image of figurines of commercial real estate agents social distancing

Social Distancing Requirements Impacting Commercial Real Estate

When the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in the United States in January, it’s fair to say that the vast majority of people never thought it would lead to the nation being effectively shut down for the foreseeable future. Now over halfway through the year and restrictions still in place throughout most of the country, all kinds of businesses are being forced to adapt or go under. The commercial real estate industry is no exception, and it is important for all investors, property managers and building owners to know exactly what they’re dealing with.

It’s worth noting that, depending on the specific business operating out of a commercial space, there will be a variety of unique individual issues that need to be handled. In general, however, these are the social distancing requirements that need to be addressed in order for the space to be open and operational:

Ventilation is a Priority

All commercial spaces must have proper ventilation in order to help prevent Coronavirus spread. This means windows should be able to be opened, and ventilation systems may be in need of an upgrade. Many commercial spaces are also adding in fans and vents where none existed before.

Office Layouts Must Allow for Desk Spacing Requirements

Yes, a lot of offices are still sitting empty, with employees telecommuting from home as they wait out the pandemic. However, many others are going back to work in their office settings in order to increase productivity and communication. In order to do so, they generally must meet social distancing requirements by spacing desks out and seating employees so they face away from each other. Furthermore, cubicles are poised to make a comeback in lieu of the open offices that have become prevalent in recent years. Having divisions between work spaces is important in order to slow the spread of germs

On this note, many companies that are opening back up are even looking to relocate to larger spaces that allow for them to spread out. Conference rooms and walkways must also be expanded, allowing for coworkers to safely pass one another without coming into close personal contact.

Store Space Needs Are Changing

Most retail businesses now must operate at limited capacity and/or provide clear directional walkways for customers. Rather than sacrifice inventory and displays, a lot of retailers are therefore looking to expand their spaces when their leases are up.

On the flip side, other retailers that have been heavily hit by the pandemic are looking to downsize. They are looking for spaces where they can still effectively run their businesses with social distancing requirements in places, but within a smaller setup.

Cleanliness is a Must

All commercial spaces need to be cleaned more frequently now, meaning there must be easy access to cleaning supplies. Sinks are considered a plus, as are bathrooms that can be both easily cleaned and give customers and tenants more space.

Automated Features are a Welcome Bonus

Before 2020, the world was already making a gradual shift toward automation. From lighting to doors opening to even elevators knowing when to stop by themselves, automation has made great strides. Now with the ongoing pandemic, the fewer buttons and surfaces that need to be touched, the better. Automation helps promote as little personal contact and germ-sharing as possible, so it is likely that commercial properties with automated features will become even hotter commodities in the near future.