Opening and Operating During COVID and What Lies Ahead

Bring People Back 850 x 500

Be Confident About Your Team’s Safety

EBE Website Logo No Quote Horizontal-1Laura Steinbrink, MBA LEED-AP
Contributor, Emerald Built Environments

As the year has rolled on, we have continued to develop our understanding of the impacts and threats of COVID-19.

While we were once sheltering in place and wiping off every package from the grocery store with bleach wipes, we've largely adapted as new knowledge has been gained. Now, even though many have been vaccinated, new strains of the virus erupt around the globe, borders remain closed to US citizens, and concerns about safety remain.

Whether you own or lease your space, reopening and operating at the workplace requires new policies and procedures. It can be extremely helpful to have a proven system to guide decisions and to prove to your employees and visitors that you have policies and procedures that will protect them. WELL has provided us a tool for exactly this.

WELL Health-Safety Rating for Facility Operations and Management

The WELL Health-Safety Rating for Facility Operations and Management is an evidence-based, third-party verified rating for all new and existing building and facility types focusing on operational policies, maintenance protocols, stakeholder engagement, and emergency plans.

Designed to empower owners and operators across large and small businesses alike to take the necessary steps in order to prioritize the health and safety of their staff, visitors and other stakeholders, the WELL Health-Safety Rating can help guide users in preparing their spaces for re-entry in a post-COVID-19 environment, instilling confidence in occupants and the broader community.

The rating, which consists of a subset of relevant features from the WELL Building Standard™ (WELL™) adapted for facility operations and management, was informed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but has broader applicability for supporting the long-term health and safety needs of people in a given space (WELL).

This Rating was released last year by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI). They gathered a group of nearly 600 public health experts, virologists, government officials, academics, business leaders, architects, designers, building scientists and real estate professionals with the goal of developing a guidance and standard that the world could use to help prevent the spread of COVID. This team of experts recognized that safety within buildings, when we spend 90% of our time indoors, would be one of the most crucial aspects of controlling the disease and protecting the people.

Rating Factors

The WELL Health-Safety Rating is a subset of the WELL Building Standard, focused specifically on facilities operations and management during a public health crisis and will continue to be adapted as new information is gained as it is fundamentally an evidence-based rating system. The rating system includes 21 features across the following core areas, a minimum of 15 which need to be met:

  • Cleaning and Sanitization Procedures
  • Emergency Preparedness Programs
  • Health Service Resources
  • Air and Water Quality Management
  • Stakeholder Engagement and Communication

Bring People Back Safely

If you are already open or preparing to bring your employees back and want to feel confident you're doing everything you can to provide a safe and healthy environment, consider how WELL Health-Safety can guide you.

Join us for a live discussion and our free webinar, Bring People Back Safely: Opening and Operating During COVID, on August 4 from 9 to 9:45 a.m.

Bandwidth Battles: Streaming Content Takes a Hit

As the mid-afternoon lull sets in, you decide to check in with a few folks. When you poke your head in and say hello, you get no response. With their headphones in and Pandora buried beneath a cascade of windows on their desktop, you can see that this employee is clearly focused on the task at hand. You move on to the next cube over- headphones again. Oh well, you can stop by again tomorrow, besides there’s a new Pandora station you’ve been meaning to try.

But what if Pandora wasn’t an option anymore? What about YouTube,, or any other site containing streaming audio or video? Employees all across the country are finding out as more and more employers are unable to keep up these bandwidth hogs.

CNN cited Proctor & Gamble as yet another prominent example of an organization forced to make the decision to block certain sites with streaming content. For P&G employees, Pandora and Netflix are now a thing of the past, but interestingly, both YouTube and Facebook remain accessible.

Their decision to block some but not all streaming content sites reflects yet another challenge that organizations are facing related to streaming content. Even as they ban some sites, organizations must balance their need to preserve network bandwidth, while still retaining access to sites that employees utilize for job related activities, such as marketing or professional networking.

So where does your workplace fall on this continuum from total restriction to total access of streaming content? Has the ongoing struggle for sufficient bandwidth forced your organization to block streaming content? Is bandwidth capacity the issue or is the ban more closely related to questions about employee productivity or other factors?

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