It might be too early to know exactly when the COVID-19 pandemic will officially be declared over, but as more and more jurisdictions around the world reopen, it isn’t a stretch to presume that the end is near. As such, more and more workers will be returning to their offices, some of which have already undergone retrofits to occlude the spread of contagions.
Dream REIT is upgrading all of its buildings to WELL standards, which are considered premier for indoor air quality and employee wellness across North American workplaces. The REIT has already upgraded 4.6 million of its 5.5 million sq ft portfolio spread across 25 buildings.
One of WELL’s features is sophisticated UV light technology that’s installed throughout properties, including in elevators and escalators, and which kills 99.9% of viral particles. MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) 13 is another key technology installed throughout all air-handling units in Dream properties, and it will help exhaust contaminated air while introducing higher filtered air, and more often.
According to Dream’s COO Gord Wadley, the REIT spent the last 18 months diligently undertaking the upgrades in preparation for its buildings’ eventual reopenings, having also spent a lot of time “overcommunicating” to its tenants that they need not worry about the spread of contagions.
“We’ve adopted several industry-leading practices during this pandemic and we’re well-positioned to welcome our clients back. Sometimes when you do these programs, the communication is equally as important and everyone has a different risk tolerance, so it’s really important that the landlord is packaging this information and providing it in a comprehensive way that our clients can show to their customers, their guests, that they’ve aligned themselves and partnered with a really safe work environment,” he said.
According to a survey conducted by Harris on behalf of HR software firm Ceridian, 83% of respondents want to return to their offices at some point, with another 52% reporting feelings of isolation working from home. Thirty-six percent of survey respondents said that remote work has negatively affected their career growth, and an equal number of respondents said it’s impaired their mental health.
Wadley says that it’s a near certainty companies will return their employees to offices, and it’s for that reason Dream got a head start on its WELL upgrades.
“We’ve really seen it on all the tours of our buildings,” he said. “Some tenants are starting to incorporate their HR teams and facility managers in the decisions. We’ve seen a huge push from HR leaders on behalf of our clients to get information on how we’ve upgraded our buildings. The feedback we’ve received has been positive.”