More than two years after the American workforce transitioned to remote work due to the onset of COVID-19, office buildings are seeing new life as business owners prepare to bring staff back into the office.
Office buildings that were shut down abruptly can be at risk for property damage such as vandalism, theft, water damage, and more if not properly monitored or maintained during a prolonged vacancy. Oftentimes, subtle damage to an empty building can go unseen and, if left unaddressed, can result in serious physical and financial issues.
Before returning to the office, Adjusters International/Basloe, Levin & Cuccaro (AI/BLC) recommends business owners take three simple but important steps to prepare their commercial property for a safe return.
Here are the three steps business owners should take before returning to the office:
1. Conduct a thorough walkthrough.
Business owners should conduct a thorough walk-through as if the building was just purchased or leased. While inspecting the building, look out for any vandalism or damage, such as broken windows, that may have occurred while the building was vacant. Investigate all components and features of the building to make certain everything is in proper working condition. Not only will this allow the building to get up and running smoothly without any hiccups, but it will also ensure the building is safe for staff to reenter.
2. Call in the professionals.
Don’t assume the building is in the same working order as it was before it closed. After an in-depth inspection of the building is complete, consider hiring professionals to conduct a routine checkup on equipment. This can include electricians, plumbers, pest control, or a security company. Professionals can provide a thorough assessment and notify you of any required maintenance or issues that need to be addressed to prevent further property damage.
3. Check your HVAC system.
It’s a common scenario that building owners to suspend HVAC systems when the building is not in use. When an HVAC system is suspended, the building becomes susceptible to damage caused by extreme heat or extreme cold. When returning to the office after a prolonged break, make sure to examine the system itself to see if it needs to be updated or serviced along with interior and exterior features that can be affected by extreme temperatures.
A cautionary tale
Adjusters International/Basloe, Levin & Cuccaro (AI/BLC) recently dealt with the case of a school district that had sustained severe damage as the result of an unmonitored building. After a large sump pump was unknowingly disengaged by a construction crew working onsite, the school’s boiler room began filling with water.
While the vacant boiler room was filled with boiling water, multiple alarms were set off to alert security personnel. Unfortunately, prior to that, the school district had reduced security personnel, so there was no one there at the time to hear the alarm and address the situation.
As time went by, the water consumed the electrical panel, resulting in extensive damage. The school district engaged the help of AI/BLC public adjusters to help prepare and file a commercial insurance property damage claim. Luckily, our expert public adjusters helped the school navigate the complex insurance claim process, allowing it to successfully recover.
Resuming work in an office can be an exciting endeavor. However, it is important that business owners plan and prioritize a safe and secure return to the office for their staff. In the event your office building sustains damage, notify your insurance company to begin the property damage claim process as quickly as possible.
Have you suffered commercial property damage? Contact a licensed public adjuster today.
At Adjusters International/Basloe, Levin & Cuccaro, we help business owners ensure their settlement is optimized under their commercial insurance policy. We advocate for the policyholder – not the insurance carrier – and handle the entire claims process on your behalf so you focus on the safety and wellbeing of your employees. Contact us today to get started.