Guest post by Pranav Tyagi, Founder and CEO, Tango

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted business as we know it, requiring the majority of organizations across the nation to adopt remote work models. And although there is talk amongst governors in various states to begin planning for a gradual ease of restrictions, including reopening businesses, a full return to normal could still be weeks, if not months, away.

As we continue to navigate these uncertain times, corporate real estate (CRE) professionals have been feeling added pressure to perform many of their business-as-usual tasks. Overseeing and managing workspaces, space usage, maintenance, cleaning, security, and lease management now presents a whole new set of challenges related to the pandemic due to social distancing guidelines and additional employee safety measures. Exacerbating these difficulties are the financial concerns of managing occupancy costs when spaces are not being fully utilized.

Fortunately, advanced technology solutions which leverage AI and machine learning can play a key role in helping organizations mitigate many of these challenges. Through integrated workplace management system (IWMS) solutions which utilize AI, CRE professionals can apply data insights into their workplace planning and scheduling to make timely and informed decisions that can reduce risks during these uncertain times. Combining advanced modeling with robust data can give organizations access to critical information fundamental to their current office spaces even while they are working remotely.

Of course, any businesses’ number one priority is its employees. Beyond ensuring worker safety, real estate executives are still trying to understand the longer-term impact on their workspace requirements, planning and occupancy costs. In the short term, however, there are three steps they can take by utilizing IWMS software to keep costs at bay while ensuring their workspace is safely and securely maintained until employees return.

  1. Assign COVID-19 maintenance activities – To eliminate contamination from possible employee exposure prior to or during stay-at-home policies, CRE professionals should leverage the operations and maintenance features of their IWMS solution to create new scheduled maintenance cadences, such as deep cleaning, with detailed procedure steps that can then be audited to prove the work was completed. Through assignment features incorporated into the system, executives can create and execute new occupational health and safety maintenance procedures to be automatically distributed to all employees.
  1. Assess Planned & Active Project Impacts – To help reduce extra costs, CRE professionals should review schedules for major capital projects in flight (new builds, major remodels, retrofits, etc.) and forecast timeline and budgetary impacts. Using the project management functionality of their IWMS solution, they can send notifications to all internal project resources and external partners, such as general contractors and subcontractors, to inform them of project changes. Additionally, they should freeze and re-plan all Moves/Adds/Changes planned or in process.
  1. Reduce occupancy costs – Real estate is a significant enterprise expense for most companies and physical office spaces are likely not being utilized fully in this environment. As a result,companies are digging into every one of their leases to determine their rights and ability to reduce or eliminate rent payments, such as force majeure and kick out clauses.Through built-in lease management capabilities within their IWMS platform, organizations can calculate reduced payments or stop payment to some landlords, and book any downstream accounting entries that are required. Additionally, they can analyze the entire lease portfolio to plan and execute a systematic lease renegotiation program across all their leases and landlords.

Having the right IWMS software tools in place can help mitigate the many liabilities and challenges facing CRE professionals during a crisis such as the current pandemic. By applying the right technologies, organizations can access the timely and accurate data they need to make critical decisions affecting both their workspaces and their people.

Pranav Tyagi, Founder and CEO, Tango