CoreNet Global has been hosting virtual education in real time via our COVID resource site. In case you missed it, here is a recent Q&A highlight on coronavirus-related topics that corporate real estate professionals are wrestling with and solving

As we look at the return to office strategy, I’d like to understand how to decide what is business critical. As companies prioritize their staggered approach to re-entry, how are you setting parameters around who needs to be in the office first?

While our executive team would like to see everybody back together, the reality is that working remotely is working. We are starting to put together a plan for what the phase-in effort will look like, including physical distancing measures. It’s all the more interesting because we have spent a lot of time and money to outfit our office, we have all these engineers who like to have drawings on the wall, and now we are thinking ‘why did we spend all this money on our office when it’s clearly working to be remote?’
In terms of defining mission critical, if companies come up with a muddy answer, are employees going to think that returning to the office is voluntary for most people?

For us, it’s a work in progress. We would allow anyone who needs to continue working from home due to child-care issues, being medically vulnerable or just being uncomfortable about returning to continue doing that for now. We are also taking weekly pulse surveys of our staff to find out which teams are struggling the most with working from home. It is our engineering teams that are struggling most, and we are trying to bring them back first. It might be different teams coming back on different days.
If we are going to need to take temperatures when employees come back to the office, how are we going to do that?

We purchased thermal sensors from a company in California. That’s what we are using to screen associates as they return to work. We will be doing this at all our locations.
Who are you using for the thermal screening? Internal employees, or contractors?

We are using our security guard force to do that. They will be wearing the N95 masks.

Are you funneling employees through a single-entry point?

Yes. This is all through the main entrance. We have closed all the other entrances.

Aren’t more and more governments requiring face masks?

At our company, we’ve decided to require surgical-grade masks. It only protects people if everyone is wearing them. I don’t think it does a lot of good if you only make it optional.
Shouldn’t it be the employee’s responsibility to provide these masks? You could argue that people already must wear them, if they are out and about. Why does the workplace have to provide these?

We have decided to provide them. If associates want to bring their own from home, we’re allowing that.
We are assuming that some employees will bring their own, but we are providing them as well, in case someone forgets theirs, or if we have visitors coming in who need one.

If the company is providing masks, then the company must supply them for all employees. That is an OSHA requirement. There are a fair number of OSHA requirements that work that way.

We understand how to deploy social distancing across our floor for seating. But what is everyone considering for pantries, restrooms and other shared spaces?

We are increasing cleaning services in all areas. That’s increasing from a couple of times per day to six or seven times per day, including all the high-touch areas. And our cleaning will increase in the evening and on the weekend. We have changed standards of cleaning products per the CDC. This does affect some LEED things, but this is required.

We are placing more emphasis on signage for cleaning, disinfecting and handwashing. We’ve installed a foot-operated door opener in our restrooms, the same mechanism that was discussed in the prior webinar.
We are focusing on communications and being as transparent as possible to the employees and staff and communicating to them with visuals and verbal cues. We want them to know that our workspace is being cleaned diligently, so we’re doing it during hours, not after hours, so employees can see that it’s being done.