Roundtable Weekly
CDC Summarizes โ€œRe-Opening Americaโ€ Initiatives; EPA Provides Building Water Quality Checklist; Roundtable Board Member Interviewed on Office Return
May 22, 2020

CNBC Squawkbox interview with Owen Thomas

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week released a comprehensive summary of its initiatives and tools to enable fuller reopening of communities and businesses, as all 50 states are taking steps to return to a “new normal” after months of COVID-19 shutdowns and stay-at-home orders.  (CDC’s “Activities and Initiatives Supporting the Covid-19 Response” and NYTimes national map, May 21)

Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued an information resource and checklist to address water quality in buildings as they ramp-up operations.  EPA recommends that owners and managers take proactive steps to minimize water stagnation in plumbing systems during temporary shutdowns or reduced operations, prior to building re-population.  See:

Additionally, Roundtable Board Member Owen Thomas (CEO, Boston Properties) was interviewed yesterday on CNBC’s Squawkbox  (photo above) about the pandemic’s impact as employees return to office environments and how cities may compare to suburbs as major work hubs of the future. (CNBC interview, May 21) 

  • “We have a pandemic underway; there will be a gradual return to the office.  But I do think companies will be actively using their offices in the long-term,” Thomas said.

  • “I also hear from customers that remote work is not an acceptable replacement for the in-person interactions that happen in the office space. The ability to mentor younger employees. The spontaneous collaboration and creativity that occurs and also the culture that companies develop – it’s very difficult to do it when we’re all on Zoom and Webex.” (Thomas CNBC interview, May 21)

  • Roundtable members who have recently been interviewed about workplace return strategies and technologies include Immediate Past Chair Bill Rudin, Roundtable Member Scott Rechler and others. (Roundtable Weekly, May 15)

Two industry reports issued this month also address return-to-work guidelines and COVID-19 operational contingency plans:

  • A CBRE analysis of 203 companies’ operations across the globe – “ReEntering the World’s Workplaces” – shows many companies have implemented return-to-work guidelines stricter than local government requirements  (CBRE news release, May 15)  / (GlobeSt, May 18)

  • A Deloitte survey of 100 senior financial service institutions’ (FSI) executives with responsibility for crisis management and business continuity planning reveals that at least half of the respondents are developing COVID-19 operational contingency plans spanning at least the next three months. Part of the complexity around re-opening has to do with the scale and scope of FSI real estate. (Deloitte, May 15)

The Roundtable’s Building Re-Entry Working Group continues to meet weekly to address issues associated with the restarting of the economy. 

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