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Expert Advice on Planning a Reopen Strategy

Morgan Mosher is senior principal at T3 Advisors, the global real estate and workplace solutions company focused on technology and life sciences tenants. Recently Mosher published a list of Critical Questions to Ask Your Landlord to help prepare clients for reopening offices and workspaces against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis.

Mosher spoke recently with Lambent about reopen strategies as part of our continuing CIO & Executive series focused on helping campuses and venues reopen.

On First Steps: My step one is really building a robust task force—and part of that task force is having somebody representing legal implications, as well as health care. Everybody is thinking, of course, that you need someone from IT, you need someone from facilities, you need someone from people ops. But there’s a lot of other things we need to be focusing on—like legal and health care.

[For example] The dental startup Floss Bar has a consulting arm that is offering education on how to take temperatures. So, you can be looking out for health care resources out there. That way, you’ll have an opinion that is a little more educated on the topic. I think those healthcare voices are absolutely important to have at the table.

On Welcoming Back: I don’t think there’s going to be  a single one of my clients that reenter and don’t do some level of physical distancing.  One of the things I’ve been talking about to my clients is the plan to use labels like red Xs and other visual cues—and thinking about how you can do that in a softer way. For me, personally, it would be a little jarring to be sitting next to someone and return to see  a giant, red X. We’re already going to be a little uncomfortable. and we need to build that comfort and that safety level back. I think removing chairs, putting in planters, thinking about softer ways to showcase that physical distancing is going to help.

On Questions for Landlords: We broke it down into a few different categories, like medical communication is a category. So how are they handling common areas, like elevators and lobbies, and is there a coffee shop in the lobby?  Are there going to be visitor restrictions? You can make sure that your landlord is thinking about those things.

Oftentimes, everything you do for your building is only going to be as effective as the building you’re in. You could have perfect procedures and if you are in a multi-tenant building, and your landlord hasn’t properly addressed something like increasing outdoor air circulation, or didn’t change their elevator protocols, it makes everything you did null and void. Those conversations with your landlord are critical.

“Oftentimes, everything you do for your building is only going to be as effective as the building you’re in.”

On Reopen Priorities: Now the conversation is very heavily focused on re-entry—and how do we go about that. Last month a big theme was taking temperatures and a lot of trying to understand the legal implications of that. And now a lot of people are talking about physical distancing requirements. What does that look like? Those are the two primary things that most people are asking about. The other stuff, like ordering face masks and ordering hand sanitizer, people know how to do that on their own. But as far as tiered scheduling, and who is on their task force, and physical distancing layouts, no one wants to go too far down that road alone. They want to stay with the pack on this.

On Phased Reentry – I think it’s the only way a lot of the physical distancing layouts are going to be work. Because people aren’t going to magically have a ton more square footage. Phased reentry is way more important than tiered scheduling—really figuring out which job functions are critical and need to be performed within the confinements of an office.

[If you are using tiers,] I would stay away from using Team A or Team No. 1 and Team No. 2. If I were on Team B, I’d be thinking ‘What? I’m on the junior varsity team. I’m not as important as the A team.’  The same goes for the phrase ‘essential.’ Because everyone wants to think of their job function as essential, especially in these tumultuous times.

“If I were on Team B, I’d be thinking ‘What?  I’m on the junior varsity team. I’m not as important as the A team.

On Information Overload: People are going to be bombarded with products – ‘Use this product and it will clean everything like magic!’ and then there’s the whole spectrum of politics and emotions that will be involved. There could be somebody who thinks this [COVID-19] is a hoax sitting next to someone who is scared out of their mind. We really need to take a lot of the emotion and politics out of it, and bring in professionals to give you the best guidance, so you aren’t making decisions based on those two things.

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