How a NYC collaboration space adjusted to thrive during the shutdown


  • Coworking areas have been hit particularly arduous during the pandemic’s interval of social distancing.
  • But Luminary isn’t — nor has it ever been — simply a coworking space, and the options that set it aside have helped it survive and develop during a very difficult time.
  • “For me, it proves that our hypothesis of focusing on sustainability and profitability first, versus just growth and revenue is the right way to look at it,” she stated.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for extra tales.

The COVID-19 pandemic has pummeled coworking-space suppliers particularly arduous, forcing many would-be WeWorks and Wings to shut completely after three months of social-distancing measures.

But Luminary founder Cate Luzio will let you know — as she has since day one — that her midtown Manhattan collaboration space is greater than the uncovered brick partitions and sliding glass doorways.

“Ninety percent of our members say the reason they come here is for community and connection,” Luzio instructed Business Insider in an interview during which she mentioned the current reopening of Luminary’s bodily space and the steps she and her workforce took to get via the shutdown.

Luminary’s success during the worst financial calamity in fashionable historical past is a perform of each how Luzio constructed the enterprise in the first place and the philosophy by which she guides it.

It’s vital to word that whereas Luminary has a extra devoted membership than you would possibly count on to discover from its friends, additionally it is privately owned and financed by Luzio herself.

“We were self-sustaining. I didn’t have debt, and I had this strong balance sheet,” she stated. “We were growing sustainably, versus growing for the sake of growth.”

No traders meant that Luzio did not have to ask anybody else for permission to reply when the public-health disaster started to unfold in March.

Make a plan earlier than it is too late

By the second week of March, Luzio understood the writing on the wall to imply that digital collaboration was going to be an unavoidable characteristic of life going ahead. In response — and as she does in all issues — she made a plan.

She coordinated with considered one of her prime staffers, arrange a industrial Zoom account, and launched unique programming the subsequent day together with her longstanding company associate UBS known as “Don’t touch your face, don’t touch your 401(k)” that had over 200 registrations.

As that first digital occasion was underway, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was saying his order that every one nonessential companies shut down to sluggish the unfold of the pandemic.

Luminary has since convened greater than 250 digital occasions led by members and a few of the firm’s many company companions, together with JPMorgan, Mastercard, Insperity, and WW. By distinction, Luminary held 200 in-person occasions in all of 2019.

Make space in your workforce’s concepts

Every week after Luminary closed its doorways, Luzio herself got here down with a COVID-19 an infection, which she battled for 5 weeks.

“There was no real opportunity for me to just put everything on ice. I’m fortunate that I have an incredible team that really stepped up, and I think I would never have seen some of their skills had this not happened,” she stated.

By and enormous, Luzio stated the transformational concepts which have buoyed Luminary these previous three months have been “not Cate ideas, but ideas from the team.”

Giving her workforce the latitude and help to experiment shortly has allowed Luminary to accomplish extra in three months than what Luzio would count on to see in a full 12 months. As a outcome, the firm presents a digital library, a listing of women-led companies, a T-shirt fundraising marketing campaign, and new digital memberships.

These new choices took Luminary international. “Now we have members from all over the world: Senegal, Barbados, London, Hong Kong, San Francisco, Colorado, Ohio,” she stated.

Look at the information and commit to a technique

After about a month of pivoting a extremely in-person enterprise into a very on-line model, the Luminary workforce began engaged on its plan to begin inviting members again to their midtown Manhattan location.

“We had to look through every scenario you can think of on planning and readiness,” Luzio stated.

With a shut eye on the virus’ unfold and messages from public officers, the workforce mapped out detailed methods to open safely.

Communication with current and potential members was important to encourage the confidence that everybody’s well being considerations have been addressed.

As Luzio does in all elements of her enterprise, the closing motion plan was neither absolutely top-down nor bottom-up, however an knowledgeable hybrid of the two.

“Once we had all the information and data what we needed,” she stated, they have been ready “to make these right decisions.”

As the weeks ticked by, Luzio estimated she spent almost $25,000 on preliminary security measures, together with indicators, sanitizer stations, contactless fixtures, and interior-design updates. What that quantity would not embody: modernizing the heating, air flow, and air-conditioning system, in addition to the ongoing expense of consumable provides and all-day-long cleansing providers.

When she was requested about what made Luminary totally different from its friends and opponents who’re struggling proper now, Luzio stated she was “heartbroken” for them.

“No one could have expected this,” she stated. “But for me, it proves that our hypothesis of focusing on sustainability and profitability first, versus just growth and revenue, was the right way to look at it.”



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