As companies gear up to get back to work, many are preparing their office spaces to try and make them more immune to the coronavirus. They’re increasingly bringing in thermal cameras, HVAC systems that can eliminate some germs from the air, contactless coffee machines, and more. They can also schedule more office cleaning sessions to keep the space clean and sanitized.
One example is a company called Marx Realty, which had been planning a $24 million renovation of its New York City headquarters. Beyond adding a touchless Purell dispenser in the main lobby, it’s also installing anti-microbial materials throughout the building. And visitors will be checked using a thermal screening machine, it said.
“What’s important about the COVID world is that people still feel comfortable and it feels warm and inviting when they enter the building, especially after being on the trains and buses and walking in their masks,” Craig Deitelzweig, CEO of Marx Realty, told The Real Deal. “Everyone wants a hospitality feel but now they will work together, six feet apart.”
Another tactic Marx Realty is employing is to eliminate common touch points. So, for example, employees will be able to control elevators using their smartphones. And a doorperson at the building entrance will eliminate another common touch point.
The company is also looking at adding ultraviolet light to its HVAC systems, which are said to be able to help kill bacteria and viruses in the air. Couches and chairs in the lobby will be covered with velvet cloth that’s designed to be cleaned more easily.
“Companies may sell their old furniture to Office Furniture Liquidators and begin to use more furniture designed for health care spaces because those products were designed to be more easily and reliably sanitized.,” James Keenoy, president of Farrell Flynne, a furniture procurement specialist, told The Real Deal.
Meanwhile, Nabil Sabet, an architect and group director at global design firm M Moser, said modern offices can expect to undergo several changes due to COVID-19.
Physical changes that he highlighted include more stringent ventilation strategies that combine extraction, air changes, filtering and sterilization of recirculating air. They may also require hospital-grade sanitizing in the commercial cleaning services they hire. Finally, he said that laptops and secure virtual private networks that enable mobility are likely to become the norm at many companies.