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5.15.2020

COVID-19: Today and Tomorrow (Part 2)

Asking and answering what now? and what’s next? as commercial real estate professionals work to overcome the challenges of today and prepare for the changes of tomorrow. 

This is the second of two blog posts exploring the near-term and long-term impact of the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the commercial real estate landscape. We’ll review some of the ways that commercial real estate professionals can start preparing now for a post-COVID future. The previous post covered strategies and tactics for staying afloat, and working with tenants and vendors to make it through the turbulence and tumult of today’s near-term challenges. Today, we set our sights a little further down the road.

In other words: if part one answered the question what now?, this post starts to explore what’s next?

Explore new opportunities

The commercial real estate landscape has changed—and many of those changes will be long-lasting as the effects of COVID take hold of the business mindset. Commercial real estate professionals should consider utilizing the resources they’ve relied on in the past to generate business, and the established expertise that made them successful in this space in the first place to add value for new clients and in new ways.

Start planning

No one knows with any certainty what will happen in the weeks and months ahead. Some states will reopen before others, and there are a wide range of possibilities as to what that could look like. While there are no sure things, there are some near-certainties that you can and should start planning for today. One is that commercial real estate spaces will need to make operational changes and takes steps to protect the health and safety of their people and customers/guests/ invitees. Even in the absence of specific regulatory guidelines, commercial real estate operators should start thinking critically about how to modify signage and wayfinding, circulation through properties and details about entrances and exits processes. Establish clear and consistent standards about what cleanliness, security, and health and safety modifications are the landlord’s responsibility and what tenants should be responsible for. Recognize that restructuring spaces may be required. Large communal spaces may be sacrificed to allow more room for employees and visitors to spread out and social distance.

Don’t guess: plan

Preparation and planning is important. With so many unknowns, making overly detailed long-range plans may be ill-advised. The long-term picture is still unclear and it might make sense to look at changes through the lens of a 90-120-day window. To be clear: there are important questions that commercial real estate professionals can and should be asking, and operational changes they can be considering and preparing for. But anything beyond that is guesswork.

Keep it together

Emergency circumstances can prompt us to look out for ourselves and instinctively move to protect our own interests, but they can also bring people together. That community impulse should be nurtured and fully embraced, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it’s the smart thing to do. Ultimately, we are all in this together.  Landlords, tenants and vendors are all facing similarly challenging circumstances, and can all benefit from working together to overcome them. Those commercial real estate professionals who embrace compromise, and stay supportive and engaged with tenants and vendors, will find that they not only handle the crisis better in the near term, but will also be poised for success in the brave new post-COVID world to come.