Is your building ready to be occupied when coronavirus restrictions are lifted?
Over the next few weeks or months businesses will begin to bring employees back into the workplace. Landlords, Property Managers and Building Managers will need to ensure that their properties are ready to re-open to their tenants.
How and when tenants will return will vary, but Landlords, Property Managers and Building Managers must follow some standard procedures to ensure occupants can be kept as safe as possible upon return to work.
The following are the four essential steps that Landlords, Property Managers and Building Managers must follow.
Download our free ‘COVID-19 Property Checklist’ – CLICK HERE
Prepare the Building
Anyone preparing the building (including cleaners) must be provided with the appropriate PPE (gloves, mask, eye protection, coveralls). They must be trained in how to fit, use and dispose of the PPE correctly. They should be completely clear on the requirements for hand washing and social distancing.
The building must undergo thorough cleaning and disinfection. All surfaces, workstations and high use areas (e.g. toilets, kitchens, door handles, touch pads) should be disinfected. There should be sufficient cleaning products and cleaning equipment on-site to make sure that areas can continue to be cleaned properly.
Before occupants can return to the building, you will need to complete a variety of pre-return checks to ensure a safe and healthy environment. Buildings may have been shut down with little warning and preparation and should be checked for any damage or issues relating to a period of vacancy. The operation of critical services and equipment should be assessed, including: –
- Mechanical systems
- Water systems
- Fire safety systems
- Fire equipment
- Electrical systems
Only when all areas have been inspected and cleaned can your building be declared ready.
Control Access to the Building
Controlling who has access and how people access the building will go a long way in keeping everyone safe.
You may want to consider reducing the number of entrances to ensure access is closely monitored. However, it may be safer to open alternative entrances and designate specific entrances and exits for tenants, to reduce crowding at key access points in the building. Either way, hand sanitizer should be provided at all entrances and exits, and floor markings placed to indicate safe distances where queues may be likely to form.
Reception areas should be arranged to reduce direct contact between reception staff and visitors. Screens might be needed to protect reception staff, and touch-screen visitor logs removed or regularly disinfected to reduce risk of infection.
Clear signage should be installed at all entrances and exits to indicate appropriate access points and one-way systems. Signage should also remind people entering the building to follow hand-washing and social distancing protocols.
Create a Social Distancing Plan
The government has consistently stated the importance of social distancing in the fight against the coronavirus.
Landlords, Property Managers and Building Managers must ensure there are measures in place that allow occupants to adhere to social distancing protocols. Access to facilities (e.g. toilets, shower rooms, kitchens, break areas) should be managed to limit numbers. Signage should be installed to make sure occupants are clear on the restrictions you have put in place.
Any large gathering spaces and smaller break-out areas should be closed. The capacity of meetings room can be reduced by removing chairs and installing signage to notify occupants of the restrictions.
You should also consider if one-way systems can be installed in common circulation areas and install clear signage to indicate the correct direction of movement.
Reduce Touchpoints and Increase Cleaning
By reducing the how often occupants make physical contact with items in the building, the spread of infection can be reduced.
All high touch points and areas of the building will need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly. You may also want to consider: –
- Keeping the lights on at all times to reduce contact with light switches;
- Propping open non-essential doors (FIRE DOORS MUST BE KEPT CLOSED AT ALL TIMES);
- Disabling room booking panels;
- Removing shared conference phones and remote control handsets; and
- Removing collaboration equipment, such as white boards and pens.
The government may lift restrictions, but people are still anxious about returning to work. As a Landlord, Property Manager or Building Manager, you need to recognize the fear of the employees/occupants in returning. A clear and robust plan for the preparation and ongoing maintenance of your building will be the key to ensuring the confidence of your tenants.
Why not download our free ‘COVID-19 Property Checklist’? – CLICK HERE