Reopening Your Family Office

Date: Jul 08 2020

Peter Leo, Director, Human Capital, Family Office Exchange

In our May 26th FOX Virtual Member Exchange, we discussed the factors to consider when planning to open your Family Office. The below steps are critical to consider in addition to monitoring state and local regulations. In addition to working with your building management team, there are also guidelines that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as well as OSHA have in place. 

Factors to take into consideration when you can reopen include state and local guidelines as well as OSHA. If you do not own your building, you will also want to consult with your building management company. Other questions to ask include can your business continue to operate with employees working remotely and can you afford to delay the reopening – there is no right or wrong answer but you have to consider how your business will continue to run during this interim period.

As a next step, you will want to consider if this should be a phased return. Most likely, based on social distancing, including office square space and different employees having different circumstances, this will require thought and planning. Also, consider the questions, has the shelter in place and work from home realized additional productivity and are there employees who may benefit from being in the office more than others? In addition:

  • evaluate your staffing needs and who may need to be in the office versus being remote, 
  • have you inquired with your team as to who is ready to return – this may be an opportunity to survey your team. 
  • for those employees who take public transportation, should they be considered for a later return,
  • for those employees who have school aged children at home, should they be considered for a later return,
  • for those employees who have health ailments and more susceptible to COVID is another consideration as to who may need to return later.
  • you should also keep in mind that not all employees may be physically impacted by COVID – ensure your plan is safe and will not create any additional stress

When you start to think about considerations for implementing a return, items that should be top of mind include:

  • prepare a robust and ongoing communications plan that will include anything from how decisions are being made, processes and procedures as well as FAQs
  • consider forming a committee of employees that can provide input as to what may be concerns of the employees
  • create procedures for all topics – anything from social distancing, to when an employee may feel like they have any symptoms of COVID or is ultimately diagnosed with COVID to floor/wall signage as well as temperature screening
  • If temperature screening is performed, set expectations as to what will occur and also consider asking the employee if they have any symptoms of COVID such as a cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever of 100.4 degrees or above, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat or new loss of taste or smell. If they exhibit any signs of these symptoms, they should not be allowed into the office
  • develop a list of Personal Protective Equipment (“PPE”) that can be purchased to minimize the risk of employees – this may include anything face masks, hand sanitizer and wipes, disposable gloves, plastic shields in the office space for those who may have frequent contact or closer than others

Getting your facilities ready is another important consideration. Considering your office has been vacant for months, you will want to:

  • test your computer systems
  • ensure all areas are deep cleaned, with a focus on high touch surfaces and office areas of each employee
  • ensure HVAC/water systems have been thoroughly cleaned
  • in accordance with CDC guidance, ensure outside air introduction is maximized not affecting occupant comfort

Managing customer and vendor expectations is also critical. You should consider communications to your customers and vendors as to any expectations you may have including when and how they will be able to gain access to your work site. Some items to consider include:

  • be transparent and set expectations up front
  • when your customers/vendors arrive, you will want to ensure they know what to expect
  • consider setting up restrictions as to what areas they can access

There are many factors to consider when planning for reopening and there is no cookie cutter format to follow but taking these steps into consideration will help you through a thoughtful planning process that requires asking questions, gaining input and providing ongoing communication with any changes due to state or local regulations or changes in business.