NYC Commercial Developers Gear Up for Tenants’ Return

July 08, 2020

By Maria Augustine

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the ways of the working world. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, almost one-third of Americans have been working from home since March 2020 due to the coronavirus. Before the pandemic, Manhattan was home to many large commercial tenants with tens of thousands of workers, some of whom may never return to their offices. As NYC begins its reopening process and prepares for phase two, these large commercial proprieties will need to take the necessary precautions to ensure tenant and employee safety.

On June 9, 2020, the Commercial Observer hosted a virtual roundtable with Silverstein Properties—a privately owned, family-held, real estate development firm based in New York City—for an exclusive interview regarding the steps being taken to reopen their buildings, including the World Trade Center. The company is gearing up for the return of tenants by implementing new policies and procedures, including:

  • Face masks will be required in all public spaces and when interacting with other employees.
  • Anti-microbial film will cover all major touchpoints that tenants and employees frequently use, such as door handles and elevator buttons.
  • Social distancing will be mandatory, and all policies and procedures will be listed in common areas.
  • Regular cleaning will be increased, and all staff will be supplied with the proper personal protective equipment.
  • Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering (“MEP”) systems are being reviewed for proper air quality.
  • Employees can opt to return to the office or work from home until they feel comfortable coming back.
  • For employees returning to the office, a staggered time schedule will help minimize interactions.
  • Conference rooms will be set up to continue a six-foot social distancing policy and equipped with the proper video conference capabilities to allow for social distancing.

In addition to the above policies and procedures, Silverstein Properties and their tenants are utilizing the capabilities of Dojo to assist in their smooth transition back to the office. Dojo is a software that creates a digital footprint of the company to track how and with whom their employees interact. This platform can help determine who needs to work from the office versus who can work from home. The software processes this data, helps determine a social distanced seating chart, and can assist in assigning groups or teams that should enter the office at certain times. Employees can also access this platform as an app on their smartphones. It will tell the user their assigned seat, the assigned time to be in the office, and provide these schedules for clear indications of allowable interaction with others in the same space. In addition, Dojo provides a self-checker questionnaire, obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which helps determine if it is safe for the employee to enter their offices or if they should seek medical attention based on their current conditions.

As the world continues to adapt to these newfound changes, clear communication and giving employees options will greatly help ensure safety and productivity in the workplace.

EisnerAmper LLP does not represent or warrant that any product(s) or services(s) depicted in this content are appropriate for any particular business purpose or use.  The material contained in this presentation is for the general information of our clients and business associates and should not be acted upon without prior professional consultation with a legal, accounting, or other professional.

 

About Donna Fleres

Donna Fleres has over 10 years in public accounting assisting companies with SEC reporting and managing audits in accordance with Public Company Accounting Oversight Board standards.