The COVID-19 outbreak is anticipated to influence China’s real estate market on many levels, including health and safety procedures recently employed in the country’s office buildings and office workplaces to help mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.
As COVID-19 first began to gain a footing in China, many office landlords and office tenants in the country quickly took steps to ensure office building and office workplace health and safety levels were strengthened, in order to combat the spread of the virus.
Much mitigation work was carried out, including the establishment of office building and office workplace entrance health and safety measures, as well as entrance registration procedures and protocols for all office tenants entering the office building and all employees entering the office workplace.
Within office buildings and office workplaces, beyond just lifts, office landlords and office tenant workplace cleaning teams in China also began target-cleaning door handles, light switches, desk surfaces, chairs, telephones, computer keyboards and computer mice, as these are among the office building and office workplace items most frequently touched by occupants and visitors alike.
Contact with contaminated surfaces is one of the major modes of transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Therefore, many office landlords and office tenant workplace cleaning teams in China did not just methodically clean and sterilise those high-use surfaces mentioned above, but they also cleansed and disinfected other areas and items in the office building/workplace frequently on any given day to curb the possibility of intra-office infection.
Disrupting Airborne Transmission
Just as in the case of normal flu, airborne transmission is another major COVID-19 mode of diffusion and this important point was not lost on office landlords in China.
Related to airborne transmission, for those offices using central air conditioning, office landlords in China also conducted a systematic deep clean of the central HVAC system in their buildings, including regular checks and replacement of air filters. These same teams also ensured airflow throughout the building was correctly distributed, as this is also key to intra-office cross-infection prevention.
For those office buildings in China with central HVAC systems with disinfection and sterilisation capabilities, such as ultraviolet, nano-photon and catalytic oxidation technology, regular checks were carried out on these systems to ensure they were operationally optimised at all times.
Office building airtightness and air pressure are also important features quickly recognised by office landlords in China as being effective precautionary measures to utilise to mitigate the airborne spread of COVID-19.
To prevent air particulates from entering the building in the first place, many office landlords in the country, at the beginning of the COVID outbreak, recognised the importance of creating a positive pressure environment throughout much of the office building. What’s more, these same teams also recognised the importance of creating a negative air pressure environment in those specific localities within the office building, such as toilets, where the virus and bacteria can lurk, in order to funnel air out and away from other areas in the office building.
Keeping Tenants Well
Many office landlords in China also produced and provided their office tenants with COVID-19 health and safety awareness documents, as well as supplies of handheld thermometers, sanitisers, disinfectant and other virus prevention products.
What’s more, today, many office tenants in China have adopted a wellness and wellbeing programme for their office workplace and within this programme, many office tenants in the country know that office workplace health and safety is paramount for their employees and clients and visitors to their office workplaces.
Many office tenants in China also understand that a health and safety-enhanced office workplace wellness and wellbeing programme is essential to make sure their workforce remains optimally operational and as healthy and happy as they can be, as there are proven knock-on benefits to be had from corporate cost reduction and from employee work productivity improvement.
Life After COVID-19
Ahead, driven by even greater awareness of the importance of office building and office workplace health and safety by office landlords, tenants and employees alike, we expect office building health and safety measures and office workplace wellness and wellbeing programmes in China to be prioritised, to grow in number and to reach new heights in terms of standards.
By doing and achieving this, landlords in China will have cleaner and safer office buildings, which will help to retain existing office tenants and attract new office tenants.
Tenants in China, on the other hand, will have a well-developed office workplace wellness and wellbeing programme with a heightened health and safety element to it, which will help to retain existing employee talent and attract new employee talent.
Additionally, as mentioned, this type and level of programme will also help to keep corporate costs down, such as through fewer productive days lost due to employee illness and improved employee work productivity in any given year.