As a shared, flexible term, private office rental space operating in Midtown Manhattan for 30 years, we know a thing-or-two about how offices run and what businesses need getting back to work after COVID. We checked-in with our General Manager, Georgia Gournas, to share what she’s seeing and hearing as NYC businesses think about re-opening and what that means for their office space needs.
What are the main concerns you’re hearing from business owners searching for office space right now?
Everyone is really focused on having their own private space. Larger teams are worried about having enough private space for them to work comfortably and safely together. I’m also asked about cleaning protocols and how we are addressing the use of personal protective gear like gloves and masks for our team members and our clients, alike.
But then again, everyone still has the same general questions that they’ve always had about amenities. They want to know about our IT support, conference rooms, and reception services, for example.
That’s interesting. We all know office life will be different, especially when getting back to work after COVID. But it is comforting to hear that some things might remain the same. What do you see as unchanged from before there were concerns about social distancing?
A lot of the basics of what we provide day-to-day will be the same. We’ve always featured private offices, and we’ve always had flexible leasing terms. Our clients can transfer to other office spaces at any time during their agreement, and right now we’re getting great feedback about how much they appreciate being able to scale to fit their needs. For example, a team of 12 that might not be ready to have everyone come back to the office right away can cut back to a group of single offices for just a few people. When that team is ready to have all 12 people back in the office, we can move them back to a larger space.
We’re still dedicated to giving our clients access to conference rooms and common areas in a way that is safe with social distancing markers in place including reduced capacity for our conference rooms. Most importantly, we are going to continue to provide the best customer service. We’ll still have reception, on-site concierge services, and a way to help clients connect with the partner support services they need from payroll to printing.
The one thing that will be different is how we execute networking and social events. For example, even though we can’t get together for client happy hours right now, we’re utilizing virtual socializing and considering ideas like distributing special gift bags to let our customers know how much we appreciate them. Sometimes the little things can make all the difference!
I’m finding that our services really will remain the same, just executed a little bit differently, especially considering the context of getting back to work after COVID.
What is the driving force for ElevatedNY’s evolution in the new office environment that promotes health safety?
We are giving our clients the opportunity to reach out and talk to us about social distancing concerns and making sure we exceed those expectations. Just this past week we spoke to a client that needed a bigger space for their team so they can be spaced farther apart while they still all can work together.
We’ve always had phenomenal cleaning protocols and now we have a dedicated resource cleaning every hour – doorknobs, tables, tv screens, all high touch areas being disinfected around the clock.
Also, we’re following CDC guidelines and have implemented a rule that everyone must wear a mask or face covering in our common areas. And, in addition to that, we’re putting up signage and floor decals, to make sure everyone feels they are able to comfortably talk to our reception team and greet their own clients when they arrive.
We’re obviously limiting capacity in all our common spaces, conference rooms, and kitchens. We’re definitely making a visibly different environment but also making sure it stays true to our principle of being a welcoming and professional environment.
Is there any benefit to being owner operated as you address making changes to ElevatedNY?
Yes, the number one thing is all the employees are directly hired by the building owner. Everyone in our building — the famed Hippodrome right in midtown Manhattan — is working together and we have more access and control to efforts being made across the building to increase safety.
More specifically, our building entrance will have one-way path entry and exit, limited capacity on elevators, and all visitors will be screened upon arrival for health cues. We have the benefit of being able to share that data so there’s no need to double up when guests arrive on our floor and we have freedom to give input back to the building on how it is all working.
Without that relationship to the building ownership, which is the same ownership as ElevatedNY, we could be limited on what we were able to do based on the building rules, but because we’re owned and operated, we can be more efficient.
Cleaning is also extremely important – in many workspaces cleaning services start at the end of each day – but we’re able to commit to cleaning all day long as well as after hours.
With the line of communication going directly to the building ownership, it’s easy for us to answer questions. For instance, if a tenant asks about how busy the lobby will be, we know for absolute certain because are not only talking to all the clients in our offices, but all the other tenants in the building. We can tell our shared spaced clients here at ElevatedNY what to expect. Every small business that rents with us has equal access to the landlord as their large business multi-floor leasing neighbors.