Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, millions of workers were scattered throughout thousands of buildings and towers across the United States. Now, as cities attempt to reopen and get back to business as usual, many organizations are deciding it’s likely that not all of their employees will return to those buildings – now or ever.
Even research giant Nielsen agrees – even once the pandemic crisis has passed, its 3,000 workers in New York City will no longer be required to work in the office full time; rather, they can choose to work from home most of the week, if they would like.
And they’re certainly not alone. As COVID-19 continues to ease its grip, many companies are not only considering how to safely bring back their employees but whether they need to come back at all. When the coronavirus hit, companies all over the world were forced to quickly figure out how to continue to function with employees working from home – and many realized that the changes weren’t all bad, after all.
Given that this is the case, these same companies are now wondering whether it’s really worth it to continue paying high commercial rent prices, especially given public health considerations and social distancing practices that will likely make the packed workplaces of years past a less realistic option.
The return to the physical workplace has been slower than many office owners expected, which is causing them to consider creative measures to make returning to their buildings more attractive. In the beginning phases of many cities’ reopening plans, office owners readily implemented quick and easy solutions, such as social distancing signs and hand sanitizing stations.
Even with these precautions in place, the number of employees returning to the buildings was lower than expected. Here are some measures that smart office owners are taking to help make their buildings more attractive to tenants:
Upgrades to HVAC Systems
This is easily one of the most costly updates that many office owners are considering, given that tenants are more concerned than ever about the air that flows through their offices. However, the high cost, combined with the uncertainty about how effective HVAC upgrades are at slowing or preventing the spread of the virus, is leading some building owners to hesitate.
The types of upgrades that are recommended to help combat COVID-19 can cost approximately $3 per square foot – meaning that for a 200,000 square foot building, you’re looking at a cost of $600,000. And in addition to the upfront cost, these types of upgrades will likely increase the building’s monthly utility bills, as well.
Temperature Check Stations
Rather than having someone sit out front and check the temperature of everyone walking through the door, many landlords are also considering implementing new technology to take employees’ and visitors’ temperatures before they even enter the building. Bruce Pike saw a need for this technology early on in the pandemic and created a company called Temperature Check.
Pike’s company offers free-standing temperature checking stations with face-scanning technology for approximately $3,000 and also offers a smaller-scale product that scans the wrist for temperature for around $1,300. Pike freely admits that there are significant costs to implementing his products, but explains that most of the building owners he has talked to are more concerned about getting people back to work – and doing it safely.
Lobby Storage Lockers
Another feature being offered in many commercial buildings is storage lockers in lobbies of buildings where employees can leave their jackets, shoes, bags, or other items that may have become contaminated or exposed to germs in their daily commute. Utilizing these types of lockers can help cut down on the germs being brought into the office, especially among employees who take public transit.