In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the effects of mass quarantines around the world has created a great deal of uncertainty. The decision by many of the World’s largest Companies to permanently work from home, has left Landlords holding their breath as they wait to see what the market does.
There is a discussion thread on the AIA Practice Management Forum which started with the question, “How is your firm ensuring efficiency in a remote working environment?”
There have been a number of replies which I would characterize as mixed.
The comments range, from expressions of gratitude for the time regained from no longer needing to endure a commute, to complaints about having to adapt to working in pdf. Keep in mind these are Architects accustomed to reviewing large scale full size sheets. Reviewing drawings on a computer screen (in pdf) is very different from being able to make comments and corrections directly onto a drawing.
Regardless of whether you relish working from home or dread it, working from home is here to stay. The sooner people internalize this, the sooner they will be able to adapt. Only then will they achieve similar or perhaps even greater levels of efficiency as compared to working from an office.
In an article posted on Lexology by the law firm of Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani, Brenda Radmacher a partner and construction law expert writes about the new jobsite safety measures that Companies will have to observe in light of COVID-19.
Radmacher does a great job of identifying the new norms, both on and off the jobsite, Workers will need to observe in order to avoid spreading the disease.
Some of these new norms are common widespread recommendations such as washing hands and observing social distancing, but some are very specific to construction and some are likely to impact costs and schedules.
I recommend reading Radmacher’s article, but I wanted to address a few specific recommendations.
A couple of weeks ago, I published an article discussing some of the additional costs Owners might see in the wake of the global CoronaVirus outbreak and government ordered quarantine.
In that article, I made the statement, “Contractually, this event falls under the Force Majeure clause…”
While I still believe that the COVID-19 epidemic meets the definition and the intention of a Force Majeure clause, I recently read several articles that further refine my understanding of Force Majeure and how it can be applied.
As with any article where I address legal terms, such as Force Majeure, I defer 100% to professional legal advice and recommend you contact an attorney to discuss your specific circumstances before you take any action.
That advice notwithstanding, I did want to share with you some interesting points of view.
Ever since the CoronaVirus landed on the United States it’s impact has been uncertain. Having witnessed the impact it had in China, we collectively braced for impact, but I don’t think anyone thought it would have the effect that it has.
Two week’s ago, I reported that New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania had been placed under lock-down by the Governor’s of each state. Since then several states have followed suit.
According to Business Insider.com 36 states plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico are under stay-at-home orders.
A federal directive has yet to be issued as the number of infected persons in the US reaches over 300,000 cases.
Each of the 36 states have generally ordered everyone to stay home and avoid physical contact by observing social distancing of 6 feet or more. All gatherings of 50 or more have been cancelled and areas where people typically congregate like beaches and state parks have been closed. I have heard some anecdotal stories of police breaking up “Corona Parties” of 50 or more people defying the order.
For the most part, businesses have been shuttered and over 3 Million people have filed for unemployment, but some businesses have been allowed to continue operations.
Businesses that can operate remotely and businesses deemed “essential” have been allowed to remain open, but determining whether a business is “essential” has proven to be more difficult than expected.
The construction sector has had an especially difficult time determining how to proceed. This is due in part because of the disparity from state to state and a lack of a federal mandate.
If you have been reading this blog consistently for the past few weeks, you probably were expecting this week’s article to be the fourth and final installment detailing my talk from the ProcureCon Conference this past January.
That article will publish next week. Given the massive impact the Corona virus has had on our lives globally, I could not go on with this blog without addressing it.
So this week, we will talk about the impact the virus could have on ongoing bids and active projects.