ALABAMA REAL ESTATE JOURNAL

How COVID-19 May Impact your Office’s Real Estate Decisions

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has obviously created unprecedented circumstances within our world and economy. More than anything else, this new disease has introduced uncertainty for many businesses, as the public is not aware how long the new reality will last and what extra steps the federal or local governments will put in place to slow down the spread of this virus.

While office tenants are generally able to operate from home, this has added plenty of strain for many operations that are not adjusted to a work-from-home model and have critical business functions that are best conducted within an office workplace. Just the simple act of being in close proximity to people typically lends itself to the invention of new ideas and helps advance a business.

Thankful to not be struck as hard as retail tenants, office tenants still have their share of challenges during this time, and with the economy booming just before the COVID-19 induced panic, it is easy to see why many office tenants are looking for some sense of certainty during this situation.

There are a few certain steps that could be helpful during these uncertain times:

Ask your Landlord what steps they are taking to keep your office building safe

While many of your employees are likely adjusting to working from home, some employees might need to be at the office to handle mission-critical or essential tasks and items. If this is the case, it is a good idea to check in with the Landlord to find out what steps they are taking to keep the work environment safe. Many Landlords are implementing a deep cleaning of office suites, employing day-porters to clean common spaces, and are locking doors to outside guests and non-essential personnel. Remember, while the Landlord will obey any government regulations, they should be working to keep your workplace safe and accessible.

Let your Landlord know if personnel will be coming in or working from home

Giving your Landlord a head’s up that you will have employees coming in or staying home can be key in helping your Landlord establish cleaning timelines during the duration of this situation and can help them know where they need to focus their efforts. This is also helpful in the staffing of building engineers or maintenance teams. View your Landlord as a partner during this time, as the overall goal is to maintain the workplace safety while not affecting the ability to conduct business.

Keep Real Estate Decisions on Track

This could be the most key piece of information. While it seems easy to allow a pandemic to pause your real estate decisions, after all, it is hard to imagine your future work place when no one is working in the office, Tenants should seek to keep these decisions on track. If you are nearing a lease expiration and are in need of a move, expansion, or down-size, now is the time to be making those decisions – even if it is hard to picture that everyone will be populating an office six months from now. Allow some of this lock-in time to be dedicated to building a plan for what your workplace will look like in six months to a year and use this as an opportunity to take stock of the things you would like to see in your office space. Has your Landlord been offering a well-communicated sanitation plan during this time? Is your office space flexible to fit your needs today and in the future? Ask these questions and more while you have the opportunity, and then come out of this lock-down with a clearer image of how you want your workplace to be.

While these are indeed uncertain times for users of real estate, the positive news is that this has allowed for many to step back and get a good perspective on how smoothly their operations work, including Landlords. As an office tenant, do not be afraid to view your Landlord as a partner in accomplishing your mission, and if you have a question or request for them during this time – ask! You may be surprised at their willingness to accommodate.

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