May 4, 2020

9 Communication Points For Your Tenants On Office Re-Entry

Your tenants are strategizing on their return to the office now. As states begin to lift their shelter at home orders, many teams are now beginning to think about how to manage their teams’ re-entry to their office space. Many teams are feeling cooped up at home and are ready to get out of the house and back to the office. And, their leadership teams are trying to make sense of what they need to prepare in the way of new guidelines for office space availability, utilization, safety, and remote work.

Key questions tenants are grappling with include:

  • What’s the best way to poll our employees so we can gauge how they feel about returning to work and what their biggest concerns are?
  • How do we plan guidelines to make sure that office use is safe, fair, and available to all of our teams?
  • Should we be reconfiguring our furniture layout or instituting occupancy schedules so team members are 6 feet or more apart?
  • How should we manage and track who is in the office and when, in case someone becomes infected?
  • How do we support and help parents that still have young children at home and won’t have schools, camps, or child care for some time?
  • Do we have available masks, hand sanitizer or hand sanitizer stations abundantly available? What is our responsibility for deep cleaning every day?
  • How do we enable team members to communicate if they are sick and if there was potential exposure to others in the office? Should we have all employees tested for covid-19 in order to return?
  • How do we ensure all of our critical processes have enough redundancy to ensure that they don’t depend on one person? How do we prevent being handicapped if one team member gets really sick for an extended period of time?
  • How do we help our team feel connected, positive, and motivated?

In this time where there will continue to be lots of unknowns, property managers and tenants are both going to need to take agile approaches to office re-entry. Holding virtual meetings, posting FAQs, and distributing guidance for tenants can be helpful ways to make sure tenants are clear on expectations from a building access perspective. Over communication in these times will not hurt and help the entire community to build confidence in the safety of their spaces.

Key pieces of information that will be important to know from each tenant:

  1. Primary Contact: Who is the primary point of contact at the tenant organization for returning to work?
  2. Office Open Date: When do they anticipate the first phase of returning to the office to begin?
  3. Office Access Policy: What is the tenant’s policy for returning to work, how do they plan to enforce it, and how many employees does that mean could be in the office at one time per the policy?  (e.g., employees in different teams on different days, voluntary return to work, staging of arrival and departure times, etc.)
  4. Reporting Plan: What is the tenant’s plan for reporting suspected and confirmed cases after returning to work?

Key items to communicate to tenants:

  1. Q&A Protocol - How do you plan to receive and answer tenant questions or concerns about building safety and access?
  2. Security Features - What are any changes or reminders on security check-in, door locks, and door/directory/elevator automation?
  3. Building Flow - What are the changes to flow throughout the building in terms of which doors and elevators are open and for whom (staff, tenants, visitors/deliveries, etc.)? 
  4. Sanitization - What are the locations of sanitization locations in main and amenity areas of the building? What will be the cleaning protocol and frequency? What are the cleaning products that will be used? How will air filters and air quality be addressed?
  5. Parking - What are the changes to parking, parking access, daily parking payment programs, parking elevators, etc.
  6. Deliveries - What are the changes to receiving deliveries in terms of location, available hours, and cleaning procedures?
  7. Amenity Areas - What are the changes to amenity area availability and accessibility if any? What is the guidance for social distancing in these areas?
  8. Building Maintenance - How will building to office maintenance be handled if staff need to enter tenant space? Will building personnel and janitorial staff be expected to wear personal protective gear?
  9. Covid-19 Exposure - How are tenants expected to communicate about the health of their teams or in the case of potential exposure in the building?

This does not represent a complete checklist but can help you begin to reshape your tenant communication strategy going forward. Agile approaches are about learning and optimizing as you learn about what is working and what is not. Open up the paths of communication so that tenants and property teams can learn together and evolve the protocols over time.

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