The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many businesses that typically work onsite to switch to a remote work model, leaving commercial real estate owners to wonder when, or if, they will return. Enticing tenants to come back could be a tough sell. Before COVID-19, a reliable in-building wireless network, good location, and some amenities would be enough to meet tenants’ demands. It’s a different time now however and CRE owners have another tenant demand to meet if they want full occupancy again—a virus-free building.
It would be impossible to 100% guarantee tenants wouldn’t contract the Coronavirus in their building, but CRE owners can take several steps to lower the odds of that happening. There are a number of different products that building owners can use to help safeguard against COVID-19, The Wall Street Journal reports. For example, the Comfy workplace app can keep track of how many people are in an office at once. The app can also book desks and meeting rooms as well as send employees the latest local health guidelines.
Meanwhile, companies like Siemens and Bosch are offering sensors that can monitor social distancing or order cleaning services. Technology company Enlightened recently created a tracking app that lets users know if they’ve come across someone who has COVID-19. Digital advertising company PubMatic’s app Safeter lets businesses send employees health questionnaires and reshuffle workers’ arrival times so hallways and elevators aren’t overcrowded. Safeter’s paid version includes arrival, departure and meeting scheduling features.
CRE owners are investing in COVID-19 prevention
Tracking apps are a good way to stay on help curtail COVID-19 spread, but what if an employee doesn’t use a smartphone? Some companies are accounting for that fact and making their actual building safer, too. Brookfield Asset Management is upgrading its buildings’ air filtration and is examining ways to implement as many “hands-free” solutions as possible.
“The critical task employers have is to build confidence among their employee base that their offices are safe,” Brookfield Head of Real Estate, Europe Zach Vaughan, told The Wall Street Journal.
Meanwhile, European property developer Liviu Tudo has invested more than $1 million through his company to ensure its buildings are safe for tenants to return to. Tudor is testing safety features with Ericsson, which includes ultraviolet light disinfection systems, self-cleaning toilets, antimicrobial paint, and even a quarantine room for anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 or shows symptoms.
Connectivity will be critical in making buildings safe
CRE owners’ ability to keep their buildings Coronavirus-free will depend a lot on the tools that they use. Those tools vary, but whether they’re apps that monitor building occupancy or can spot COVID-19 or building amenities such as UV light disinfectant systems or improved HVAC systems, the tools have something in common. Many of them are Internet-based and will only be effective if the building’s wireless network is reliable. That means CRE owners’ mission to make their buildings safe for tenants to return is two-fold. They first have to have a strong, reliable in-building network in place. Then they can embrace all of the COVID-19 prevention solutions that are at their disposal. One simply won’t work without the other.
Joe Dyton can be reached at email@example.com.