Drive for property industry to create “Covid barrier” in Cape Town CBD for employees
As office workers return to their desks, Boxwood Property Fund is leading a drive to create a “Covid barrier” by encouraging service staff, tenants and contractors to vaccinate against Covid-19.
Boxwood, with a R2-billion portfolio of commercial and industrial property assets in Cape Town and KwaZulu-Natal, lead by CEO Rob Kane has embarked on a campaign to get its 100 staff and more than 400 contractors - ranging from property and building managers to handymen security officers and cleaners, vaccinated.
The company is aiming to create a “safety barrier between employees’ homes and office working tenants”. In order to boost the vaccination drive, Boxwood offer their staff time off work to go and get their vaccine, and also hold prize winning lucky draws for staff who have been vaccinated.
“We have a pharmacy tenant with a vaccination clinic in our portfolio, so we made appointments for our staff. Another tenant requested to use a vacant space to create a vaccination room for their staff, and our service providers have booked appointments through this venture too,” Kane said. “We have been talking to our tenants at length about educating their staff and trying to debunk the myths around the vaccine. This has been well received, as tenants look to drive more of their own staff to return to the office. In the long term, having staff vaccinated affects the bottom line of our tenants, it saves them the downtime of having staff members booked off ill and therefore drives up business productivity. If all landlords take a similar approach, it will serve to create safer office environments, and a safer building community.”
Following the property fund’s request to service providers in their portfolio, Essential Cleaning Services has presented toolbox talks to staff on Boxwood sites. “We realised after a survey that staff were nervous to vaccinate, so we strategised on how to explain the facts and myths to the staff. Since then, many of our team has been vaccinated,” said Natalie van Niekerk, Essential Cleaning’s Health and Safety Representative.
Two Lufthansa German Airline Companies - Boxwood tenants - held a vaccination drive for staff, and shared appointments with the portfolio’s service providers and staff.
Kane, in his position as chairman of the Cape Town Central City Improvement District, said he was talking to his fellow property owners and landlords to follow suit, as vaccination would “reduce the risk from occupants in offices and restaurants”.
While Boxwood hasn’t made vaccination mandatory, they are using education and fact-based material to get the message across. “So far it’s working well,” Kane said.