Our Glass is at Least Half Full

By Shelby Christensen, LEED Green Associate

Part of being BOMA International chair is the opportunity to meet with BOMA members across the United States and around the world. When I was sworn in this past July, I knew my time as chair would look different from previous years, but I was confident we would find a way to continue to create the kind of connections that make BOMA so valuable.

And, I certainly wasn’t wrong! Over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to participate virtually in many BOMA local association luncheons, panels and webinars—even more than I would have during a "normal" year! While I know many of us are eager to see each other in person, I still love how much energy BOMA members bring to these virtual events. I am continually blown away by how innovative and flexible our industry has been in response to the enormous challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are many reasons to be optimistic about the future of commercial real estate. As many of you know, my background is in industrial real estate, and that sector seems unstoppable. Already doing well before the pandemic, the dramatic increase in e-commerce over the past few months has only strengthened it. The line between industrial and retail is continuing to blur, and we’ll be seeing the impacts of this year on consumer habits for a long time (see "Industrial Real Estate Is Booming [With No End in Sight]").

I’m definitely a "glass half full" kind of person (even now!). We have many more challenges ahead of us, but I can already see how we will emerge from this crisis stronger than ever. This year’s great "work-from-home" experiment has shined a light on the importance of the office. Being physically present in the office provides so many opportunities to communicate and collaborate with our colleagues; I’m sure we all have at least a few stories about miscommunications and missteps that have happened as a result of being remote. I miss seeing co-workers and connecting with them, I miss having a dedicated work space away from the distractions of home and I miss the reliable connectivity and infrastructure that meant I never dropped a call or was interrupted by my neighbor’s lawnmower—and I know I’m not alone (read more about work-from-home sentiments in "What Office Workers Want"). I believe we will see workers rushing back to the office, as soon as we can all do so safely.

To help get everyone safely back to work, BOMA International has continued creating COVID-19 guidance documents and just released Managing Through Pandemics: Preparing Your Buildings, Tenants and Staff, a guidebook covering every aspect of managing a commercial building through a global health crisis. Using guidance from leading experts and lessons learned from across the industry, the guide covers everything from creating a pandemic plan to business continuity to legal considerations. And, thanks to the generous support of Yardi, this guidebook is available as a free resource at www.boma.org/pandemicguide.

All of these changes and challenges are spurring innovation in commercial real estate, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard work. We are at least six months into this pandemic, and we’re not at the end yet. I want every BOMA member to know: BOMA is here for you. BOMA leadership, volunteers and staff are working every day to support the industry through resources, education and advocacy. I hope to see many of you at a virtual event sometime soon. Until then, be well and stay safe.