Big Bear

Big Bear Innovation Centre, which offers desk space and boardrooms to rent, was just getting off the ground when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March.

Keith MacIntyre of Big Bear Innovation Centre is excited to open the Westside’s first co-working office space in early June.

The centre offers bright space with lots of windows, views of the mountains and Okanagan Lake and lots of free parking.

MacIntyre hosted one open house at the Big Bear Innovation Centre at 305 – 1979 Old Okanagan Highway in March, just before everything shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He had been getting a lot of interest before the pandemic.

“It’s been a challenging couple of months for sure,” he said.

MacIntyre has been looking at the WorkSafe rules and believes he will be able to operate the space safely as he adjusts how many people will be allowed in the 3,600-square-foot space at one time.

Co-working and office working in general has changed because of the pandemic, said MacIntyre.

Many businesses are asking employees to work from home, but not everyone can do that. Having space in the Big Bear Innovation Centre to use on a temporary basis might be a solution.

As well, MacIntyre has heard how most people’s houses aren’t set up to have two people working from home, so one spouse ends up getting the dining room and the other ends up on the bed or on the living room couch.

“And then you through in the challenges of home schooling young kids,” he said.

MacIntyre thinks working hours might change with one spouse working during the day while the other might start work at 4 p.m., so having a 24/7 space like Big Bear to get away to would be helpful.

With the pandemic, there has also been a huge shift to people delivering courses online the past couple of months.

The Big Bear Innovation Centre can offer a quiet space to deliver a course without construction next door or the dog barking.

The original plan for the space was to have desks close together to get a collaborative environment.

Now with the threat of COVID-19, the desks will be spread out.

Even with 10 people in the 1,300 square feet of open space, they wouldn’t be anywhere near anybody else.

The centre has two board rooms, one that fit six people at a safe distance, while the larger one can accommodate eight people comfortably and still have room for a presenter.

There are also two private offices that could comfortably fit three to four people.

MacIntyre said there will be lots of cleaning, disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer.

The other three floors in the building are not currently occupied, making it a little safer.

The Big Bear Innovation Centre can offer flexibility to small business owners reluctant to sign leases for space because of another possible shutdown.

“We’ll go month to month and if things shut down then they just cancel their contract,” said MacIntyre.

Big Bear Innovation Centre is open for virtual or limited in-person tours.

Contact MacIntyre through the Big Bear Innovation Centre Facebook Page at facebook.com/bigbearinnovationcentre or call 250-809-6908 to make an appointment.