Contact tracing has been a hot topic lately -- and for good reason. In the wake of an ever-worsening pandemic, contact tracing is one of the few protections we have.
With it, we can track down an infected person’s most recent physical contacts, alert them, and quite possibly, slow the further spread of the coronavirus.
States are currently clamoring to hire contact tracers and up their efforts in identifying possibly infected persons. But they’re not the only ones who can help.
Commercial property owners can also slow the spread by implementing on-site contact tracing efforts that ID infected tenants and employees in their buildings. The question is: Should they? Let’s look at the big picture.
Contact tracing in CRE
Monday Properties, a D.C.-based developer and investment firm, has already jumped on the bandwagon, partnering with KastleSafeSpaces in June to kickstart contact tracing and social distancing initiatives on its Arlington, Virginia, property (currently home to Nestle headquarters). Knotel -- which offers flexible co-working spaces -- has enabled contact tracing on its app, too.
There are countless other instances of contact tracing in CRE, but the practice is far from industry-wide so far.
Still, that doesn’t mean commercial property owners shouldn’t think about it. If you’re on the fence about contact tracing in your building, consider these factors:
- Setup and costs. Most contact tracing efforts are app-based, so if your building already runs via mobile app or some sort of smart technology (like Knotel’s), then launching your contact tracing efforts is probably easier than you think.
- Your business health. Contact tracing can obviously benefit the health of those who work in and use your buildings. But on top of that, it can also improve your business health, too. Ultimately, a healthier environment means fewer employees out sick, more sales/profits, and fewer missed rent payments and vacancies. Those are all wins -- especially during this challenging economic time.
- Data privacy. If you do start contact tracing, you’ll have to be careful about what data you collect, where it’s stored, and how you use it. We’re in a time where data privacy is top of mind for most people, and you can bet many of your tenants and employees won’t take kindly to being tracked or monitored.
If you’re considering contact tracing in your buildings, take a minute to learn about your options. There are a number of mobile apps you can ask your tenants and employees to install (PwC has one, for example), or you might consider partnering with a security company that offers tracing help, like Kastle, for example.
The bottom line
As a commercial property owner, your business relies on the health of your tenants, employees, and patrons. So whether you opt to implement contact tracing or not, you’ll want to have some safeguards in place to prevent the spread of the virus. These could include things like air purifiers, electrostatic sprayers, required temperature checks, sneeze guards in shared spaces, and more. You should also have a process for informing tenants of positive COVID-19 cases in the building.