Case Study: Corporate Real Estate’s Response to COVID-19

In 2020, the majority of Cigna employees were asked to work from home. As a result, the majority of Cigna's locations remained vacant, with the exception of a skeleton crew, who worked to ensure that our clients, customers, and employees didn’t face service interruptions. However, our critical operation locations such as our data centers, pharmacy fulfilment locations, and warehouses remained staffed due to site dependency for these roles. These occupied sites represented 30 percent of our portfolio, with around 15,000 onsite employees.

To support our onsite workforce, the Global Real Estate team deployed a tiered incident response protocol and implemented a building conditioning program to help curtail disease transmission while maintaining indoor air quality comfort parameters. Our protocols, which complied with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, allowed for minimal disruption to business from a positive case onsite. As a result of these efforts and the efforts of other work streams, Cigna has been able to ensure service to our clients and customers who depend on us and to support onsite services and employees.

In 2020, Cigna's Global Real Estate team implemented improvement projects, including enhanced maintenance protocols to ensure adequate ventilation and air quality, while maintaining indoor air comfort parameters. We also tested additional technologies to improve our indoor air quality in locations where we have a site-dependent workforce. Additionally, we leveraged Crowd Comfort Technologies in order to better understand and respond to comfort, maintenance, and safety issues in our occupied spaces.

While our buildings were unoccupied, we took the opportunity to perform several efficiency upgrades without impacting business operations. Our 2020 utility usage and emission data, however, is anomalous compared with previous years’ due to the unusual workplace impacts from the pandemic. We saw minor reductions in energy use overall as we had to maintain building set points and conditioning to prevent mold growth and equipment failure upon reopening. We also utilized remote monitoring tools such as Building Management Systems and Building Automation Systems to improve efficiency in sporadically occupied buildings.

As we prepare for employees to return to our worksites, we are implementing onsite measures to provide a safe and healthy workplace experience for our employees, including:

Technology Space Planning Facilities Management Process and Strategy Development
  • Developed a desk-reservation system to allow flex seating for employees coming into the office; this also allowed for targeted cleaning of those spaces.
  • Developed a Tableau dashboard that keeps track of all sites, with site readiness status for re-occupancy.
  • Developed modified seating arrangements to allow sufficient social distancing.
  • With clinical guidance, determined maximum occupancy of each worksite to allow for sufficient distancing and good indoor air quality.

Air quality:

  • Increased ventilation with minimized recirculation of air
  • Extended operation of HVAC system
  • Improved air filtration (MERV-13 filters)

Cleaning and sanitation:

  • Enhanced cleaning protocols in place at all sites.

Social distancing signage at all worksites:

  • Wellness information
  • Hand sanitizing station
  • Self-cleaning station
  • Floor social distancing


  • Elevator/Escalator capacity
  • Conference room usage
  • Developed robust COVID-19 protocols to scale to all worksites, ensuring all standards are met and consistent across the enterprise.