BOMA International’s Coronavirus Resource Center

Since the release of BOMA International’s very first COVID-19 guidance document back in January 2020, the BOMA Coronavirus Resource Center (www.boma.org/coronavirus) has served as a repository of credible information and thought leadership to help commercial real estate professionals navigate unprecedented change. Over time, it has expanded to include insightful articles, comprehensive research and links to helpful analysis, documents, websites and webinars. As the industry moves towards recovery, bringing new issues and priorities to the surface, the BOMA Coronavirus Resource Center continues to serve as a place for knowledge amid transformation. The resources highlighted below have been curated to reflect the current state of the industry and to help property professionals rebound from adversity. An archive of all materials shared and produced in response to the height of the pandemic emergency can be found in the Content Archive section located towards the bottom of the page.

Thank you to Yardi for their support of our COVID-19 thought leadership.       

What's New

Read Now: Deep Dive No.4

Property professionals and their tenants are emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic with a renewed appreciation for the value of connectivity in the built environment. As they have discovered, a commercial property must be more than just technologically enabled to be considered connected in a post-pandemic world. Deep Dive No. 4: The Office Building’s Role in the Optimized City of the Future explores the essential role office buildings play in fostering a renewed sense of connection in their communities. This fourth installment in our series of BOMA Deep Dives challenges conventional wisdom about “smart buildings” and “smart cities” to uncover how innovation and strategic decisions made at the property level could help power a more sustainable, resilient and equitable future for occupants of commercial buildings—and the communities in which they reside.

And check out this bonus video interview between the author of Deep Dive No. 4 and two industry experts who contributed to this in-depth exploration.

Featured Resources

Getting Back to Work 3.0: Best Practices for Managing Commercial Buildings During COVID-19 Recovery

Getting Back to Work 3.0: Best Practices for Managing Commercial Buildings During COVID-19 Recovery builds upon guidance resources produced by BOMA International at varying stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. The third installment in the Getting Back to Work series includes updates and additional information relevant to today’s commercial property professionals, including guidance on vaccination policies and employee health and well-being concerns.



Deep Dive No. 1

Simply put, the COVID-19 pandemic is changing things for the commercial office sector—and it seems to be doing so in stages. Charting a Path to the Future of the Office, the first in our series of BOMA Deep Dives, provides a comprehensive snapshot of the industry amid transformation and demystifies the road to “Workplace 2.0.” And check out the bonus video interview between the author of Deep Dive No. 1 and two BOMA members who served as experts for this first BOMA Deep Dive.





Deep Dive No. 2

Property professionals and tenant occupiers are busy preparing for the “Great Return” of office workers. While mask-wearing requirements and social distancing measures have their place in these arrangements, there also is a critical human element that must be considered. Tenant Culture and the Psychology of the Return, the second in our series of BOMA Deep Dives, explores the role of the office in reconnecting a changed workforce. And check out the bonus video interview between the author of Deep Dive No. 2 and two industry experts who contributed to this BOMA Deep Dive.







Deep Dive No.3

Across the U.S., workers are returning to the office, businesses are opening to full capacity and public health guidance is easing to reflect a growing population of vaccinated individuals. Behind the scenes, property professionals are working tirelessly to deliver health-centric environments that reflect the needs of tenants. Health, Wellness and Sustainability Beyond COVID-19, the third in our series of BOMA Deep Dives, explores tenant well-being and highlights commercial real estate’s role in helping building occupants thrive during the early stages of pandemic recovery and beyond. And Check out this bonus video interview between the author of Health, Wellness and Sustainability Beyond COVID-19 and three industry experts who contributed to BOMA Deep Dive No. 3.



Improving Occupant Safety Inside Buildings

Drawing from guidance issued by health agencies and industry organizations, BOMA International and Jacobs have partnered to share Improving Occupant Safety Inside Buildings, a resource designed to provide property professionals with timely operational recommendations to consider for their building systems.

Looking Ahead: The Future of the Industry

This time last year, many people across the United States were forced to vacate their offices and find ways to work remotely. What quickly became clear is that not all home work setups are created equal, and while it may be going smoothly for those with dedicated workspaces, gigabit Internet and ergonomic office furniture, others struggle working at kitchen tables with spotty Wi-Fi and distracting roommates. The circumstances have led many to recognize the equalizing role of the in-person office, where workers have equal access to the tools—and relationships—they need to succeed. As more employees return to the office, tenant companies must not lose sight of the importance of an equitable work environment and should consider new ways that the office can be leveraged to support its employees. And, property professionals should be prepared to help tenants carry out these efforts every step of the way..

Since the start of the pandemic, landlords and property managers have been working with tenants to create a safe and healthy environment for building occupants. As more and more people have access to the vaccine, more employees are returning to office buildings. While COVID-19 vaccines are encouraging for employers currently struggling to balance worker safety with a desire to return to the workplace, the rollout has prompted a number of complex questions for landlords, property managers and tenants on how to handle vaccinations in the workplace. In BOMA’s just-released article, Frequently Asked Questions: COVID-19 Vaccines and Mitigation Measures, an attorney from Ballard Spahr’s Labor & Employment Practice Group sheds some legal perspective on the matter.

On March 11, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion relief package, into law. The bill directs $7.5 billion to replenishing Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds and provides an additional $15 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) advance grants. Restaurant tenants are eligible for an additional $25 billion in grants. The bill also provides $350 billion for state and local governments to assist with essential services. The funds should reduce the pressure on states to raise commercial real estate taxes to offset lost revenue. To review other key provisions in the bill that affect commercial real estate and related business, download BOMA International’s guide, What You Need to Know: The Biden Administration’s National Strategy and American Rescue Plan. .

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted both the commercial real estate industry and the scientific community to consider the role building systems might play in the health and safety of building occupants. Navigating through evolving new considerations for building operations can be challenging—and often complicated—work for property professionals, which is why BOMA International has partnered with global engineering and professional services firm Jacobs to share expert guidance around optimizing building systems to maximize occupant health and safety and mitigate risk. Drawing from guidance issued by health agencies and industry organizations, Improving Occupant Safety Inside Buildings provides property professionals with timely operational recommendations for building systems. While there is no single “one-size-fits-all” solution for all building types and systems, the guidance found in this resource can help commercial owners and operators determine the best strategies and technologies to deploy in their buildings now and in the months ahead.

As workers gradually return to the office, property managers are enlisting the help of innovative technology solutions to help facilitate the transition. Among these cutting-edge solutions are sensors that measure space density, elevator antibacterial ultraviolet lights and new functionalities on mobile applications that allow users to schedule in-office time and engage with colleagues who are working remotely. According to industry experts, such adoptions will help assure tenants that the "next normal" will be a safe one. Read more to discover what property professionals are doing to accommodate their tenants’ Great Return.

While COVID-19 continues to be a disruptive force for the office sector and its tenants, the perceived value of the office as a key ingredient of business success remains strong. That is one of the major takeaways of the BOMA International COVID-19 Commercial Real Estate Impact Study, a groundbreaking study of more than 3,000 U.S. commercial office space decision-makers commissioned by BOMA International, underwritten by global real estate software company Yardi and developed by Brightline Strategies, a leading real estate research and advisory services firm. The study, published in December 2020, provides a clear indication of the pandemic’s broader transformational effects on commercial real estate and how tenant attitudes towards the in-person work environment have shifted. The survey found that almost half of the respondents would be somewhat or very likely to renew their leases if the decision was based solely on building managers’ responses to COVID-19. But what exactly are building managers doing that is working? And what tenant concerns should today’s owners and operators be aware of? Read our deep dive on the results of the study to find the answers to these and other questions. Interested in participating in a future study? Contact covidstudy@brightlinestrategies.com.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how property professionals are approaching budget season for 2021 and how they are reforecasting income, operating expenses and capital expenses to predict their property's financial performance at the end of 2020. In finalizing their reforecasts, property professionals are also recalculating projected operating expense pass-throughs to tenants for the current year. BOMA International and InspiRE Commercial Real Estate Services have partnered to create a resource to help you navigate the new uncertainties surrounding operating expense calculations and reconciliations. The Impact of COVID-19 on Operating Expense Pass-Throughs in Commercial Real Estate provides guidance on steps to take now to ensure a smooth transition into 2021.

BOMA International has published Managing Through Pandemics: Preparing Your Buildings, Tenants and Staff, a guidebook covering every aspect of managing a commercial building through a global health crisis. Covering everything from creating a pandemic plan to business continuity and legal considerations, Managing Through Pandemics is an essential resource for all property professionals. Two decades into the 21st century, the world has already faced several pandemic outbreaks, including SARS in 2003, the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009 and COVID-19 over the past year—and we will likely face more. Use this guide, available as a free resource thanks to the generous support of Yardi, to better prepare for what comes next.

Despite the majority of office workers still working remotely, the overall appetite for the traditional in-person work environment remains high. While those working from home have managed to remain productive, Cushman & Wakefield’s “The Future of Workplace” research report found that employees feel like they are losing meaningful connections and a sense of organizational culture, since certain learning and mentoring opportunities are not easily replicated in a virtual environment. Now more than ever, commercial tenants are recognizing the power that the office holds, and its ability to serve as an inspiring destination abound with opportunities for cultural connection, team bonding and innovation. Today’s property professionals must be prepared help clients fulfill their renewed workplace expectations, while leveraging other key considerations for these unprecedented times. Read more from Cushman & Wakefield’s Marla Maloney as she breaks down The Ongoing Value of the Traditional Office.

While the trials of social distancing, widespread quarantine and business interruption caught most of us unprepared, the COVID-19 pandemic has added yet another layer to property professionals' arsenal of contingency plans. In addition to implementing new operational best practices, the crisis has prompted building managers to beef up their emergency preparedness plans, re-evaluate their communication protocols and even redefine how they view work-life balance. Industry experts reflect on what the pandemic has taught them so far—from the pain points it exposed to the current policies and procedures it reaffirmed.

Many workplaces have begun allowing employees who wish to return to the office to come in as long as social-distancing procedures can be followed. The looming questions, however, are how will tenants know it is safe to return to their space, and will employees feel comfortable getting on an elevator, sitting in a cubicle or drinking coffee at the building’s outdoor café? While the office is not going away, workspaces are being forced to change. Read more about how building owners and property managers can reduce risk and take measures to help ease tenants’ anxiety about the built environment both now and in the long term.

What role will the office have in a post-pandemic future? Based on CBRE’s recent survey of 126 senior-level real estate executives across the globe, confidence in the physical office remains strong, as close to half (41 percent) of respondents indicated that its importance would decrease only slightly. Among other significant findings, 73 percent of survey respondents say flexible office space will be a part of their long-term real estate strategy. CBRE also makes note of an emerging trend towards a more hybrid workforce, in which employees would work fluidly between remote locations and a physical office.

In recent months, the entire world has become hyper-conscious of the many objects our hands touch throughout the day. Adding to this awareness, property professionals and tenants are actively taking inventory of the “high-touch” areas within an office building as they flesh out re-entry cleaning protocols. While the jury remains out on how exactly the COVID-19 pandemic will inform workplace design and operations, design firm Gensler suggests that increased implementation of touchless technology is to be expected. Thanks to advanced gesture control, facial recognition and voice activation capabilities, touchless workplaces may be the norm in a not-so-distant future.

Re-Entry Resources

BOMA International's Getting Back to Work 3.0: Best Practices for Managing Commercial Buildings During COVID-19 Recovery (April 9, 2021)

Updated: BOMA International's Industrial Re-Set: Operational and Management Guidlines for Industrial Properties Amid COVID-19 (April 9, 2021)

Improving Occupant Safety Inside Buildings (January 20, 2021)

Commercial Real Estate: What Will Bring the People Back? by Building Cognition's Simon Turner (November 10, 2020)

BOMA International's Getting Back to Work 2.0: Building Re-Entry Best Practices in a COVID-19 Reality (October 23, 2020)

BOMA International's Managing Through Pandemics: Preparing Your Buildings, Tenants and Staff Guide (September 15, 2020)

Green Seal’s Guidelines for Safer COVID-19 Disinfecting (August 24, 2020)

Trane's ASHRAE Recommendations for COVID-19 Engineers Newsletter (June 25, 2020)

BOMA Canada's Pathway Back to Work: Commercial Real Estate, Coronavirus and Re-Entry Guide Version 2 (June 18, 2020)

BOMA International's COVID 19: Preparing for Emergency Evacuations (June 9, 2020)

SAPOA's Re-Entry Guidance Document (June 1, 2020)

BOMA International's Industrial Re-Set: Operational and Management Guidelines for Industrial Properties Amid COVID-19 (May 18, 2020)

CDC's Workplace Reopening Decision Tool (May 15, 2020)

SAPOA's COVID-19 Signage Catalogue (May 15, 2020)

National Institute of Building Sciences' COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall: Preparing for Re-Entering Buildings Overview (May 7, 2020)

BOMA International's Getting Back to Work: Preparing Buildings for Re-Entry Amid COVID-19 (May 6, 2020)

BOMA International's Re-Entry: Important Tips from Your Building Service Providers Webinar in Partnership with BOMA's Cornerstone Partners (April 29, 2020)

CDC's Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools and Homes (April 28, 2020)

BOMA International's Getting Back to Work: Preparing Buildings for Re-Entry (April 24, 2020)

Cushman & Wakefield's Recovery Readiness: A How-to Guide for Reopening your Workplace Version 1.0 (April 21, 2020)

Opening Up America Again Guidelines from the White House (April 16, 2020)

CDC and FEMA's Draft Work for America Document (April 14, 2020)

Cushman & Wakefield's 6 Feet Office (April 13, 2020)

BOMA International's COVID-19: Maintaining Building Operations During Shutdown and Preparing for Re-Occupancy (April 8, 2020)

BOMA International's COVID-19: Risk Mitigation, Planning and Preparing for Re-Occupancy (April 8, 2020)

BOMA China's COVID-19 Back to Work Preparation for Commercial Buildings Presentation in Partnership with BOMA Canada (April 8, 2020)

A Discussion of Potential Measures to Support Continuation of Normal Business Activities by Thomas L. Hill and BOMA China (April 8, 2020)

CDC's Guidance for Building Water Systems Before Reopening (April 7, 2020)

Gensler's What Happens When We Return to the Workplace (April 3, 2020)

Webinars

In-Depth COVID-19 Coverage

The recent approval of vaccines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has raised issues regarding the process of vaccine prioritization. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency developed guidance on essential workers that informed the three-tiered system for vaccine distribution recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The focus has been on health care personnel, front-line essential workers and then other essential workers. BOMA International worked with DHS to develop the specific language identifying workers in commercial buildings as essential employees, classified in Group 1c. Read more about what this means for property professionals in our vaccine distribution information document, which summarizes the vaccine prioritization process at the federal level, how the decision process occurs and who is making the recommendations.

Working from home in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a “trial-by-fire” experiment for many commercial real estate professionals and tenants alike—an experiment that may continue for some time as many stay-at-home orders remain in place across the U.S. As property professionals brace for more of the same, whether that’s video conferencing from the kitchen table or operating an unusually quiet commercial building, this is the perfect time to take inventory of the lessons we’ve learned in recent weeks. Take it from industry leader Joe Markling, BOMA Fellow, CPM, CRCMP, RPA, who shares that “this is an unusual opportunity for us to re-evaluate our typical routines and plan to make changes going forward,” even when we’re back in our brick-and-mortar offices. Check out Markling's commentary on our current remote work phenomenon.

What will tenants want in a post-COVID-19 world? A growing body of research by JLL suggests that the modern tenant’s wish list might include these four things: Space design that offers greater dedication, privacy and separation from others; flexible work schedules and locations; hyper-focus on health and safety; and opportunities to collaborate and to concentrate. JLL notes that some of these trends were already emerging prior to the coronavirus outbreak, but owners and managers can expect that they will gain momentum in this new environment.

U.S. state and local governments have been at the center of the COVID-19 emergency, and BOMA local associations have been hard at work ensuring that policies both slow the spread of the virus and also allow essential services to continue. Most government actions have taken place through executive orders, but a next wave of policy activity will be coming soon as many state legislatures are still in session. Some of this activity may significantly inform commercial real estate operations, especially as governments across the U.S consider plans for reopening businesses. To assist members with tracking any COVID-related state legislation, BOMA International has created a dynamic live report that details all current bills introduced at the state level that directly relate to the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many property professionals to review the force majeure clauses in their leases and contracts. Law firm Ballard Spahr LLP has published a white paper and hosted a companion webinar on what triggers force majeure clauses and what actions may be required. The firm’s COVID-19 Resource Center also includes alerts on a variety of issues, as well as other webinars and legislative tracking tools.

In response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27, 2020. This historic bill, the third legislative response to COVID-19, provides more than $2 trillion for economic relief to businesses and individuals, as well as much-needed resources to state and local governments. While the bill has sweeping measures for many industries, BOMA International’s advocacy staff focused their efforts on itemizing those measures that may affect your businesses, your employees and your tenants. A comprehensive document detailing these measures can be found here. For more in-depth analysis, click here to listen to BOMA International's April 7, 2020 flash call.

With new COVID-19-related policies and orders being released at a rapid pace at the state and local level, it can be a challenge to stay on top of the latest policy news. The National Governors Association’s coronavirus resource page posts current content concerning each state, as well as a basic overview of the latest efforts by the federal government. Updated each day, the page includes a summary State Action Tracking Chart and lists the states that have adopted emergency declarations, National Guard activations, travel restrictions, limits on gatherings, school closures and non-essential business closures. Users can select a specific state and view a comprehensive, chronological list of actions taken along with a link to that state’s public health coronavirus resource page.

Crisis management professionals at full-service, global law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman have compiled 10 key takeaways that property owners and operators should consider as they plan to confront the coronavirus outbreak. Among other considerations, the article provides advice on assessing risk, as well as guidance for reviewing language in property policies and leases regarding liability management. The firm’s resource page also includes insights on relevant topics such as cybersecurity considerations while working remotely.

As concerns regarding the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on businesses continue to grow, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has developed a resource page to aid the private sector as they navigate these challenges. The resources include a Guidance for Employers document that addresses things like how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at work and a Resilience in a Box toolkit that covers basic best practices for business resilience.

For help preventing workplace exposure, evaluating risk and preparing for the possibility of a community outbreak, real estate companies and tenants should refer to the CDC's Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers, an in-depth resource that formed the basis for BOMA International’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Preparedness Checklist. Among other measures, employers are advised to encourage sick employees to stay home by providing flexible sick leave policies.

The owners and operators of healthcare facilities and medical office buildings need to be aware of unique prevention methods specific to a healthcare environment. The CDC offers guidance and resources for these purposes. For example, healthcare real estate professionals should ensure their facilities are posting hygiene and etiquette signage in strategic places; allocating alternate waiting and care areas for patients with respiratory symptoms; and preparing their telecommunication systems for an increase in telemedicine.