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Alternative Workspaces Adapting to COVID-19

As we find ourselves four months into the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses continue to reopen their doors to customers. In many cases, retail shops have no trouble letting customers browse and shop, as long as they wear masks. When it comes to restaurants, outdoor dining has become the new norm. However, when it comes to business where it seems that the indoors space is essential, how is it possible to stay afloat? For one woman, adapting was a necessity to stay open.

Dr. Teri Goetz is an acupuncturist in New York City who was forced to shut her doors early on due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I had a chance to discuss how her alternative workspace has impacted her business, and how she has been able to deal with the situation at hand. According to Goetz, she closed very early in March, and only just opened about three weeks ago stating “I closed my practice pretty quickly when I heard what was going on.” She goes on to mention how her services are considered high-risk, so it became a necessity to close her doors.

Which seems like a fairly common, but extremely unfair, practice as her landlord has made her pay for rent during those months in isolation. In a sense, there became no other option for her to not open up her business. She was forced to adapt to the ever-changing world. I found her process and business model mid-COVID to be intriguing, yet also impressive and peaceful.

For new patients, she does intakes over the phone, spending an hour and a half talking with them. When they actually get to her space, she has them bring their own pen, in addition to wearing a mask and spending limited time with the patient. In between patients, she leaves everything out to disinfect, giving ample time to space out appointments.

The most incredible and beautiful aspect of it all is her--as what some of her patients call it--‘goddess tent.’ To put it simply, it is “a gazebo at my home quite a distance from my house.” The titular ‘goddess tent’ comes from the concept that no male patients have visited it yet. She reminds me that the gazebo and space in her backyard is beautiful, and the opportunity to be outside makes it all the more enjoyable and peaceful.

I was intrigued to find out how her clients have reacted to the change in scenery for their appointments, and whether or not any found issue in it. Even though she is not seeing as many patients, she says they love the space. Simply the fact that they are able to savor their appointment in a welcoming environment makes up for having to wear a mask. “Would I rather not be wearing a mask? Yes.” But when it comes down to it, wearing the mask is worth it with the severity of the situation.

The only issue that Goetz finds is how appointments are weather-dependent. Obviously, if it is raining, it becomes impossible for clients to come over. The gazebo is located in a shady area, which cools the tent, in addition to a couple of fans. However, even the shade can’t handle the heat some days. She gives me the example of an elderly woman who was forced to cancel due to the heat, but in most other cases, people love the set up.

After discovering how Goetz has created an alternative workspace for her office, it allows one to reflect on how we, in general, can adapt to the pandemic, instead of letting it bring us down. While she, at this moment, is unaware of what she’ll do in the winter when it gets cold, she has begun thinking of ideas already. She suggests she might have to do telemedicine calls as her primary way of operation. On zoom calls, she can direct people with different acupuncture points for the time being. The fact of the matter is, there are options.

The recommendation to the general profession is to limit the number of people being seen. However, she leaves me with this. “It’s a great opportunity to be outside.” Yes, it's all about taking temperatures and checking symptoms, but that is not the be-all-end-all. “It’s unfortunate but you have to do what you have to do.”

These moments are important to pin-point. It might be difficult to adapt to this new normal of living, but in order to survive, changes must be made. This will not last forever, but in this moment, we must learn to adapt our lives to keep ourselves and the people around us not only healthy, but happy as well. From outdoor restaurants, to gyms, to even acupuncture, people should look to Teri Goetz and other individuals as to how to adapt in a time of unknown.

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