Brought to you by Bill Moten
LEDG Smart Buildings Practice Leader
and Reopening Solutions Technology Specialist
As I’m writing this blog, businesses across the globe are in various stages of reopening post-COVID-19. The phase of reopening depends on the country, state, and county where offices are located. Some businesses are in the planning stage, and others are fully open. What does reopening mean? It means safely bringing employees, staff, customers, patients, tenants, and shoppers back to the office, campus, store, restaurant, and doctor’s office after months of being shut down. The only way to get people back in is for businesses to transform fear of going back into the workplace into a trust that the company is prioritizing health and safety, better utilization of technology, and improved communication with occupants in the workplace.
The state and local governments are defining the regulations, mandates, and many large real estate management companies, as well as private institutions, are publishing their reopening guidelines. The common theme to all the reopening plans is to keep people safe from the Covid-19 by taking all necessary precautions, which can be boiled down to key precautions: providing a clean virus free environment and maintaining social distancing. Here are a few links to reopening guides and state status:
- CDC COVID-19 Employer Information for Office Buildings
- JLL Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources for real estate
- US state’s reopening status
Reopening guides and mandates define many procedures to make our businesses safe, including how to clean, what percent occupancy is allowed, and how to keep people apart. I doubt we will see any salad bars opening any time soon. There will be more sneeze shields than we could have imagined, meetings will be virtual even though people are in the office, and it will be a long time before collaborative workspaces are allowed at least without sneeze shields.
There are many safe building reopening solutions available in both low-tech and high-tech configurations. For low-tech solutions, there are sanitizing lotions, masks, sneeze shields, disinfecting chemicals/wipes, signage everywhere, hired staff to count people, open doors, and push-buttons. High-tech solutions include smart UV light disinfecting, active occupancy tracking, contact tracing, social distancing awareness, touchless access, air quality, and usage-based cleaning. In many cases, businesses already have the technology; they just need to use it differently. It’s always best to start with what you have and plan for what you need.
It’s too soon to tell what the new normal will be. One thing most experts agree on is we will not be going back to the old normal anytime soon. Knowing that people will social distance, we can not expect all the employees to come back into the office without expanding the office real estate, therefore work for home policies will continue. Some businesses have decided to allow all employees to work from home with the corporate headquarters used as a cultural center and place for team building, strategic meetings, and corporate events.
In this blog series, we will explore the high-tech solutions available for reopening businesses. We will also review the low-tech options and look at the reopening applications across multiple industries. Which solutions will last and which will fade away is anyone’s guess. For now, we need to get the economy restarted in a safe and thoughtful way using the solutions that are available.