Canteens, personal protective equipment and staff mobility: How tenant needs have changed in 2020

Principal needs of business centre tenants in Moscow have changed radically in the COVID-19 environment, requiring new approaches by leading property management companies such as O1 Standard.  

Natalia Skachkova, Commercial Director of O1 Standard, told the Business CentreManagementconference(held in Moscow by the Academy of Real Estate and PROEstate Events with the support of the Russian Guild of Property Managers and Developers) about the new demands of tenants and what steps management companies must take to meet tenant needs.

Preventive measures by tenants against the spread of the coronavirus infection caused attendance at business centres managed by O1 Standard to drop by 75-80% after March 2020. There was a slight recovery in the summer when the self-isolation regime came to an end, but attendance has gone back to low levels after tight restrictions were reintroduced in Moscow this autumn.

Fewer staff in offices should mean reduction in demand for services provided by management companies. But large and medium-sized companies (most of O1 Standard’s customers) need to strike a balance between cost savings (reduced property services) and the need to maintain comfort and safety for staff who remain in the office.

The challenge for management companies is to redistribute services provided under contract in favour of services that are most relevant in the COVID environment, primarily regular preventive measures and additional disinfections when necessary.

Tenants expect management companies to provide personal protective equipment(masks, gloves, etc.)and COVID-19tests. Also shortage of manual workers, caused by the ban on labor migration during the pandemic, means that tenants who previously used outside firms to serve their offices are now calling on the building management company to meet needs, particularly when a task requires prompt solution at night and weekends.

Much lower traffic has not reduced tenant demand for diverse and high-quality infrastructure, particularly catering. Cafés and restaurants in business centres are largely oriented to external traffic and also use delivery options, but canteens, which serve internal traffic, are critically underused in the current situation. O1 Standardis therefore negotiating an arrangement where one canteen will serve tenant staff of two or more business centres located in close proximity in order to ensure that canteen services remain available.