Innovation Center Plans to Navigate Covid-19
29th May 2020
Written by GSVlabs
GSVlabs San Mateo Innovation Center plans to reopen on June 1st, 2020, under the latest San Mateo County order, where businesses can open for those that ‘cannot perform their job duties from home’.
While we have closely been in consultation with officials in the San Mateo and California area to abide by recommendations from government and health authorities, most states are moving to open non-essential businesses within the next few weeks. We are sharing our blueprint for reopening which may serve to support your business reopening plans.
Important - When planning your business and office space reopening, you should always consult your local government and health authorities for guidelines and recommendations that apply to your area.
Phase 1 Response
CA and San Mateo authorities continue to encourage telework whenever possible at this time. For members returning to our center on June 1st, this document describes our Phase 1 Response and the rules and practices that will govern the use of the space during Phase 1. As recommendations change and California enters new phases of response, we will update this plan to additional stages to match. As a community, we will then have the ability to move forward (and backward if necessary) between phases as needed. We are excited to bring our members back to our Center safely!
The Coronavirus has disrupted and transformed our lives and businesses. While we are getting used to operating remotely, collaboration and connection have never been more important. GSVlabs’ mission is to support entrepreneurs, innovators, and creators. One way we do this is by providing a flexible office solution designed to help startups focus on building and growing their businesses. In the context of the global pandemic, we aim to deliver on that promise by creating an office environment that prioritizes the health and safety of members so you can continue to work, problem solve, and run effective companies safely. The following document outlines our initial action plan based on our research and the recommendations from government and health authorities. We look forward to seeing you back at GSVlabs soon.
We are all in this together!
GSVlabs is taking significant actions to create a safe and healthy working environment based on recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and our local authorities. As more information and direction becomes available, we will adjust our response accordingly.
Our current action plan consists of three primary parts: 1) policy changes to help maximize the safety of our members, 2) social distancing guidelines to prevent the potential spread of infection, and 3) increased sanitation and cleanliness of our facilities.
Policy & Behavior Changes
To combat the spread of COVID-19 and keep our community safe, we need the help of every company and individual member. The following policy changes will help ensure a safe workplace, and effective contact tracing in the event of infection. We appreciate your collaboration in this effort!
Checking in & Temperature Testing
During Phase 1, all members will be required to check-in every day to GSVlabs in the following manner:
1. Health Check Form
Prior to entering the building, or while you’re in the building lobby, members must submit a general health check form through our website. This will be a brief survey of 3-4 questions to make sure you are feeling well and have not been in close
contact with someone who has had a positive COVID-19 diagnosis within the last 14 days. We will send out the survey link
before June 1 and it will be readily available inthe lobby to look up or scan with a QR code.
You will receive a confirmation email that you will show to a GSVlabs staff member before entering a GSVlabs suite.
2. Temperature Check
A GSVlabs staff member will then check your temperature using a no-touch heat sensing thermometer and allow you to enter the space. Any person with a fever of 100.4 F or higher will be asked to work from home Our check-in policy is designed to a) remind members to carefully consider how you are feeling and if you might be at risk of spreading infection, b) empower GSVlabs to perform effective contact tracing in the event of infection in our facility by tracking who enters the building each day. Our GSVlabs receptionist or another staff member will monitor this check-in process from a table in the 1st floor lobby during Phase 1.
To eliminate unnecessary foot traffic to our workspace, we will not allow guests at GSVlabs San Mateo during Phase 1. If it is critical to your business that you bring a visitor to the center, please let GSVlabs know at and we may approve on a case by case basis. Local and state governments continue to encourage taking as many meetings as you can virtually. We believe this policy will minimize risk to our members. View the resources page for data behind our decisions (policy2).
GSVlabs is implementing CA's OSHA guidelines for reopening of offices. During phase 1, members must wear a face covering in the GSVlabs center whenever within the vicinity of others or where standard 6 ft. social distancing may not be maintained. For the avoidance of doubt, this means face coverings must be worn at all times when:
- Entering and exiting the building
- Using the elevator
- Accessing any common areas including bathrooms, kitchens, lounges, conference rooms, and phone booths
- Working within 6 ft. of someone.
We will have masks available upon request at reception for our members. View the resources page for data behind our decisions ( policy3,12, 13 ). ©
Social distancing is the best tool we have to avoid being exposed to the virus and slowing its spread locally. Social distancing means staying at least 6 feet apart from other people, not gathering in groups and staying out of crowded places.4 We are taking major steps to ensure social distancing can be practiced at GSVlabs.
Workspaces are being repositioned to ensure 6 feet of distance between desks. Where necessary we will also be adding partitions between desks. Below is an example of the type of layout in the office which you can expect upon your return. Desks marked with an “x” will no longer be in use and will be clearly marked as closed. The blue lines represent partitions between desks.
Due to a high volume of orders, some of our long-term partitions and solutions may not beavailable on day 1. In this scenario, desks may be staggered to ensure at least 6 ft. of distancing in Phase 1. Company CEO’s/main contacts will be contacted directly to discuss any changes in location or desk assignment.
Suggested Circulation Route
As indicated above we will also have a suggested circulation route clearly marked throughout the office. We ask that you follow these routes at all times.
The hot desk work spaces are being redesigned to allow for social distancing.
- Please follow signage and only sit in areas that are designated as “open”
- We ask that hot desk members pick one spot each day, rather than move to multiple locations to minimize risk and allow us to better perform contact tracing in the event of an infection.
- Disinfect the desk both before and after using the space with available wipes
Conference Rooms & Common Areas
Lounges and conference rooms will now have a specified capacity. Please follow signage and respect the capacity requirements for each space. Disinfectants will be available in each space and wiping down the space when done with use is requested.
- Wipe down each space with available disinfectant before and after use
- Wear your mask when in common areas or conference rooms
The cafe seating areas have been marked in the same manner as hot desk and lounge spaces to allow for social distancing. As our kitchens are high risk areas for crowds and foot traffic, coffee services will be suspended during Phase 1 of reopening. We will do our best to open up our coffee service safely in the coming weeks. Please follows these guidelines when using our kitchen facilities:
- Wear masks when accessing the kitchen
- Wipe down handles with available disinfectant before and after accessing water
machines, refrigerators, or sinks
- Follow capacity and seating markers that indicate where you can sit
In Phase 1, all internal and external events have been cancelled through July 1st, 2020. As we approach July, we will review and revise this policy. We continue to host and curate virtual events for the GSVlabs community on our site. We also provide free enterprise level zoom access to all members on Passport here to best support you in your effort to continue meetings and online events.
- Some furniture may have been removed from the space to allow for social distancing, please do not move any furniture.
- Whiteboard markers will now be kept in reception and available by request at the front desk to avoid communal use
Cleaning & Sanitation
Reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 by cleaning and disinfection is an important part of reopening public spaces. We will be extending our cleaning cadence to every 4 hours and will be paying special attention to high touch areas. Below are the actions we are taking to ensure high sanitation standards are met. View the resources page for data behind our decisions.
We are working with our facilities staff and janitorial services to develop a comprehensive sanitation and cleaning plan. Cleaning will now take place every 4 hours for common areas and commonly touched items, and a deeper sanitation will take place nightly. A few things to note:
-Whiteboard markers will be kept and sanitized at reception, please enquire with reception when needed and do not share markers with others.
- Cleaners will be using disinfectants as approved by the EPA as ones that kill the COVID-19 virus7 or, when not available, they will use solutions with at least 70% alcohol.
Air Circulation/HVAC Changes
It is known that it is possible for infectious aerosols to be disseminated through buildings by pathways that include air distribution systems and interzone airflows. While there is not significant evidence that COVID-19 is spreading this way within buildings, we are taking all recommended action around HVAC systems to keep air flow as safe as possible. Various strategies have been found to be effective at controlling potential transmission including optimized airflow patterns directional airflow etc.9 The CDC points to standards that were put in place by ASHRAE. We are working closely with our property management to ensure that these standards are met.
A community Effort
While we will do our best to maintain the cleanest space possible, we need the community’s help to sanitize commonly used spaces and practice good personal hand hygiene. The CDC recommends you wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.6 We have also increased the number of touchless sanitation stations in the office. Please wash your hands and use hand sanitizer regularly in the office. Disinfectant will be readily available in all conference rooms, hot desk areas, and kitchens. Please use the available cleaning tools to clean and disinfect common workstations before and after you use them for the protection of all members. Thank you for your cooperation!
In the case of a COVID-19 Diagnosis
We require that members and guests immediately inform GSVlabs if you have had a positive COVID-19 test. We will also ask you to identify any members of the community that you had close contact10 with preceding the diagnosis. Upon receiving this information:
- We will notify the whole community that a member has been tested positive and the days they were last in the space.
- We will also specifically notify those that you were in close contact with that they may have been exposed.
- We will not share your identity unless you give us express permission to do so. If we do receive your permission to disclose your identity, we will release this information to the community so members can self-assess if they may have been in close contact with your and take precautionary action.
- If the diagnosis was...
- Less than 7 days since the member used the facility, we will close the facility for 24 hours and conduct a deep clean of the space as recommended by the CDC
- 7 days or more since the infected member used the facility, we will continue the routinely scheduled disinfection and cleaning of the space but will not close the Center.
GSVlabs is exploring options to provide members better access to Covid-19 viral and antibody testing. As we continue to explore these options, we want to remind you of the closest testing facilities to our offices:
CA Community-Based Testing Site : 1346 Saratoga Dr. San Mateo, CA 94403
Menlo Medical Clinic : 1300 Crane St, Menlo Park, CA 94025
For more locations visit : https://www.smcgov.org/covid-19-testing
The following is a list of resources you can review to understand the basis for many of thepolicies put forth in this document.
1. U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission - What you should know about Covid-19 and ADA rehabilitation act and other EEO Laws and Cooley Practical Considerations for Employers Preparing ‘Return to Office’ Plan
3. CDC Mask Recommendations
4. CDC Social Distancing Guidelines
9. ASHRAE Guidance on HVAC systems
11. CDC What to do if you are sick
12. County of San Mateo Face Covering Order
13. CA’s OSHA Guidelines - COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Office Workspaces