How to Design Software for COVID-19 Compliance in CRE

COVID-19 has added a tall stack of new risk management tasks to the property manager’s plate. Beyond managing capital improvements, contract administration, sourcing, expenditures and ongoing services, managers must adjust to the new challenge of mitigating the risk of COVID-19 spreading to tenants, occupants and visitors on the property.

 

As companies return to work, there is a ton of confusion about how to handle the new interface around COVID-19. Over the past two months, the Jones customer development team interviewed clients about the toughest challenges they face – we wanted to  investigate potential pain points around risk and liability due to COVID-19. 

After many interviews, one thing was clear as water —  transparent, concrete and ongoing communication around COVID-19 is a major hurdle in operating commercial real estate today. 

What is communication all about?

Property managers are focused on making sure that tenants and their employees are able to re-enter and work on properties in a safe environment given the very real risk that anyone entering the premises could be carrying Coronavirus. One glaring gap we discovered is that vendors pose a potential risk to COVID-19, and there is rarely one source of vendor communications. Typically, this workflow is spread across multiple touch points – facility managers, office managers, security staff, and property managers.

With that said, property managers are now tasked with daily communications regarding regulations, instructions, provision of equipment such as face masks and gloves, elevator occupancy limits, temperature screenings, social distancing, and much more. 

“How do we dynamically communicate actionable messages with various stakeholders – tenants, vendors, and subcontractors?”—  User 1

 

“The biggest problem is communicating to our vendors about the variable and constantly changing instructions in our buildings.” —  User 2

Property managers need a new way to enable vendors to enter and re-enter properties, elevators, and loading docks in a safe way manages the spread of COVID-19. Communication is the first key step.

Why use Jones to solve this problem?

By way of a recap, our core software solution helps property managers and their security teams to easily manage liability with vendors and tenants’ when it comes to insurance exposure. An automated process enables users to solve insurance certificates end-to-end – requesting certificates, auditing against requirements, and providing user-friendly reports.

Once insurance is approved, vendors and tenants can easily transact on the property.

Today, in addition to insurance compliance, property managers and security teams can actively manage the entry of vendors and tenants to enter the building with the assurance the COVID-19 is part of the compliance process. Jones offers a simple solution for sending vendors and tenants the building instructions, requesting they fill out a health questionnaire, and providing real-time visibility to their status. 

Naturally, we implemented a solution to the communication issue using a similar flow to that which users are already familiar with:

How does it work?

Users can simply click on the “Manage Requirement” button, where they have compliance requirements already stored, and create new COVID-19 requirements for the property.

They can introduce customized building guidelines, request liability waivers and select among a ready-made library of screening questions.

By simply sending a COVID-19 form to read and sign, users are able to add an indication to the same compliance status the property manager and the security desk in the lobby are looking for. 

They can track who received the form and what their answers were in a process similar to insurance certificate tracking!

Given that COVID-19 guidelines can change by the day, users can always change the form on the fly, adjust health questions, and re-send the form to their vendors. 

“There are a lot of moving pieces with state guidance and things are changing fast. “ —  User 3

We hope this product will continue to make compliance easy for our customers. Hopefully, we’ve done our job of understanding the problem space.

For aspiring product managers out there, I encourage you to always put a finger to the pulse of the market change and the opportunities it brings. 


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