Prepare for Reentry

As companies entertain the thought of employees returning to their offices, property managers must make sure the spaces are shipshape.
Jessica Fiur, Managing Editor
Jessica Fiur, Managing Editor

It’s been a rough few months.

Those who can have been working from home. And it’s been…an adjustment. Some people have been setting up workspaces at their kitchen tables. Kids and pets are making cameos during video conferences. And consumer publications are hawking everything from expensive candles to give your work area a relaxing aura (totally not necessary) to fancy home-coffee brewing machines (definitely a necessity).

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Associate Editor Greg Isaacson reports that according to data from Kastle Systems, office occupancy across 10 cities averaged 22.3 percent as of July. But things are starting to change. Not only are companies beginning to look at leasing spaces again, but as states get a handle on virus spread, buildings are starting to reopen, and people are slowly transitioning back to the office. For property managers, this represents a new challenge. How do you keep people safe while resuming normal operations?

Air quality is a major factor that property managers will want to monitor. HVAC systems may need to be completely flushed before employees can return to ensure that everything is clean and safe. Plans will also need to be made for sanitization, including how frequently surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected. New technologies, such as ultraviolet light alternatives, will be brought in and tested in different office buildings.

One of the silver linings about being out of the office is that there has been time to put these new systems in place. Organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Green Building Council are coming up with procedures and checklists. Plus, as Diana Mosher reports in her feature article this month, instead of opening the floodgates and making everyone return to the office at once, it will be a slow trickle of workers returning in stages, making social distancing procedures easier to implement.

Though office occupancy probably won’t be back to full capacity anytime soon, it’s good to know that we are all in good hands when we are all able to return. Hands that are totally sanitized, of course!