It seems like ages ago now, but on Christmas Day a van exploded in downtown Nashville, damaging an AT&T transmission facility and cutting of Internet and other communications in several states. Not two weeks later, on January 6, rioters breached barriers at the Capitol building in Washington, DC threatening the lives and safety of those inside — five people died.

The two events taking place so close together represent the risks that corporate owners and managers of real estate face every day, all around the world. 

Last week, CoreNet Global assembled a pop-up webinar on political instability and civil unrest that focused on the risks related to corporate real estate moving forward from these tragic events. 

Gavin Bloch, SLCR, Facilities Director at Splice moderated the discussion with Robert A. Peck, Hon. AIA, Hon. ASLA, Principal, Workplace Government & Defense Practice Area Leader, Gensler.
Previously, Peck served for eight years as Commissioner of the U.S. General Services Administration’s Public Buildings Service and Henry Chamberlain, APR, FASAE, CAE, President & COO, Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International.

What are the ongoing risks that corporate real estate managers will be facing?

  • Continued social unrest
    • Impeachment hearings will take place into the spring
    • Economic recession
    • High vacancy rates in downtown areas because of the pandemic 
  • Cybersecurity threats
  • Companies that are involved in social media platforms are at risk of being targeted
  • Drones can protect against terrorism but can also wreak havoc
  • Cyber terrorism remains prevalent globally 

And what are recommended strategies to counter them?

  • Know your audience
    • Are employees having a difficult domestic situation?
    • Has the building been the target of graffiti, indicating that it is marked for future activity? 
    • Are there tenets in your building that might be a target for protests?
  • Create a plan
    • Assemble a team of project managers, engineers, security firms to create plans for all types of events and update them at least yearly
    • Hold drills with employees, this makes them both involved and prepared 
    • Question your security teams and don’t assume they know everything. If your security team pushes back on being questioned, get a new security team. 
    • Discuss whether security will be armed
  • Execute proactive strategies
    • Keep conference rooms close to main entrances and elevator banks
    • Do not allow visitors to go beyond the conference room — this will protect data and physical security
    • Stay close to your staffs, include mental health benefits and bring in counselors when needed to manage stress and anxiety 
    • Install physical barriers, such as shatter-proof windows and protective barriers on ground levels that can lowered or raised as circumstances warrant 
    • Ensure that lobby concierges have full views of open areas 

Both Chamberlain and Peck reinforced that open lobbies and common areas will not be things of the past, but the event at the U.S. Capitol and others, combined with the pandemic do make life more difficult. 

“The concentration has to be on making our staffs comfortable that they can come back into a safe environment,” Chamberlain said. “Rebuiliding this economy is going to take a lot of awareness and work.”

Listen to the full webinar here