From tracing apps to strictly enforced rules on the use of masks, office landlords prepare for eventual reopening.
The majority of big corporate employers are taking a compassionate approach, allowing employees who feel uncomfortable returning to the office ahead of CDC recommendations to continue working from home. They are also being thoughtful about how to make the workplace safe for returning workers, notes David Sapin, principal, connected solutions, with consulting firm PwC.
“There is a huge concern regarding liability,” notes Joy DeBacker, managing director of asset management for Los Angeles-based office owner Olive Hill Group. “What if someone gets sick at the workplace, or worse, succumbs to COVID-19 due to workplace exposure? Employers must ensure they are implementing strategies that are known to reduce the spread of this disease.”
There are no guarantees, no matter what precautions are taken, she adds, but there are still measures that can help assuage tenants’ fears and help them transition to a “new normal.”
The Olive Group’s property managers will welcome tenants back, but will require all people entering its buildings to respect social distancing rules and wear facemasks, DeBacker says. The biggest challenge she foresees ahead is communicating to tenants that these rules are not optional, figuring out how to enforce them and instituting repercussions for not respecting them.
Some states—including Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Iowa—are threatening to cut off unemployment benefits if employees fail to report to work. While this is likely to have the greatest impact on restaurant and retail employees, such mandates add another layer of fear for a populace worried about catching COVID-10 and struggling to make ends meet at the same time.