Impact Hub Boston Response to COVID-19

Date: March 17, 2020:

Hello, everyone! We hope today was productive and fruitful for you! We missed seeing you all at the Hub! (none of us were there — were you?)

Only a little news for you today, on the topic of mail and packages:
During this time of Limited Operations Mode, mail and packages are still being delivered to 50 Milk Street, but we are not delivering mail to your cubbies on the 15th floor. If you are expecting important mail essential for your work that you absolutely must pick up during this time of limited operations, please email to let us know.

Mail will not be sorted as usual unless you email us. If you have essential mail that you must pick up and you let us know, we will make a temporary folder with your name on it in the 16th floor mailroom. Packages are being sorted as normal and can be picked up on the 16th floor if essential — there is no need to inform us for packages.

Note this is a new way of doing things for us, so please bear with us as we learn how to serve you better.

As always, if you have questions or issues, please reach out to us directly on the ask-the-hub-team channel on Slack or email



Date: March 16, 2020:

In response to the growth of the number of virus cases, and to protect the health of our members, our staff, and the people of Boston, we have moved today to a “Limited Operations Mode”. Impact Hub Boston members are strongly urged to work from home or another place where they can avoid or limit the risk of infection.” “Social distancing” is the word of the day, and we should all be practicing it to support public health.

For those of our members who need to retrieve belongings or for those members who believe that they have essential work to do which can only happen from our Hub, it is open and accessible with your key.

All events scheduled for our community have been cancelled through March 31, 2020 as a precaution.

If you do come into our facility, please observe the following precautions to keep everyone safe:

  1. use the sanitizing gel mounted to the wall in the elevator lobby to clean your hands,
  2. there may be a touchless thermometer there as well — if so, please use it to take your temperature. If it is more than 99.1F, we ask you not to enter our facility.

If you have any guests coming to Impact Hub Boston, we ask you to have them observe the same precautions.

For more information on how we are adapting to the crisis, please see the information shared by our partner, CIC.

This is a difficult moment for many. Some parts of our Greater Boston community, in particular, are disproportionately affected. We are asking everyone to consider donating to the Boston Foundation COVID 19 Response Fund to support the organizations that are on the front lines of dealing with the effects of COVID-19 on elders and other especially vulnerable people in the Greater Boston area.

Date: March 11, 2020:

This developing situation is unusual, and it requires all of our close attention. We recognize that you are likely being inundated by COVID-19 information.  Some of you have already done your own research. If you read nothing else, please review the below bullet-points. We have provided a lot of information appended to this email for those who want to dig deeper, or learn about how Impact Hub Boston is responding.

To keep our community safe and healthy, and to slow the spread of this disease, we encourage you to follow these best practices:

  • Tell us immediately if you are diagnosed with COVID-19.  We will report to authorities and follow their guidance.

  • Consider working from home when feasible, while this unfolds. This is not an ask from Impact Hub Boston. It is subject to your company’s policies.

  • Take your temperature before coming to work

  • Stay home and self-quarantine for 14 days if you are experiencing a fever, cough, or shortness of breath; after you return from an outbreak country; or if you have had close contact with someone with a presumptive diagnosis of COVID-19

  • Go home immediately if you develop the above symptoms during the day

  • Wash your hands several times a day, and avoid touching your face; if you must cough, use a tissue

  • Eliminate your travel when and where possible, including personal travel.  Harvard’s policy on this is: “We strongly urge extreme caution and judgment for [even] your personal domestic travel”.

  • Replace meetings and visits with video; don’t attend large group events. Consider a 10-person cap for in-person meetings.

  • Spread out in our workspace.

  • Touch things less. Avoid shaking hands. Use a knuckle to call elevators.

Again, wash your hands especially after touching public surfaces (e.g., subway car handholds). This is the WHO recommended method. If you could use a little humor right now, here is a light-hearted take on it out of Vietnam.

The WHO recommends staying home with even a low-grade fever, of 37.3C (99.14F) or higher, or if you are on fever-reducing medications (e.g. ibuprofen, acetaminophen).

While the above are our recommendations, keep in mind each company here will make its own official decisions and rules.  We encourage you to be in touch with your leadership if you have questions about what is appropriate.


What’s the latest on COVID-19?

A lot is not yet fully known yet about COVID-19, but the WHO Director’s take, as quoted in the New York Times March 6, is striking:

“This is not a drill,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization. “This is not a time for excuses. This is a time for pulling out all the stops.”

The situation is evolving quickly. The number of confirmed cases in your area does not tell the full story. For instance, we had only one confirmed case in Massachusetts two weeks ago. At that same time, a nearby biotech held a 175-person leadership meeting. Now 70 cases have been identified from that meeting, and the company has closed its offices worldwide, sending 7,400 employees home.  Similar situations have come to light from other large meetings as far back as two weeks ago.

Some experts project a potential slowing of the illness with warmer weather. If so, delaying its spread will be a boon to everyone.  Until we know more, we are asking you to follow these protocols as best you can.

What Is Impact Hub Boston Doing to Promote Health and Safety?

Our goal is to help keep the entire Impact Hub Boston community – staff, clients, family, and friends – stay safe and healthy. Specifically, we want to reduce the impact of anyone who comes to Impact Hub Boston who is a COVID-19 carrier.

We are in the coming days:

  • Encouraging everyone to follow the protocols outlined above

  • Modifying our facility to be as “touch-free” as possible

  • Working with you to spread out in your workspace.  Neither the CDC nor WHO recommend a specific distance for workplaces, however, the CDC indicates that person-to-person infections are related to proximity within 6ft (2m).  Spreading out will be more possible as some people choose to work from home. We may be able to help you with creative options.

  • Implementing a “COVID-19 Wellness Station” at the main entrance to our facility where we will ask everyone to gel their hands as they come in

Tours and meetings

We have cancelled all tours with people coming from CDC Level 2 and 3 countries.

Our sister organization, Venture Cafe, has suspended in-person gatherings. They are moving to a digital format. They are experiencing high virtual attendance and like this interim approach.

We have also suspended our weekly Wine Down here at Impact Hub Boston.

We are encouraging all planned future group meeting and event hosts to delay or cancel larger, in-person gatherings. For those groups over 25 people who do wish to go forward, we will require they employ an attendee screening function (discuss with our Events lead, Alexis).

If your company doesn’t have sufficient video collaboration tools, note that Google has made their enterprise-level video collaboration tools completely free until July. This could be an opportunity to learn new ways to work.

Below is a more detailed and developing list of many more actions we and our partner, CIC, are taking on an operational level. These will roll out progressively.

Please don’t hesitate to share your ideas and suggestions with us. Be assured we will continue our efforts to adapt our work environment to this evolving situation.

Additional information below that you may find helpful.

Additional Actions in Response

Facility and Operations

  • Performing multiple cleanings of common-area surfaces and high-traffic areas throughout the day

  • Switching temporarily to disposable plates/cups/cutlery in all kitchens

  • Installing footpulls in restrooms and other pull doors where possible so people needn’t use their hands to open the main doors (they are on order)

  • Ordering anti-microbial grips for public doors (conference rooms, phone booths, bathrooms, fridges etc.)

  • Installing additional hand sanitizer dispensers outside restrooms, in event spaces, in building lobbies, in kitchens, etc.

  • Pausing the provision of bulk food items with potential for cross-contamination

  • Stopping the sharing of left-over food items in the kitchens

  • Pausing community group events that we organize, such as WineDown

  • Supporting remote event participation by offering more reservable live-streaming cameras in event spaces to enable minimal in-person presence paired with increased video participation

  • Deploying more in-conference-room video systems


  • Posting signs in restrooms, shower and kitchens urging regular hand washing

  • Posting signs near water machines to reduce cross contamination

Input from Japan

CIC asked its Japan team to share some of the steps that businesses are doing there now to ensure safety.  Japan is 2-3 weeks ahead of us and can give us a clue as to “what is to come”. We presume some of these measures will become common outside Japan in the next few weeks:

– The government has requested all primary and high schools to shut down

– The government has requested large-scale events to consider canceling or postponing

– Starting two weeks ago, many companies have set the guideline to mostly work from home, while not prohibiting coming to the office

– A small portion of companies have banned going to the office and physical meetings

– Many companies have banned meetings over 10 people and are postponing non-urgent meetings to later weeks

– The Tokyo Metropolitan Government earlier this week started fever (forehead temperature) screening for all visitors coming into its office building, and health clubs, for instance, are generally doing the same.