Sponsored by our friends at Poms & Associates Insurance Brokers, Inc.

Mentally Preparing for Re-Entry to Work, School, and Society


Friday, Apr. 9, 2021
10:00 a.m. PDT / 11:00 a.m. MDT


With more and more people receiving their COVID-19 vaccinations, we are inching towards a return to normalcy in society. After more than a year of restrictions, remote work, and other major shifts in our everyday lives, we now have to prepare ourselves for life in a post-pandemic world. Join the Poms Risk Services experts for this webinar where we will discuss tips for readying yourself to return to offices, schools, and society in general.


COVID-19: Legislative, HR, and Safety Updates for April 2021


Friday, Apr. 23, 2021
10:00 a.m. PDT / 11:00 a.m. MDT


The Poms Risk Control Team is back for our monthly COVID-19 webinar, where we will be discussing legislative and regulatory changes regarding the coronavirus in both New Mexico and California, as well as important HR and safety pandemic-related updates. If you have any questions concerning COVID-19 and its impact on your organization, please submit them during registration and our panel of experts will address them in the presentation.

This article appeared originally on BIZNOW about our friends at Cresa.

Software company LogMeIn had most of its 3,500 workers commute into the office daily before the coronavirus pandemic. Going forward, almost none of them will.

After seeing their employees could be productive at home, LogMeIn’s executives in October introduced a long-term, remote-centric work strategy that will have roughly 3% of its employees coming into the office every day.

This strategy is leading LogMeIn to cut half of its 230K SF footprint in its Boston headquarters and about one-third of its worldwide office space.

“The decision we made to go remote-centric was one that was not made to solve for a short-term problem like the pandemic, but rather one that we believe reflects the way our employees want to work permanently,” LogMeIn Vice President of Global Real Estate Andy Hook told Bisnow in an email.

Many companies haven’t finalized their long-term remote work strategies yet, but office market experts say discussions have ramped up after several months of pandemic-induced paralysis, and they expect a host of tenants to reveal their future plans this year.

These decisions about how much of a company’s workforce to keep remote are coinciding with a re-evaluation of their long-term office needs. And if companies increasingly choose to give back large portions of their footprints like LogMeIn did, the already-weak office market could be in for a major reckoning.

“Companies are saying ‘I don’t need all this space, I’m going to have more of my workforce work from home tomorrow than they did yesterday,'” said Cresa Managing Principal Jason Jones, who leads the firm’s Remote Advisory Services team.

Several factors come into play for employers deciding whether to keep their workforce remote over the long term, such as their company culture, employee satisfaction, need for collaboration and their real estate costs. But one of the most important questions, which was the reason many employers were hesitant about remote work before the pandemic, is whether their workforce can be as productive when they’re not in the office.

Productivity can be a difficult metric to measure, especially for a dispersed workforce, but employers have used a series of methods over the last year as they evaluate the long-term sustainability of remote work. They have conducted employee surveys, tracked employee progress on measurable production goals, monitored revenue generation and client satisfaction, and in some cases instituted surveillance measures to ensure their employees are working.

The consensus of several companies, office brokers and workplace strategy consultants is that the majority of employees have been just as productive at home as in the office, if not more so. Remote work allows them to skip commuting, choose the hours when they are most productive and avoid workplace distractions.

A September survey from Global Workplace Analytics found that 75% of workers said they were just as productive or more productive working remotely, and they are interrupted an average of 43 minutes less every day than they were in the office.

“The biggest hold back for remote work has been that managers just don’t trust their employees to work untethered,” Global Workplace Analytics President Kate Lister said. “Once managers did it for themselves, they were more comfortable with it for their employees.”

Decision Paralysis Is Finally Subsiding

The unprecedented nature of the pandemic and the uncertainty over how long it would last led many companies to delay long-term real estate decisions last year and make their remote work strategies only temporary.

But as they surpassed nine months of remote work and began to look ahead to the new year, many companies kicked their long-term planning efforts into high gear.

“There has certainly been a pickup in activity of people wanting to start thinking about and assessing their real estate, whereas in the first half of the pandemic everyone wanted to put it on pause and figure out the short-term stuff,” Cresa Managing Principal Christie Minch said. “We’re now shifting into the phase where we’re working with a number of clients on their workplace of the future.”

Minch said that many of these discussions with clients revolve around the long-term effectiveness of remote work, and she has noticed a significant shift in executive attitudes.

“There have been a lot of groups who were primarily against teleworking and working from home prior to this but are much more open to it now,” Minch said. “And a lot of that is driven by employee productivity. The managers specifically are seeing that their employees are able to be just as productive, if not more in some cases.”

CBRE Head of Occupier Research Julie Whelan said companies were in a reflexive mode for at least six months after the pandemic began, but they now feel more comfortable discussing long-term strategy, even if those discussions haven’t yet materialized into a trend of long-term office leases closing.

“We are now in a very real period where we can start to imagine the return back to the office,” Whelan said. “That is really starting to ramp up: The discussion of what is going to be our influence over how people come back to the office … how that translates to real estate is the thing that’s still under discussion right now, because we don’t see transactions happening.”

The Agency, a residential real estate brokerage with 37 offices worldwide, has already started reducing its footprints because of the remote work trend, CEO Mauricio Umansky told Bisnow.

The firm is still adding new offices to expand its network, but he said the planned offices are around 35% smaller than they would have been before the pandemic. In September, it reduced the size of its existing Beverly Hills office from 12K SF to 10K SF upon the lease expiration, and Umansky said it has multiple upcoming expirations that will lead to similar reductions.

“We’re definitely going to see a much larger amount of the workforce work from home,” Umansky said. “We’ll still have the web of offices so we can network around the different markets, but we’ll have a smaller footprint at all of them.”

Roar Media, a South Florida-based marketing firm with 32 employees and a 5,700 SF office lease, hasn’t had employees in the office since March 12, CEO Jacques Hart said.

The company began using the online employee engagement platform Officevibe to help manage its remote workforce during the pandemic, but it still hasn’t finalized its long-term office strategy, Hart said. He had planned to make that decision by this month, but given the continued high levels of COVID-19 cases, he said he is waiting until at least April to finalize the company’s future workplace plans.

While he is still evaluating its future policies, he said he expects to implement a hybrid approach with remote work and office work that will have employees coming in two or three days a week. He is considering having revolving work stations rather than dedicated desks, and he said there is a “serious likelihood” this could lead Roar Media to reduce its office footprint.

“We’re trying to evaluate when is the appropriate time to put into effect ‘brave new world’ workforce policies,” Hart said. “I’m already hinting to the team, I did so yesterday, that the way we used to work is not the way we’re going to work in the future.”

‘Why Do We Need An Office?’

Executives have to weigh a variety of factors when determining what portion of their workforce will remain remote for the long-term, and whether they should reduce or even eliminate their office footprint.

Employee preferences are a main factor in any company’s decision-making, office experts said, and executives forcing workers to come to the office against their wishes could hurt their retention and recruitment efforts. But managers also need to ensure their employees are as productive at their jobs when working from home before they can commit to cutting their office footprints.

In workforce surveys her team has done, Minch said the main reasons employees say they want to be in the office involve company culture.

“Now that we know we can work from home and be productive, why do we need the office?” she said. “The top three results I’m consistently seeing no matter the industry group is: collaboration with my peers, socialization with my peers, and the spontaneity. You can ideate and collaborate and your day is not so scheduled.”

PwC Advisory Real Estate Director Katherine Huh said companies planning their remote work strategies need to make sure they understand the nature of their employee’s workflows and whether each specific role is better suited for the home or the office.

She said some roles have a greater need for an office presence if they require frequent collaboration, or if they need a type of technology that employees don’t have at home.

“What we are seeing a lot of is analyzing the workforce and understanding what percentage of the workforce can work remotely long-term versus what percentage needs to be in the office,” Huh said.

Sales teams in particular tend to work more successfully in the office, Adroit Health Group CEO Joseph Safina has found.

Safina, in an email to Bisnow, said he plans on scaling back his company’s office footprint significantly because of the success of remote work. The McKinney, Texas-based insurance marketing firm has 20K SF of office space, and he said it plans to cut its footprint to about 2,500 SF.

“While we’d like to fully transition to full remote working at Adroit Health Group by the end of 2021, we’ve found our sales teams in competitive workspaces outperform those who work from home,” Safina said. “The vast majority of administrative and support staff can operate effectively from home, but I imagine office environments will remain essential for sales teams in many industries.”

For companies considering changes to their real estate footprints, cost is always a key factor.

“Even if you’re doing extremely well, you don’t want to spend money on something you’re not using,” Whelan said. “As space is not being used and they’re trying to figure out what the future holds, they’re trying to rightsize their portfolios anywhere they can.”

When determining LogMeIn’s remote work strategy, Hook said the company evaluated three main factors: the legal framework for employees working in different jurisdictions, the practical aspects of whether employees working remote aligns with their business strategy, and the sustainability of the plan over the long term.

To ensure the remote work strategy is sustainable, he said employees must be able to meet performance expectations and business goals. And in order to meet those goals, employees must be able to be as productive at home as they were in the office.

“Productivity is an important part of a successful business, but we would like to expel the notion that people need to sit at a desk in an office to be productive,” Hook said.

Measuring Productivity From Home

In the past, managers would monitor employee productivity by walking through the office to make sure they were working. But workplace experts say this wasn’t as effective a method as many thought, and now companies are exploring new ways to measure the productivity of remote workers.

Cresa’s Jones said the ability to measure productivity goes hand-in-hand with effective leadership skills. He said that successful leaders create measurable goals and performance metrics for their employees to hit.

“It boils down to leadership and creating clear goals and objectives for the organization, and then measuring whether or not your employees are meeting those goals and objectives,” Jones said. “As opposed to another version of leadership which is ‘if I can see you and you’re working the hours you’re supposed to, then you must be productive.’ That mentality is not going to work effectively in an environment where people are working from home.”

Huh, who leads PwC’s occupier services business, said roles that translate well into clear performance metrics like sales jobs can be easy to track productivity, but not all employees have those types of jobs. Some employees spend most of their days on phone calls and videoconferences and have fewer concrete deliverables to measure.

For those types of jobs, Huh said managers can look at employees’ calendars to ensure they are spending their time in meetings, but a full calendar doesn’t necessarily mean an employee is just as productive at home.

“Is tracking my hours that I allocate to different things a good indicator of productivity? That has been a little bit tougher of a formula to crack,” Huh said. “The only way people have been looking at that so far has been asking employees if they feel like they are as productive.”

Lister, whose research firm has spent the last year asking employees if they feel as productive at home, said the answer has been a consistent “yes.”

A May survey from Global Workplace Analytics and Iometrics that received responses from 2,865 employees and managers over a six-week period at the start of the pandemic found that 77% of respondents were fully productive working from home.

In September, GWA released another survey in partnership with Owl Labs that found 75% of the 2,025 respondents were just as productive or more productive working from home. The survey also found that 80% of people expect to work from home at least three days per week after the pandemic.

“Employees have said they feel more trusted as a result of working from home,” Lister said. “Because of the increased autonomy, they’re less stressed and more comfortable.”

The Officevibe product that Roar Media implemented allows it to anonymously survey employees to gauge their feelings about remote work. While Hart said this type of engagement is important, he said he doesn’t have numerical metrics for tracking employee productivity, and he thinks pushing to maximize productivity can be unhealthy.

“Because of the intense amount of change that happened in Q1 and Q2 of 2020, our team members were sprinting,” Hart said. “We’ve had to now remind them that this is the new normal. This is not a sprint. This is a marathon. We can’t afford to burn ourselves out.”

Umansky said The Agency tracks productivity by assigning specific tasks to employees through its internal management platform and seeing how long it takes them to complete the tasks.

“It seems our efficiencies have actually increased,” he said. “The tasks are getting done.”

Lister said she has seen some examples of more invasive productivity tracking methods.

“We’re also seeing an increase in interest in surveillance technologies,” she said. “Whether it’s keyboard tracking or mouse movement or persistent videos or screenshots, there are a number of companies that have had these technologies for years, but the interest in them has suddenly gone up substantially. I call it virtual babysitting.”

A Microsoft product launch in October highlighted the potential pitfalls of tracking employee productivity.

The tech giant rolled out a feature for its Microsoft 365 platform called Productivity Score that allowed employers to see individual data on how often employees used email and chat functions. It received strong backlash from privacy advocates, with one digital rights activist calling it a “full-fledged workplace surveillance tool.”

In response to the backlash, Microsoft announced on Dec. 1 it was changing the product to remove the names of individual users, allowing employers to instead track trends across their organization.

“This change will ensure that Productivity Score can’t be used to monitor individual employees,” Microsoft 365 Corporate Vice President Jared Spataro said in a statement.

Huh said she expects many companies that adopt long-term remote work strategies will institute new ways to track productivity, but she thinks it is still too soon for that.

“Because we’re still very much in the pandemic, I think that most companies feel like it’s a bad image to start checking the productivity of people right now,” Huh said. “I would expect to see a lot more of that after the pandemic is behind us and people are choosing to work from home.”

With election season upon us many are watching to see what happens in California with Proposition 15, also known as split-roll. The measure increases funding for schools, community colleges and local government by changing the property tax assessments structure originally set by Proposition 13 in 1978. Residential, agricultural and smaller commercial or industrial property owners would be exempt but all owners of commercial and industrial property with a combined value over $3 million would potentially find themselves with huge property tax bills should Proposition 15 pass in November. The state of California believes that there will be a net increase in annual property tax revenues totaling between $7.5 and $12 billion per year. The potential impact to business and to occupiers, is tremendous.

A little background

Proposition 13 passed in 1978 and assessed ALL commercial and residential properties at the 1976 purchase price with annual increases capped at 2% per year. It prevents reassessment of a new base year property tax value except in the case of (1) A change in ownership or (2) completion of new construction, at which time it reassess value to the that current year but still caps the increases of assessed value at 2% per year moving forward. This means that if a property has not been sold, or nothing new has been built on it, the assessed value is 1976 market rates + 2% capped increase per year.

Examples

Here is an example to provide clarity on financial impact:

  • Under Proposition 13 TransAmerica Pyramid in SF had an assessed value of roughly $252,000,000 in 2018 and a tax burden of around $2,930,603
  • In 2019 the value increased only 2% to around $257,000,000 with a tax burden roughly $3,085,464.
  • This is an increase of $154,861 from 2018 to 2019. If you are a tenant in the building leasing 10,000 SF, the increase in your tax burden from 2018 to 2019 is $3,097. Not unbearable….
  • TransAmerica Pyramid actually sold during the pandemic (at a significantly discounted rate) for $909.70/SF x 501,458 SF = a new assessed value of $456,176,343. For ease and clarity we are going to assume 2020 as a full tax year rather than partial for this property.
  • So the value jumps from around $257,000,000 (2019) to $456,176,343 (2020); tax burden increases from $3,085,464 (2019) to $5,383,444 (2020) an increase of $2,297,837 in one year!
  • The same tenant with 10,000 SF of space in TransAmerica Pyramid will see their tax burden increase a by $45,958 from 2019 to 2020.

Another example from one of our team’s client Ontario, California with a 103K SF warehouse lease:

  • Real Estate Taxes 2018 equaled $98,962
  • Real Estate Taxes 2019 equaled $99,813
  • Property was sold October 2019 and new tax burden for the 2020 tax year is projected to be $180,423 (an 81% change from 2019), all of which falls on client because they occupy the building in entirety.

How Proposition 15 ties in

It gets even more complicated with Proposition 15, if passed, it will bring all commercial and industrial properties up to date on market value. It’s on the November ballot in California, and it could pass.

Proposition 15, also known as split-roll, will not affect residential real estate. Residential real estate will remain untouched and will not be reassessed unless it changes owners or a new structure is built on the property.

However, all commercial and industrial real estate properties will be reassessed under Proposition 15 and be based on its current market value (thus the term split-roll). Meaning if a building has not changed ownership in the past several years, those properties will see market value skyrocket like in the above examples, should Proposition 15 pass. This obviously won’t happen immediately and reassessment will be phased in between 2022 – 2025, but companies with larger holdings and bigger footprints are scheduled to be reassessed first.

The kicker is that unless a cap on OPEX or the so-called “Proposition 13 Protection” was negotiated at lease inception, tenants have no recourse. Many landlords won’t consider either because it makes it more difficult to find a buyer, should they want to sell. So if we have clients in California who did not negotiate either of these into their lease, you might make them aware of what could happen to their property taxes should the building in which they are leasing space sells, or if Proposition 15 passes in November. Moving forward, when negotiating leases in California you should keep this in mind, both educating the client and negotiating caps on OPEX if possible.

Any client with a lease in California is at risk should the property they occupy be sold during their tenancy, or if Prop 15 passes, and a tax analysis should be completed to see if their business is susceptible to a potentially significant increase in property taxes.

For a webinar by the author on this topic, click here: Cresa Webinar: Workplace 2.0

As companies emerge from the mandated work from home environment, they will begin asking questions such as, “How do we get our employees back to the office and keep them safe?” and “How will we reduce costs in a challenging economic environment?” But perhaps the most interesting question is, “What lessons did we learn about remote work?” The circumstances caused by the health crisis smashed the work-from-anywhere barrier. Now, the question is “How do we take advantage of the opportunity to re-think our workspace and the ability to work at the best location to maximize productivity, talent and financial return?” 

Working from home is not a new concept. Before the health crisis, many employees already worked from home and, as a result, were more productive. A Stanford study reported a 13% increase in productivity from telecommuters. Given the current success many companies are experiencing with remote work, it is not surprising that a March 2020 Gartner survey of 317 CFOs showed that nearly 1 in 5 respondents expect that 20% of their employees will work from home going forward.

What does that mean for the design and location of the future Workspace? The old model of a successful Workplace was built on 4 key elements: Talent, Culture, Technology and Physical Space.

The Future - New Paradigm

It is the 4th element that has exploded. The workplace is no longer a single, shared location, focused on the interior design. The fourth element can now be defined as:

BOTH the design of the office space AND the best location (home/office/other) – to maximize productivity, talent and financial return.

All the other elements of a successful workplace are still relevant but viewed through a new lens. The workplace has been transformed into a network of flexible, convenient and on-demand spaces that leverage technologies to allow freedom-of-movement and purposeful collaboration.

ATL-PhysicalSpaceandCollaboration

The new paradigm combines the concept of physical space with purposeful methods of collaboration – whether in-person collaboration or through digital mediums. We call this new paradigm Workplace 2.0 .

How do you apply Workplace 2.0? It all starts with culture. There must be a culture that is open to a new way of working that contemplates a fresh view of Work from Anywhere. Under the umbrella of culture, some of the key business drivers to consider include operations, human resources, and finance.

How to Think About Workplace 2.0

1. Operations — Finding ways to drive value and performance: You need to decide what types of jobs are best suited for remote work and when employees need to be in the office. You may need to reconfigure your office space and take proper security measures with employees using personal computers. 

2. Human Resources — Finding ways to drive culture and morale: How will you determine who is best suited to work from home? Are these the people who work best independently and have the necessary resources to get the job done? Managers will need to communicate larger company goals so that remote workers can make unsupervised, independent decisions. They may also need to shift communication venues, such as going from email to instant messaging. It is important to set expectations from the beginning, to avoid misunderstandings.

3. Finance — Finding ways to save money, make money, and drive better employee/customer satisfaction

a. Workplace Design: Reducing the number of fixtures, furniture, and equipment needed within your space can lower costs.

b. Employee & Customer Satisfaction: Happier employees are more likely to stay at a company, which therefore reduces employee turnover. This saves you money in the long run by not having to rehire and train employees. Satisfied employees also drive a better customer experience, that leads to retaining customers, reducing customer acquisition costs, and increasing the lifetime value of the customer. 

c. Real Estate: Perhaps the greatest cost savings tool is to reduce the amount of space you lease. Depending on the amount of space each person occupies and the rental rate, savings can range between $3,000 and $10,000 per remote employee per year. 


The dropping of the cultural barrier has provided a significant opportunity to maximize productivity, talent attraction and retention, and financial results. The next step is to think through an Evaluation Process and create a strategy for your organization utilizing four steps: Discovery, Analysis and Planning, Implementation, and Managing.

Evaluation Process, Workplace 2.0.

1. Discovery: Create a team that has ownership of the process. The team will evaluate the current environment and define specific goals that are measurable and accomplishable.

2. Analysis & Planning: Develop management and training plans, as well as an overall blueprint that outlines the entire initiative. The blueprint should include justification, that is the business case for why you are making the change. 

3. Implementation: Roll out policies and procedures, compliance issues, and evaluate the technology and infrastructure that facilitates the “Work from Anywhere” strategy.

4. Managing: Reporting analytics, ongoing support for the program, and managed services for some of the technologies you’ve implemented.

The cultural barrier to “Work from Anywhere” has been torn down, changing the way that we work and opening doors to new opportunities. This demands a new view of the workplace –Workplace 2.0™. Start with a mindset that “Work from Anywhere” is possible and ask yourself “What is our new Workplace 2.0™ strategy that will maximize productivity, talent, and financial return?”

The blog was originally posted by our friends at Cresa the world’s most trusted occupier-centric commercial real estate firm.

Jason Jones leads Cresa’s technology and telecommunications advisory service line, Cresa C3.

Whether you are marketing a part of your office space for sublease, selling your building or aiming to recruit and retain top talent by showcasing your work environment, the look and feel of your office matters. Despite the inevitable paradigm shift that we’ve experience as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, for most industries, there is still a need for some version of commercial office space.

In any of these situations it is important to properly market your space through use of diverse multimedia. One way to do this is through video marketing. For example, for a sublease opportunity, a virtual tour of the space can be a great way to showcase the space to potential tenants to gauge interest without them even having to physically go into the space. This is especially helpful during the COVID-19 world we are living in where we continue to practice social distancing. Time and again, video has proven to be a valuable marketing tool because of its interactive nature.

Here are some things to keep in mind when creating a successful virtual tour video of your space:

Tidy Up

Decluttering and cleaning up your space is one of the best things you can do to really make it shine. Simple things like having clean desk surfaces, wire management and making office chairs in the conference rooms are at the same height and aligned with each other makes a huge difference.

Set the Scene

  • Capture wide, establishing shots that show the exterior of the building and the surrounding area.
  • Show close-up detail shots that highlight the unique features of the building and office space. Consider classic attributes like hardwood floors, exposed brick, and high-quality furniture, as well as innovative aspects decor such as living green walls or cool art.
  • Create a buzz. Highlight the surrounding area, pointing out the cool restaurants, gyms, bars, cafés and attractive green space nearby.
  • If the main lobby for the building is appealing, get permission from the landlord/property manager to capture footage of the space. Additionally, if there are common amenities within the building like shared gyms, cafés or meeting spaces that show well, include those.
embed in duncans blog

Variety is Key

  • Open the video with wider establishing shots, then focus on the specific details.
  • Utilize long Glidecam or gimbal shots to provide an immersive feel to the video. Any movement should be slow and subtle to ensure the viewer actually feels as if they are walking through the space.
  • Use locked tripod shots and simple panning shots to provide balance to the tracking shots, as there can be too much of a good thing.
  • Use the right lens for the job. A Zeiss Batis f/2.8 18mm strikes a nice balance of showing enough of the space without much distortion. Additionally, the lens features internal stabilization, providing a smooth result when combined with a Glidecam, and stabilizing in post-production if needed.

Seek out Unique, Cool, Legal/Licensed Music

  • Traditionally, royalty free music is pretty stale and uninspired. Websites like Musicbed.comAudiojungle.net and Premiumbeat.com are a great place to start your search.
  • Don’t just pick the first musical track you find and call it a day. Keep in mind that audio is 50% of video, and often times the first comment is positive feedback regarding the music. It can take a lengthy search to find the right track.

Use Titles to Highlight Interesting Space Features

for duncans blog

Mix in Aerials

  • Use a drone, the common name for a UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System). Be sure to use an insured, licensed professional with their Part 107 certification who is familiar with airspace restrictions. Anything within five nautical miles of Downtown Boston is in Class B airspace, which features tiered altitude ceilings and requires LAANC approval using an app like Kittyhawk.io
  • Consider the location. A UAS is particularly helpful in suburban areas, as the altitude restrictions are more forgiving, and operations are more straightforward.

Short and Sweet

  • Time is of the essence. By keeping your video under two minutes, you’re more likely to hold the attention of your viewers until the tour’s end.

To demonstrate the quality of your space, it is vital to properly market your office through diverse multimedia. Whether it’s for an upcoming sublease or sale, or just to demonstrate your company’s value to potential talent, a virtual tour video serves as an innovative and interactive asset.


The blog was originally posted by our friends at Cresa the world’s most trusted occupier-centric commercial real estate firm.

Duncan Lake, a media production specialist on the marketing team, tells the stories of Cresa and its clients through high-quality video and photography. He holds a B.A. in Television and Video Production from Emerson College.

Many businesses are in the throes of re-evaluating their real estate needs as they weigh the cost of their space against the rapid rise of remote work culture. While many are opting to sublease, those that are choosing to maintain offices are looking for ways to take pressure off their balance sheets and ride out the downturn.

Strategies for the Current Market

Second quarter market data and early third quarter activity show signs that tenants will have increased leverage with options like short-term leases and free rent. So now is a critical time to review your lease (or leases) and ensure your real estate portfolio is optimized to weather the storm. 

A forensic lease audit offers tenants the opportunity to identify errors and recover overcharges. Operating expense exclusions, incorrect accounting methodology, calendar vs. fiscal year taxes and incorrect sublandlord billings are examples of common errors that can have impact on a tenant’s business. The COVID-19 pandemic may also give tenants the opportunity to challenge common area maintenance (CAM) charges or improper gross-up calculations based on unoccupied offices.

For businesses with a multi-location real estate portfolio, lease administration and strategic planning services can help businesses visualize their full portfolio to ensure that critical dates aren’t missed in strategic planning, monthly rent schedules are planned properly and that landlords and occupiers are in compliance. These services not only take the stress off of in-house teams, they can uncover hidden costs.

Navigating with an Unbiased Advocate

Occupiers who hire tenant-only advisors benefit from certain strategic advantages in lease negotiations. Because these advisors are not bound by any obligations to a landlord, they are positioned to negotiate more aggressively. How? They keep your desired outcome completely confidential, offer unbiased opinions on your situation and can leverage competitive offers from multiple landlords. All of this gives the tenant maximum leverage in negotiations, resulting in a real estate strategy that better supports your business.


The blog was originally posted by our friends as Cresa the world’s most trusted occupier-centric commercial real estate firm.

Nick Markel is currently supporting occupiers on lease advisory and workplace strategy services. Contact him for more information. For thought-starters on negotiation points as occupier leverage increases, download our guide.

Most hope that COVID-19 won’t hit close to home or work. But what do you do if an employee tests positive for the virus?

On May 19, 2020, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (“OSHA”) issued new guidance on COVID-19 recordkeeping requirements for employers. OSHA clarified that COVID-19, indeed, is a recordable respiratory illness—but whether you have to report it to OSHA depends.

When are you responsible for reporting COVID-19 cases to OSHA?

In general, you are responsible for reporting cases of COVID-19 if your employee’s case meets all of the following:

  • The individual has a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • The case is work-related (see more info on this in the chart below)
  • The case results in any of the following: death, days away from work, restricted work, medical treatment beyond first aid, loss of consciousness, orsignificant injury.

Are all employers responsible for reporting cases of COVID-19?  

You are exempt from this reporting requirement if your business either:

  • Employs 10 or fewer employees
  • Is a Low-hazard industry employer (this link lists OSHA’s definition of “low-hazard employers” in Appendix A).

Even if your business falls into one of these categories, you should still monitor any workplace COVID-19 cases, especially if you discover that the illness fits OSHA’s definition of “work-related”.

If any work-related COVID-19 illness results in a fatality or patient hospitalization – regardless of the above exemptions – you must record the illness with OSHA. Work-related fatalities must be reported to OSHA within 8 hours, and hospitalizations must be reported within 24 hours.

When do you classify a COVID-19 illness as work-related?

OSHA has given the employer considerable discretion in determining whether a COVID-19 case is work-related. But it has issued some guidelines for employers to consider.

Reasonable investigation

After you learn that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, you should conduct an inquiry into the illness. You need not undertake extensive medical inquiries and should be mindful of your employee’s privacy. OSHA has outlined an acceptable method of investigation:

  • Ask the employee how they believe they contracted COVID-19.
  • Discuss with the employee possible activities – both work and out-of-work – that may have led to the illness.
  • Review the employee’s work environment, especially if there are other instances of workers who tested positive in the same environment.

Evidence of work-relatedness

The determination of work-relatedness should be grounded in any reasonable evidence that is available to you at the time of the inquiry. OSHA has provided some insight on what it considers strong evidence in favor for or against work-relatedness determinations.

What if you are still unsure about the work­-relatedness classification?

OSHA has noted the difficulty of determining whether a COVID-19 case is work-related. To that end, if, after your good faith inquiry, you cannot determine whether it is more likely than not that the workplace caused the COVID-19 case, you need not report the case. And if you do, in the words of OSHA itself, be assured that recording a COVID-19 illness “does not, of itself, mean that the employer has violated any OSHA standard.”

The purpose of the recordkeeping guidelines is to help you respond appropriately to any COVID-19 cases. Even if an employee contracts COVID-19, if you use the steps outlined above to conduct a thorough work-relatedness inquiry and record the process, you effectively minimize your risk of violating OSHA standards and you better protect your workers. An OSHA reporting tutorial can be found at: https://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/tutorial/508.html

To download and print our easy-to-follow guid on how/when to report COVID-19 cases to OSHA, click the button below.

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