The Definitive COVID-19 Playbook for Property Managers

by Nyla Sheikh

Let's face it, we are at a crossroads in our industry yet again. The best advice I can give any property manager is to think about how we ensure tenants reoccupy the safest environment possible. The HVAC and back of the house has always been assigned to the engineers in the past but, in the wake of touchless access controls we must now look to property managers to take the reins in that department.

As many businesses continue to adopt a work from home model for the foreseeable future, for others its far from reality. Whether for productivity, creativity or necessity some business must return to the office and this is where we must provide a safe environment so they can reoccupy space. The fact is that COVID-19 spreads in enclosed spaces with long term exposure and poor air circulation. That’s why as a business we need to pay attention to all the technology and changes that are anticipated as employees return to work.

At Vibe, we are focusing our efforts to make our buildings have the cleanest air circulation possible. This is more than just a few hand sanitizing stations, stickers on the floor and touchless entries; where you can really make an impact is what your tenants don’t see. When we speak about an airborne infectious disease, such as COVID-19, indoor air quality should be at the upmost concern for building owners and managers.

Here are some steps to take that could provide a big benefit to your tenants:

Improve Distributions: Zoning is important when we are speaking airborne pathogens. This may not be the most cost-effective change to make to your HVAC system but examining the airflow between zones is essential to protect offices from one another. Have your engineer reevaluate dampers and supply positioning to keep cross zoning airflow to a minimum.

Increase Filtration: This one may seem obvious but should never be overlooked. All inspections scheduled for filters should be doubled and done with extra care. Use the highest possible settings for the airflow filtration in all your buildings’ restrooms. Tenants can also be provided room portable air cleaners with HEPA filters are 99% effective for any high traffic rooms, such as a reception area at a doctor’s office.

Improve Airflow: Improving ventilation by increasing outside air will dramatically decrease any dangerous pathogens floating around. This should be done especially in restrooms, isolated rooms or high traffic rooms. If you don’t have it in the budget to retrofit your system to monitor outside air intake simply set units to increase outside air to 100% two hours before and after the building is occupied will also help tremendously.

UV Lights: Lights are not only for the hallways; they can help keep people safe when installed at water coils. The ultraviolet (UV) spectrum can kill microorganisms. Consider getting a quote to install a UV light system on your rooftop unit for both the return and supply side.

Humidity: Relative Humidity should stay between 40%-60% inside your buildings. This level is highly unfavorable to microorganisms

Why it matters

The effects of this pandemic will be seen for years to come, even after the last case is closed the fear will remain. We must combat the fear with proven processes and procedures that will mitigate the hesitation. We always want all our tenants to feel safe and secure inside our buildings.

Our tenants pay us for more than a room to hold their desks and computers. They’re paying us for a space where their employees spend a large chunk of their lives. We must do whatever it takes to make that part enjoyable, productive, functional – and safe. 


Nyla Sheikh

Vice President of Asset Management
Nyla Sheikh heads Vibe’s asset management for Los Angeles, Utah, Colorado, Texas, Washington, and Ohio markets. In her capacity, she directs the region’s overall strategy overseeing the operations, leasing and construction of more than 15 properties in the Vibe® portfolio, she continues to challenge the status quo with her ideas, energy, passion and enthusiasm – creating a “vibe” all her own. Born in Orange Country, Nyla spent more than a decade in the Middle East before heading back state-side and graduating with her MBA from Strayer University in Washington DC. If Nyla isn’t on a plane, visiting properties, reviewing plans and keeping a watchful eye on operations, you’ll find her near the water, spending family time with her wife and two young sons.

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