Tips to keep your property clean and safe amidst the COVID-19 crisis
While many of us are still working from home, around the world more and more employees are returning to their offices. There is plenty of excitement and happiness amongst people glad to be returning to a semblance of normalcy, but the outbreak is already putting extra pressure on businesses to keep their spaces as clean and safe as possible. When workers start descending on their offices en masse, that pressure will likely become overwhelming.
If building occupants don't know that you're looking out for their safety, you're missing an opportunity to demonstrate your value as a manager or landlord while reassuring your tenants that they are safe.
With that in mind, what can landlords do to keep their spaces as clean, sterile and healthy as possible? For general COVID-19 advice, check out our articles for commercial managers and multifamily managers. Specific to cleaning and disinfecting during the crisis, here are a few tips to start you on the right track.
1. Be sure you're cleaning properly
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) distinguishes between cleaning (removing dirt and germs) and disinfecting (killing but not removing things like viruses and bacteria). The CDC provides comprehensive cleaning and disinfecting guidance here. A few takeaways: wear gloves when cleaning or disinfecting, be sure to use disinfectants that are approved for use against the new coronavirus (this list is a good start), and to clean before disinfecting.
If you're outsourcing your cleaning operation, be sure that your crew is aware of how to properly disinfect surfaces that may harbor the virus. Steam isn't recommended for this use, but a wide range of chemicals are.
2. Help your tenants promote social distancing
As a landlord, you probably can't tell your tenants how to use their space once they are in it. However, you can take other steps to help people keep their distance, even after they begin to trickle back to your property. In your common areas, consider reducing the density of furniture to prevent people from clustering in certain areas.
Even if you can't tell your tenants how to use their space, you can provide them with the information and encouragement they need to return to the office as safely as possible. Physical bulletin boards or display screens is one way to do this, but they both still end up encouraging people to congregate in specific areas. Instead, consider using a tenant experience platform like Spaceflow to rapidly, safely share the most timely information.
3. Accept that this may be the new normal
While we may see some relaxing in the virus response regulations in effect around the world, some researchers think that COVID-19 may never really go away. Instead, they suspect, it may linger on for many years, periodically re-surfacing like the flu. While developing a vaccine would go a long way to ameliorating this problem, the comparative severity of COVID-19 versus the flu means that it will likely be a long-term challenge that property managers and landlords won't be able to afford to ignore.
Practically speaking, you may need to increase your annual budget for cleaning services going forward. And on the same note, potentially considering ways to make cleaning and disinfecting easier—increased use of non-porous surfaces; better ventilation systems; etc—could become necessary.
4. Be visible
While making sure spaces stay clean and safe is the most important issue right now, property managers should be sure to broadcast the efforts they are taking to their tenants. If building occupants don't know that you're looking out for their safety, you're missing an opportunity to demonstrate your value as a manager or landlord while reassuring your tenants that they are safe.
Tenant experience platforms like Spaceflow make it easy to communicate your efforts to all your tenants. Post pictures in the Newsfeed, and send out an update message once or twice a week summarizing what you're focusing on and including links to authoritative COVID-19 resources.
The new coronavirus has made life much harder for everyone, but with the right perspective and an adaptable mindset you'll be able to make the most of the situation no matter the type of property you work with.
Read our CEO's statement and perspective on COVID-19 here.