Lone Tree’s corporate buildings remained quiet Monday as coronavirus office closures were rolled back
For many Colorado employers, Monday was the first time in almost six weeks that they were able to reopen their offices and bring workers back to their desks, so long as they took some strict coronavirus-related precautions, of course.
Having Gov. Jared Polis’ permission to return to the office and actually doing it are different matters, as Jeff Holwell, economic development director for the City of Lone Tree, can attest.
Located along a busy stretch of Interstate 25 south of the Denver Tech Center, Lone Tree is home to more than 10,000 office jobs, Holwell estimates. With nearby counties including Denver and Arapahoe extending stay-at-home orders through Friday, Lone Tree’s collection of office buildings and corporate campuses was among the few metro area job hubs subject to the regulatory roll-back on Monday.
“I would say that office openings will happen incrementally,” Holwell said after driving around the city to get a feel for how many businesses were bringing back workers. “That is my observation so far.”
Retailers, which have been allowed to be open in Douglas County since Friday with certain restrictions in place, were much more visibly active on Monday, Holwell said.
Financial services giant Charles Schwab operates a multi-building campus in Lone Tree. Around 4,500 employees work on the campus when things are operating normally, Holwell said. But that campus remained relatively quiet Monday.
Schwab officials declined to say just how many people are expected to report this week to the Lone Tree campus, but across the country roughly 95% of the company’s employees are working from home.
“As we look to the future, when and how we return to the office will be in a way that safeguards and supports our employees and clients,” company spokesman Pete Greenley said in an email. “Any return will be based on how the recovery from the pandemic progresses, as well as guidance from health experts like the Centers for Disease Control and the government.”
In south Denver, Andrew Graham, the president and CEO of Clinic Service, is preparing to be part of an online panel on Friday organized by the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce to provide insight into what it’s like to manage a large office in the age of coronavirus.
Graham’s company, which provides business infrastructure services for independent medical practices, has remained open as an essential business through the pandemic. Occupying a three-story building near Kennedy Golf Course, Clinic Service’s 50 staffers have been able to spread out so each has a separate room. Even so, one of them contracted COVID-19 a few weeks ago. The employee has since fully recovered and returned to work but some other employees took time away from the building after their colleague became sick, Graham said.
Clinic Service keeps its doors locked to everyone except the company’s postal carrier, cleans entry areas three times per day with a bleach solution and has containers of hand sanitizer at virtually every desk. Continual communication with staff has been key to navigating the challenges, Graham said.
“Just be smart,” Graham said of his advice to fellow employers. “This thing still exists. It will always exist, and when it’s not this (virus) it’ll be another one. So wash your hands, turn off your TV, take a walk and appreciate it.”
Updated May 5, 2020, at 8:25 a.m. Because of an error by a reporter, Jeff Holwell’s name was originally misspelled in this story.