Landlords are about to have no choice but to use technology to get us back in their buildings. We as individuals are all about to have to make the choice about how to balance our own personal health with our desire to earn income and enjoy experiences outside our home.
If you are waiting for a national “It’s Safe To Go Back” day, it isn’t happening. At least not for a few years once scientists, officials, doctors, and epidemiologists have a vaccine, thousands of trials, and years of data on COVID’s TRUE virality and mortality rate. Your company can’t wait that long to resume business. What company can?
Your office building can’t wait that long to have you back working and grabbing coffee downstairs, a sandwich at lunch, and renewing that lease. Your shopping centers can’t wait that long to have you back enjoying long lunches, trying on clothes with the kids, and buying non-Amazon ANYTHING. They need you to come back. Now! And how do you know when it’s safe to come back, mask or not? (Hint: the answer is NOT landlords getting cheaper debt or some other financial engineering, which is somehow what passes for innovation in real estate. Financial creativity does not address building safety.)
The answer is — you won’t know. You are going to start seeing emails and marketing campaigns about why you should come back. The over-arching message will be “look how much we are doing to keep you safe.” And I’m sure you’ll get bombarded with “look how often we clean the space” by the laggards, but the market leaders know better (and so should you).
You aren’t going to defeat an invisible, resilient enemy simply through more frequent cleaning and spreading people out. Sooner or later, you just have to trust that landlords have done enough to keep your safety as a priority. And, as I hinted, no amount of financial engineering, creative leasing, or snappy press releases are going to do it . . . Just technology. Your landlord HAS to start implementing property-level technology that makes you feel safe. There is no other choice.