Workplace Policies Aim to Prevent Coronavirus Spread

March 6, 2020

COVID-19, more commonly known as a coronavirus, is sparking fear internationally, and businesses are trying to help prevent the spread of the virus with a range of new efforts in the workplace, from ordering more frequent cleaning of buildings to suspending company travel.

The National Association of REALTORS® announced Thursday that it was suspending all non-essential travel for staff and volunteers, joining dozens of other U.S.-based companies that have instituted similar measures. The travel suspension affects several of NAR's upcoming conferences. Additionally, commercial landlords nationwide are reporting a decline in tenant presence at their buildings as more companies offer or expand work-from-home options to keep employees safe from contracting the disease.

Major office landlords reportedly are stepping up efforts to keep their workspaces sanitary. One such effort: They’re installing hand sanitizer dispensers throughout buildings. In New York, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is advising property owners and managers to continue routine maintenance with disinfecting products and offering more extensive guidance on keeping properties clean.

Businesses also are following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, encouraging sick employees to stay home and doing more regular cleaning of commonly touched surfaces in the office. “We’ve stockpiled antibacterial soap and cleaning solution, and we distributed the CDC guidelines for businesses and employers to our tenants,” Jordan Barowitz of the Durst Organization told The Real Deal. “We’re in touch with the Department of Health through [the Real Estate Board of New York] and are monitoring the situation closely.”

Company officials with commercial real estate company Brookfield told The Real Deal that it has increased how often it cleans surfaces at its properties. It’s also requiring any employees who have returned from high-risk countries for the coronavirus to immediately contact human resources.