Reopening Day Is Almost Here. Are You Ready?

How to exceed the high health and safety expectations of your occupants as they return to your buildings.

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By Tony Piucci, SVP of Enterprise Sales Solutions, ABM

With vaccination rates rising in the United States, cities opening up, and the stock market and economy showing signs of recovery, the long-awaited return to offices is moving closer to a reality. Here are factors to keep in mind as you prepare your buildings and teams to welcome more people back to your buildings.

Summer And Fall For Expected Return

health and safetyCommercial real estate and corporate clients around the country are telling us that they will continue to focus on summer and fall to start bringing more people back to offices. These dates reflect trend surveys, although some leading tech companies, including Google, Microsoft and Uber recently announced that they are accelerating partial reopening to the early spring. Across the board, companies are monitoring infection and vaccination rates and are surveying employee confidence before setting firm dates.

Hybrid Work

Most organizations expect to bring people back in phases and use hybrid models with people splitting time between remote and in-office work. A higher percentage of staff are forecast to work permanently from home. The 2021 Microsoft Work Trend Index outlines employees’ strong preference for flexible work options to reduce commute times, spend more time with families and work and remain highly productive from any location.

Day One Safety

In ABM studies and in speaking with clients, it is clear that people will be returning to work with a high sense of personal caution. They will be looking for cues that their workplace is taking visible and consistent measures to create a safe environment.

health and safetyThis includes:

  • Mask policies
  • Social distancing
  • Temperature scanning
  • Hand sanitizing stations
  • Frequent cleaning and disinfection
  • Fully staffed cleaning teams seen throughout the day

Phased approaches will help control the number of people in the office. This will ensure that building and office protocols are stable, and create employee confidence that the workplace is safe. Because people will be returning in phases, this process of ensuring day one safety will repeat throughout the year.

Planning For Unknown Unknowns

Nothing about the pandemic has been predictable. Even threats of a fourth wave of infection are currently impacting reopening plans around the country. However, as offices open up and children return to schools, the coronavirus will remain active in the population. Variances in both vaccination rates and corporate policies mandating vaccinations means that risk of viral spread will remain.

There will be no way to definitively know when a person has unknowingly spread COVID-19 in your building. By taking both preventative and cleaning measures you can help control viral spread and maintain occupant confidence by making disinfection and cleaning of high-touch areas a part of daily cleaning. If your building has an outbreak, it is critical to have teams ready to respond and follow the CDC guideline that recommends disinfection of “indoor community settings where there has been a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 24 hours.”

Assessing And Mitigating Risk

health and safetyNo two facilities are alike, so no two approaches to building wellness can be alike. ABM has developed fact-based site audits for high-touch surfaces and a Healthy Building Risk Assessment for indoor air quality. Clients are using these tools to establish benchmarks and priorities for cleaning and disinfection along with needed improvements to HVAC systems to help manage viral spread and ensure overall building wellness.

The New Era Of Total Building Health

As people return to their offices and normal lives, they are also entering into a new era of what is expected in building health. Safer spaces now mean safer people. Building health is now something that needs to be approached both strategically and holistically. The goal is to create a healthy environment that includes everything from public spaces to high-touch surfaces, cleaning protocols, air quality, filtration and ventilation. These are health and safety measures that employees and tenants see as vital for today’s pandemic and beyond.

Want to read more about how ABM can help get people back to work? Click here.


  1. I’m glad you talked about the importance of following safety regulations for getting back to a workplace. In my opinion, we need to take health risks seriously and do everything in our power to stop disease spread. If I were to run a business, I’d look for prevention equipment to protect my employees from the viral spread. Thanks for the information on how companies need to get ready to get back from working from home.

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