From New Tech to Rearranging the Furniture, DC Landlords Plot Reopenings 


Now that Washington, D.C. has entered phase one of the District’s reopening plan, office landlords from Monday Properties to JBG Smith (JBGS) are drafting plans on how to implement a safe reopening for tenants, employees and visitors.

At Monday Properties, the firm is partnering with security firm Kastle Systems to launch KastleSafeSpaces, a new tech-enabled, building-wide system to help monitor worker health and safety. The technology will be installed in the firm’s 1812 North Moore Street in Arlington, Va., home of Nestle’s U.S. Headquarters.

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“The comprehensive system enables office buildings to play a significant role in virus screening by activating touchless access points, promoting social distancing practices and contact tracing,” Jennifer Burns, Monday Properties’ senior vice president of property management and operations, told Commercial Observer. 

The program utilizes data and technology-led reminders to supplement physical guides to reinforce social distancing. Access control data can help to “flatten the arrival curve” and to monitor and manage real-time space occupancy to ensure safe distance for employees, vendors, and visitors, while also informing policies to limit visitors. 

The program “is providing a way for us to leverage the existing infrastructure we already have in our building, while incorporating new technology and upgrades that will better safeguard our tenants’ health and safety as they return to the office,” Burns said.

According to Kastle, new installations, like safeguard stations and checkpoints, will maintain the recommended social distancing guidance and new floor markings will not only indicate the flow of traffic but reinforce how far employees, vendors and visitors should stand away from each other for maximum health and safety.

Additionally, real-time data exception reporting will provide notifications for issues such as floor-level occupancy, suggesting the need for greater social distancing if the number of people in a space is too high.

“We’re focused on providing our tenants with the tools they need to ensure they come back to an office space that allows them to be productive and comfortable,” Burns said. 

Other changes include new entry signage, directional signage, elevator capacity limits, hand sanitizing stations and increased cleaning, she said.  

At JBG SMITH, the firm has issued a blueprint that offers detailed instruction for maintaining healthy and safe work environments and provides a framework to guide its commercial tenants’ return to the office.

“We have implemented a number of new measures to ensure our tenants and visitors feel safe and secure from the moment they step foot into our buildings,” David Ritchey, JBG SMITH’s executive vice president told CO. “These enhanced features include informational signage, wayfinding, travel paths and social distancing protocol, as well as other health and safety upgrades in our lobbies.” 

Each plan is customized to the building’s unique features and configurations, and the company is currently in the process of implementing these adjustments. Many are already in effect and other more physical and structural changes are being rolled out as quickly as possible.

“As businesses reopen, social distancing will be critical to maintaining a healthy work environment, and that belief served as a guiding force,” Ritchey said. “It is especially important in building common areas, where we are incorporating strategically placed signage, new circulation patterns and reduced elevator capacity. Additionally, we have limited the furniture in our common areas and will utilize modified seating arrangements when amenity areas reopen.”

Guided by information collected from federal, state, and local health authorities, the blueprint walks tenants through all changes of protocol made to operational protocols across the company’s commercial portfolio. The document is specifically focused on health and safety measures related to cleaning and sanitation, indoor air quality, social distancing, and tenant communications. 

“The unprecedented nature of this crisis means that we must remain agile and proactive in our approach,” Ritchey said. “Operating our buildings to the highest possible standards is more important than ever.”