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Health and Safety Must Be Priority for Returning Office Workers


By Greg Zimmerman Facilities Management
office workers with masks

At one office building where the cafeteria is closed for seating, occupants have the option to use GrubHub from the cafeteria and have it delivered right to their desk. At another, occupants get stickers when when they enter the facility each day — these stickers are to be used to put on the bathroom door to help comply with the new “no more than two at a time” policy. (If you approach the bathroom and there are two stickers on the door, you wait.) Decals on the floor encourage social distancing. Hand sanitizer is everywhere. 

As offices reopen, facility managers are getting creative with new-normal strategies. The goal: Not just to keep occupants healthy and safe, but also to be visible, daily reminders that facility managers are doing everything in their power to ensure that occupants are healthy and safe. “These practices must be reassuring for tenants (and occupants),” says Lance Knez, a vice president at Hines and president of BOMA/Chicago. “They want to know we’re anticipating their concerns.”

But how do you know that these measures are keeping occupants safe, healthy, and satisfied with their space? Stormy Friday, president of the Friday Group, a facility management consulting firm, says that FMs these days need to be communicators “par excellence.” Continue to survey occupants on what measures are working, what measures they like, but just as importantly, what measures they don’t like (but may be necessary). Is there a way to find a middle ground, or tweak something slightly to make it less cumbersome for occupants, but still as effective in preventing virus spread? “The most important thing is finding out if occupants feel safe,” says Friday. 

Look for a story in the August issue of Building Operating Management about occupant satisfaction regarding COVID-19 health and safety measures. 

This post was submitted by Greg Zimmerman, editor, Building Operating Management and FacilitiesNet.com. 

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