Reopening Your Office Post COVID-19? How Agents Can Do So Safely
Many states have loosened social distancing orders over the last few weeks, allowing businesses (brokerages included) to gradually open their doors to the public.
But reopening shouldn’t mean it’s business as usual — at least if you want your colleagues and clients kept safe.
Are you one of the many agents considering opening your office as stay-at-home orders expire? Make sure you heed these safety protocols before you do:
Stagger hours with other agents.
Having your entire team in the office from 9 until 5 just isn’t reasonable in the current climate. Consider setting up staggered work schedules with your colleagues. One of you can work 8 to 11, the other from 11 to 2, and the third from 2 to 5.
Steer clear of team lunches and in-person meetings, too (unless you’re able to keep a safe distance from each other).
Limit your appointments.
Your doors may be open, but that doesn’t mean you should be booked up appointment-wise. Keep your appointments to a minimum, and only have clients and partners in the office if it’s absolutely necessary.
Whenever possible, lean on tech to fill the gaps. Use FaceTime or Zoom to meet with clients and show houses, and leverage DocuSign or HelloSign for digital contracts and paperwork.
Consider shortened work weeks.
With staggered schedules, your team probably won’t be working 40-hour weeks for a while, at least in the office. Consider adopting an abbreviated work week until the current health crisis blows over — maybe 20 hours in the office and 20 at home.
Keep in mind that many of your agents may be dealing with other responsibilities during this time, too (like caring for kids who are no longer in school or able to attend daycare). Make sure you’re flexible in light of all this.
Clean and sanitize shared surfaces often.
Stock up on cleaning supplies and be prepared to clean and sanitize your office space regularly — ideally between every shift. You’ll want to pay careful attention to any shared areas — counters, faucet handles, doorknobs, trash can lids, computer mouses, phones, etc.
If you can afford it for the time being, consider having a pro cleaning crew come in once or twice a week to give the office a good deep clean, too. (This can also provide some much-needed reassurance for your team).
Invest in a contactless thermometer.
Fever is one of the most notable symptoms of COVID-19, so having a thermometer on hand is critical if you’re going to be open to the public. Ask your agents to self-check their temperatures upon entering the office (give them gloves to handle the thermometer), and stop clients and partners at the door for a check-in as well. Generally, anything over 99 degrees should be considered cause for concern.
Enable a hands-free environment when possible.
The fewer surfaces your agents and clients have to touch, the better. Think about putting foot-pulls on your doors (especially in the bathroom), and add touchless faucets, soap dispensers, sanitizing dispensers, and more. Adding audio-enabled smart tech can also help you cut down on touchpoints as well.
Be flexible with your health policy.
If you’re going to keep each other (and your clients) safe, then both you and your team need to make health a priority. If anyone is even remotely feeling ill or showing signs of sickness, make sure they feel comfortable telling you and that they won’t be penalized for staying home. The same goes for if a loved one is sick.
If anyone has sickness in their household (particularly with COVID-19-like symptoms), ask that your colleagues stay home for at least two weeks until the risk of transmission subsides.
Stock up on the right supplies.
Have masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer available for your team members and clients to use when entering the property. Make sure there are plenty of trash cans around, too (ideally motion-activated ones or ones without lids), and encourage everyone to pick up after themselves — particularly items they’ve eaten or drank out of.
Space things out.
If your desks or chairs are less than six feet apart, it’s time for a little rearranging. Push desks a safe distance away, and be sure any meeting rooms are addressed as well. You should also give walkways a wide berth, and institute a one-person-in-the-bathroom-only policy. This will keep you from being in super close contact with anyone while in the office.
Add a sneeze guard.
If you have a front desk or receptionist area where clients can check in, consider installing a sneeze guard or plexiglass screen at the front of it. This ensures your team members and clients aren’t put at risk when entering or leaving the building.
The Final Word
With shelter-in-place orders lifting, real estate brokerages across the country are starting to reopen their doors. If you aim to be one of them, just take the proper precautions. You, your colleagues, and your clients’ health depends on it.