The reopening of commercial spaces and the return to the office after the relaxation of the restrictions imposed in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic involves a considerable administrative effort for companies, in order to meet the criteria and implement the measures that will offer the green light to resume business. Each company needs to prepare its own set of measures and implement them rigorously, in order to avoid undesirable consequences and risks, based on a plan adapted to its own specificity, so as to reach the “fit-for purpose“ standard, depending on the characteristics of the space and the nature of the activity carried out in the location.
Given the diversity of issues, from epidemiological and health and work safety, to topics related to authorization, approval and management’s liability, Reff & Associates | Deloitte Legal Romania and its partner in this project, Waltmann A.B., Architecture and Consulting Design Office, launch an integrated solution for assessing office buildings and shopping centers and for preparing a coherent program of measures and actions, verified from a technical, medical and legal perspective, in order to guarantee a safe return of employees and customers inside the premises.
“As the economy relaunches, the competition is intensifying in an effort to recover for losses caused by the restrictions imposed in the context of the pandemic. Organizations need to reactivate and rethink the way they approach human resources, paramount to any business, to regain the trust of employees and customers, by ensuring an environment in which they feel safe and productive, with no concession regarding their health or compliance with the legal requirements. This is the context in which we developed this project, in association with Waltmann A.B., but also with internationally renowned physicians and experts in other fields, in order to offer to our clients a concept of one-stop shop (or 360 degrees), an integrated solution which provides them with the certainty that they have taken the best decisions and implemented the most efficient measures in order to resume the activity,“ said Irina Dimitriu, Partner, Reff & Associates | Deloitte Legal Romania.
The solution is provided by a multi-disciplinary task force, consisting of physicians, lawyers, architects, consultants, engineers, fire safety experts, as well as safety specialists in property management and operation.
“During this period of time, on the one hand, all companies are looking to implement as fast as possible measures that give the confidence to their employees that they can return safely to the office, and, on the other hand, to provide comfort to the business environment that there were no gaps, deficiencies or unfortunate decisions in the preparation of the resumption plan. In the absence of exhaustive legal rules and requirements, companies take the measures they consider as being appropriate, but their decision is not based on specialists’ opinion regarding the need, effectiveness, legality or risks involved. This is where we intervene, by providing them access to a team of approximately 15 specialists, from all relevant fields, to guide them in this process. Basically, the solution we offer has helps in two major areas – firstly, to regain the trust of employees and customers and, secondly, the comfort of these companies’ management that the applied measures are effective, necessary, sufficient and do not conflict with the rules and the pre-existing legal provisions related to the COVID-19 epidemic, which can trigger possible civil or criminal liability,” said Alexandru Stanescu-Baccela, Partner & Head of Design Waltmann.
The proposed solution is implemented in two stages. The first one consists of documenting and physically assessing, on the premises, the office buildings’ or shopping centers’ spaces regarding each type of risk and determining the degree of exposure to them. The existing situation of the spaces is filtered and analyzed by the multidisciplinary team, so that, in the end, the client can choose the most appropriate proposed measures to mitigate the highlighted risks. In the second stage, after implementation of the established measures, a new evaluation is performed and the final classification is established, based on which the client can demonstrate its compliance with the measures and the necessary criteria for returning to work or resuming business, at the office or in shopping centers.