Case Study: Commercial Property Management Response to COVID-19 Image

Case Study: Commercial Property Management Response to COVID-19


The following is a case study on response to a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a commercial building. It is based on an actual event from March 2020, as described by Jon Douglas, Menkes Property Management during a video discussion with BOMA Canada. RECA encourages commercial property managers to review the details and use the information as guidance for creating their own COVID-19 case response protocol.

Before the confirmed case

In January/February, Menkes:

  • implemented additional cleaning for high-touch points
  • placed hand-sanitizer dispensers in lobbies and common spaces
  • launched hand washing campaign using posters and social media posts and elevator screens
  • issued a tenant notice outlining these measures and shared information made available by Toronto Public Health

Mar 5th: more planning

Property leaders came together for an emergency call to discuss COVID-19 and actions that needed to be taken. They:

  • planned communications in the event of a confirmed case
    • templates/drafts were created for 10 communications
    • created an internal response protocol
  • contacted external providers for disinfecting spaces
  • staff were asked to log all floors they were present on

March 17th: confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported

At 8:35pm a tenant notified Menkes that there was a confirmed case of COVID-19 within their employee pool and that the individual had been at work. The response protocol was implemented:

  • the menkes General manager was notified and immediately implemented the COVID-19 protocol
  • Public Health was already aware of the case and did not need to be contacted by Menkes
  • a housekeeping specialty team was mobilized to disinfect common spaces, floors, elevator cabs, and parking elevators (in addition to the day-to-day cleaning that was occurring)
  • the general manager participated in a conference call with the tenant (employer with confirmed case) to review the Menkes protocols and learn steps the tenant was taking
    • the tenant confirmed all employees were working from home until further instructed
  • Menkes leadership:
    • connected via conference call to bring everyone up to speed
    • sent out notice to all staff on site: security, parking
    • sent out a building-wide tenant notice regarding the confirmed case and notifying tenants that Menkes was implementing their draft protocol
    • drafted a script for responding to tenant calls. The script indicated they could not confirm information about the tenant or the employee affected. They could only communicate when that employee was last in the building

March 18 @ 3am: response protocol was running

The disinfecting of all floors was completed and a notice of this was sent to all tenants. Menkes:

  • connected with Toronto Public Health to review Menkes procedures, protocols and information
  • sent out tenant communications confirming
    • contractors would continue disinfecting high-touch points
    • there was low risk to other tenants in the building
    • they were following Public Health direction
    • they could not release any information about the tenant or individual with the confirmed case
    • to reduce risk to operations staff, they would not be responding to non-urgent work orders while occupants were in the building—things like changing lights would happen over night (operations staff adjusted schedules)

March 18th 11am: media inquiries

Menkes released a statement with what information they could share. One Toronto media outlet released false information stating the building had been sealed and quarantined, which started an all-out panic where building tenants, other media outlets and tenants/managers of neighbouring buildings began calling for information. Menkes:

  • staff were instructed to take down information of the caller but not answer any questions
  • released a tenant notice about the media situation and the false information
  • released corrected information, forcing the media outlet was forced to post a correction
  • confirmed with tenants that the building was open and safe
  • sent notice to contractors and vendors confirming the building was safe for people to come into for work

March 19: response review and follow up

  • management had a conference call to review protocol and discuss lessons learned, and update protocol for future cases based on experience
  • staff reached out to tenants to discuss protocols for when happens to them (because it’s more a case of when, not if)