the class of 2020 - radar - interviews
April 2nd, 2020


Gui Perdrix is the founder of Coliving Diaries, a platform for coliving news, education and resources. He is also co-founder of Coliving Insights and global ambassador at Co-Liv. Gui is currently writing a book on best practices for coliving spaces to scale while maintaining the feeling of community.

At various speeds, it seems the world is easing into the requirements of social distancing. In PBSA and coliving, environments and communities have been crafted specifically to optimise living with others. If the assumption is that the commonality between PBSA and coliving is communal facilities, what learnings can be shared about adapting to this new situation? Gui Perdrix, Founder and CEO of Coliving Diaries, is compiling stories from a worldwide network of coliving operators and offers his expertise on the benefits of shared living in recent weeks. 

What has been the practical impact of social distancing on shared spaces in coliving communities?  

At its core, coliving is a housing environment in which residents share common spaces, such as the kitchen and/or the living room. It’s not enough to simply have a shared rooftop for residents to count as coliving: what counts is that the space itself is optimized for “together-living” and hence counts on sharing daily compartments.

In the current situation, social distancing is a crucial factor in order to fight the coronavirus epidemic. Coliving operators can encourage this behavior in different ways: from closing certain “non-crucial” common areas such as gyms, rooftops, and swimming pools; but also through organizational measures. For example, the residents from Oka Coliving in Brazil organized themselves to have one person dedicated to cleaning and another one to cooking. This allows residents to not be confined together in common areas, while at the same time still benefit from the coliving residence and support each other during the crisis.

While coliving spaces will have a harder time to implement social distancing, and hence offer a higher risk in terms of health, we should not forget that coliving spaces also offer a fundamental benefit, namely human support. I personally believe that residents of coliving spaces will be better off through the crisis, which includes social distancing and confinement, than being by themselves. At least now, they can count on a group of people that can support each other, mentally and physically. 

We should not forget that coliving spaces also offer a fundamental benefit, namely human support. I personally believe that residents of coliving spaces will be better off through the crisis.

How are coliving players adapting? What have been the smartest moves you have seen so far in mitigating the risks and maximising the benefits of shared living?  

Coliving operators have had similar approaches, each of them with their own flavor. Most operators have communicated extensively with their residents on best practices during the crisis, including social distancing. Some went the step beyond and cared about mental well-being, offering tenants virtual sports courses to remain fit and healthy during the time of confinement. 

Some great examples of operators are shared on Coliving Insights, a blog that showcases interviews from coliving founders and preventive measures that are being taken. 

  1. Colonies’ #PitchYourTalent Campaign
    To support freelancing professionals whose work has been impacted, the #PitchYourTalent campaign asks freelancers and small business owners to submit a video highlighting what talent they could teach Colonies tenants in a live online session. Tenants vote on what they would like to learn. The chosen freelancer will then conduct aonline session, where tenants can ask questions and interact. Freelancers are paid 100EUR for their session.  
  1. Cohabs Quarantine Challenge
    Cohabs is organizing a house quarantine challenge, where tenants are given fun assignments such as creating a work-out station with homemade equipment or creating a house handshake. All contestants need to submit their photos by the end of April and winners will receive a bar tab at a local café. 
  2. K9’s Buddy System
    This initiative was put into place to support those who may become ill. As part of the procedure, the buddy system calls for its community members to first record if they have symptoms of being ill. Once this is recognized, the other community members help them by bringing them food or making trips to the pharmacy on their behalf.