In times of crisis, property operations and management teams can play a highly crucial role in responding swiftly and effectively to the viral outbreak. 

Although many schools and universities are shutting down and ‘work-from-home’ arrangements being mooted by businesses, the contagious nature of the virus means that risk of infection is ever-present, both indoors and outdoors. As things stand, people continue to flock public spaces – such as offices, supermarkets, and hospitals – in significant numbers. 

Especially now with Covid-19 officially classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization, it makes it all the more essential for property owners, operators, and management teams to be agile and methodical to continue mitigating the risks of infection inside buildings and to limit potential transmission incidents. 

The challenge is considerable, but most medical experts agree that prevention and precaution will have the most telling positive effect. 

Here are 5 actionable strategies that you can put to practice right now. 

1) Create awareness and set up an operational response room

It’s critical to create awareness for front-line staff and formulate a response center that can act as a hub of your operations. Empowering your teams with the right information and right set of tools can go a long way in helping members combat the Covid-19 outbreak. Here’s how you can start:  

  • Access credible sources such as the WHO and your national medical bodies, to educate yourself as well as your teams about preventive and precautionary measures.
  • Leverage vendor relationships to secure the supply of essentials such as gloves, masks, and disinfectants, in response to on-going supply-chain disruptions.
  • Counseling plays an important part in giving your workforce a platform for dialogue, during a challenging time. Viral outbreaks are stressful and engaging with the workforce via digital solutions is the best approach to ensure that the entire team is on the same page.

2) Re-strategize soft services routines to control infection

Expert opinion is that panic caused by such medical challenges is often as dangerous as the outbreak itself, but overreaction must be distinguished from preparedness. 

Revisit existing cleaning strategies and take stock of the preventive measures you can deploy. Some simple but effective actions that can make a difference include:

  • Increase the frequency with which premises are sprayed with disinfectant especially in shared spaces, common areas, and conference rooms.
  • Routinely sanitize accessories that frequently come in contact with multiple occupants, such as doorknobs, handrails, desks, work surfaces, elevator buttons, and common area seats and tables.

 

3) Maintain optimal humidity and indoor air quality

  • Research conducted by ASHRAE underscores the major role that air quality can play in containing the spread of the COVID-19 contagion. HVAC systems should be optimized through predictive maintenance of filters and continual containment and exhaustion of air.
  • A recent study by NCBI establishes a definitive correlation between higher humidity levels and relative inactivity of the COVID-19 virus strains. Building managers can explore raising relative indoor humidity above 40%, as a preventive measure.

 

4) Closely manage visitors; create an easy way to engage occupants

  • Enable data-driven visitor logs, which store vital health/travel-related information, and assist authorities with reliable data if needed.
  • Transparency is key to empowering all stakeholders. Share guidelines via display kiosks and screens ((find Apple’s recommendation for cleaning devices here)). Demonstrate how the property is actively working to mitigate risk by providing real-time status updates via occupant apps to keep them in the know-how.

 

5) Leverage technology in real estate operations

Beyond the above immediate impact, experts note that increased application of technology for enhanced worker safety, IoT, and health care facilities will continue. More scrutiny on asset specification and quality stand is a key outcome to note. For example, it is imperative that buildings are built to an assuring standard with good ventilation and filtering systems in place. Tenants will increasingly seek such provisions with a view to providing a safe and healthy workplace for employees. 

 

Finally, it’s very important that we don’t panic. Property operators and managers are most accustomed to keep things in line and taking action in emergency situations. While COVID-19 can pose a threat to health, panicking only leads to rash decisions that aggravate the situation. 

Having a transparent system in place to reinforce operational strategy, develop maintenance routines, and engage with stakeholders will go a long way in helping you be agile and respond effectively to contain the viral outbreak.

Tough times as these can be ameliorated by being compassionate and sharing best practices with the community at large. So, we curated top useful and inspiring real-life examples of property management teams stepping on the gas to control the spread of Covid-19. We are in this together and let’s put up a united fight against the global pandemic. Together we can.