SAN FRANCISCO—The Centers for Disease Control/CDC has issued an urgent call for companies to plan and prepare procedural statements on the novel coronavirus or COVID-19. Buildings which house those companies must do so as well.
IREM acknowledges that property managers around the world are concerned about the health and well-being of tenants and residents as well as operational and business implications related to the spread of the coronavirus. The World Health Organization/WHO and the CDC are monitoring the situation in real-time, and while much is still unknown about how the virus spreads, both organizations have issued guidance for preventing exposure to respiratory illnesses as well as planning considerations for places of business.
The coronavirus resources that should be visited regularly for the latest information:
World Health Organization─Find rolling updates on the virus, workplace readiness, basic protective measures and press briefings.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention─Find information for businesses, interim guidance and frequently asked questions about the virus.
It is IREM’s position that these organizations are the best resources for up-to-date science-based information about the coronavirus. IREM has reached out to both the WHO and the CDC for specific guidance for real estate managers to prepare for and respond to an instance of COVID-19 should it occur at a property site just as those organizations have done for other industries serving concentrated populations such as airlines and cruise ships. In the meantime, IREM suggests some general best practices:
- If a property manager becomes aware of a tenant or resident with a confirmed case of COVID-19, he or she should contact the WHO, CDC or local health department immediately.
- Prepare a continuity plan if one is not already in place, and make sure employees have reviewed and understand the plan.
- Thoroughly review all leases to make sure they address potential business disruptions in a pandemic.
- Keep the working environment healthy by establishing hygiene protocols such as providing easily accessible hand sanitizers, ensuring adequate air circulation and encouraging the use of sick leave as necessary.
- Provide residents and tenants with common sense actions they can take to prevent the spread of infection. IREM has prepared customizable templates that property managers can use to post at their properties.
In addition, as an extension of the corporate workplace and a tenant of more than 40 buildings, Serendipity Labs has also posted a coronavirus mitigation policy and business continuity planning statement on its website.
“Co-working operators are responsible for maintaining a safe and secure workplace. Many of our customers are multinational companies, so we already have to meet the same standards for Duty of Care they do,” John Arenas, chairman and CEO of Serendipity Labs, tells GlobeSt.com. “Part of that is to be sure we communicate quickly to members, partners and staff so they know what our policies are. As an industry best practice, we posted our Serendipity Labs coronavirus mitigation policy and business continuity planning statement on our front page last week, making it available to everyone.”
And, Serendipity Labs flex offices are a workforce alternative for employees who need high speed WiFi for video conferencing closer to home. Its WiFi is HIPAA and Sarbanes Oxley-complaint as well as PCI DSS-compliant for e-commerce security. It has a location in Dublin, CA that is scheduled for opening in second quarter should the virus spread further into the region.
“The CDC recommendation for reducing risks of exposure to COVID-19 in business settings is a practice known as social distancing. This calls for reducing the size of work groups and gatherings,” Arenas tells GlobeSt.com. “And, if the co-working operator has a sophisticated IT platform in terms of security and bandwidth, meetings can be streamed as an alternative to larger meetings.”
Its locations are not densely populated co-working/shared office locations, so the social distancing the CDC recommends is easier to enforce at these facilities. Serendipity Labs is sanitizing all work stations and co-working facilities after each use, and focus rooms and phone retreats have individual ventilation.