusses best practices in safety and sanitation for co-living operators during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is freely available to the public on the websites of MyTown (www.mytown.ph/ebook) and PeoplePods.

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