Like dining out and birthday parties, coworking is now an outdoor activity thanks to the pandemic.
At least it is in Rosslyn. Today, the new O2 pop-up (short for Outdoor Office) opens in Gateway Park by the Key Bridge.
The project is the brainchild of the Rosslyn BID and Arlington’s Department of Parks and Recreation. It is as it sounds: an outdoor space calibrated for people to work safely among others, whether they want to schedule an in-person meeting or simply get out of the house.
“We’re looking at this as more than just a pop-up,” says Rosslyn BID president Mary-Claire Burick. “We have to consider what our new normal is going to be and think through what the future is going to look like.” Outdoor offices could be something that sticks around after Covid, she says, so the BID and parks department decided to experiment using existing infrastructure.
Within the designated O2 section of the park, workers will find café-style seating, standing desks, and counters and stools where you can set up shop. There is also a large conference table with AV equipment for giving presentations, as well as a smaller classroom-style section with another screen. The entire area is outfitted with WiFi, so no one will freeze mid-Zoom, and tools like whiteboards, chargers, and notebooks are available to borrow free of charge.
And, of course, all seating is spaced six feet apart and folks are required to wear a mask unless they’re sitting down. Plexiglass and faux-greenery dividers serve as “office” boundaries, as well as reminders to social distance, and arrows direct traffic flow.
The park at-large and the designated O2 space are open to the public, but the coworking area has a capacity of about 58 people. Folks can either make a reservation in advance or walk in if room is available, and they must either sign a waiver online or at the front desk when they check in. Stations can be used for 90-minute increments (although they can be reserved for multiple sessions, if needed), after which the O2 team will sanitize the spot for the next guest. Cleaning wipes and hand sanitizer are also spread throughout the space for easy use.
While you can bring your own food and drink, the O2 team has partnered with Nando’s and District Taco to provide food deals for folks at the coworking space (the Nando’s team has already reserved the conference area for a board meeting, says Burick).
The space is open Tuesdays through Thursdays from 10 AM to 4 PM (weather permitting, that is), but groups can reserve the space on a Monday or Friday if needed. While the O2 team anticipates closing the space once winter weather hits, if it goes well this fall, they could revive the idea come spring 2021, says Burick. “We’re learning what our new normal looks like.”