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Transparency of information – in the building lobby – will be key to return to work

The key to giving people the confidence to returning to the workplace will be massive transparency of information – for both tenants and landlords, NAREIM’s Architecture & Engineering meeting heard this week.

It’s about perception.

As corporations discuss how and when employees should return to offices, NAREIM members were told it was challenging to make a building “virus-free” – instead, the focus had to be on communicating and maintaining the health and wellness of the environment and the people within it.

One “how-to” idea.

To that end, smart dashboards on lobby doors displaying the cleaning status of a property, elevator wait times, occupancy and air quality could be ways of providing greater transparency of asset health and wellness information to users, some of which could be tied to third party standards such as the Well Building Institute and FitWel.

Health and wellness will continue to be a major focus of tenants during a post-Covid recovery and return, the Architecture & Engineering meeting heard.

What were the takeaways of the A&E meeting?

Dealing with Covid:

The most effective strategies for reducing the risk of SARS-COV-2 were simple and routine, specifically deep and thorough cleaning, conducted regularly, increasing outdoor air ventilation and improving filtration, alongside mask wearing and social distancing.

The simple and basic approach doesn’t solve for tenant and user confidence however – so think ahead.

  • What technologies? Technologies, including Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization – which purifies air by creating positive and negative ions which target contaminants – and Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation – which uses short-wavelength ultraviolet light to kill or inactivate microorganisms – could be part of a wider health and wellness strategy for assets that help build confidence and leasing potential in your building, and the people using it on a daily basis..


In the wake of Covid-19, we’re remembering what we most need from our properties – a sense of belonging and a sense of community. That’s what the office and apartment of the near-term will need to look like.

  • Rethink the first floor. Buildings, particularly offices, need to be a part of their community and should give over space, including former retail units, to community initiatives and operations. As we focus increasingly on social and racial justice, what are assets and landlords doing to contribute to the narrative?

  • Collaboration spaces and bringing the outdoors in. Open-plan isn’t dead, in fact in the wake of Covid-19 it will only become more important. The reason we need offices is to collaborate as teams, therefore offices will need more spaces designed to get people on the move to help them think. And offices will increasingly need to bring the outdoors in, through covered and enclosed decks, to cater for rising demand for health and wellness at work.


Digital is everything when we think of the asset of the future.

  • Digital twins. This is not just an online copy of your building – a digital twin is a digital representation of a physical asset that is not only accurate but connected for a purpose and are the means by which assets will increasingly be designed, managed, and analyzed in the next 3-5 years.

  • Digital twins will tell you not just about the health and operations of the building but also about the people using it. How are occupiers moving around the space, how do they connect with one another and collaborate?

  • Mobility. The parking garage isn’t dead. But you need to plan for a time when autonomous vehicles, including aerial ridesharing, such as Uber Air, are commonplace and you need not just drop-off zones, but landing pads throughout your high-rise apartment building. Plan for renovation, give yourself the necessary height, avoid ramps, and prepare now for transforming the garage over the next decade.

  • Be more effective. Including with your assets. You and your buildings need to be much more effective and do more with less. Rethink multifamily with multi-stack modular designs that avoid corridors, and increase density (and privacy).

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