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SNOW DAYS For Small Business?

snow days for small businessWhen should small business owners give snow days to employees?

Winter is here. Last month’s bomb cyclone, courtesy of winter storm Grayson, and several heavy snowfalls in the past couple of weeks made sure to remind us of that. But what’s a small business to do when the roads are iffy or weather conditions are just downright dangerous? Are you required to close the office?

The answer is, it depends. We’ll do our best to help you dig in to the rules, regulations and requirements so you can keep your employees safe and your office running.

Calling it a Day

There are no hard and fast rules regulating office closure for private businesses or snow days for small business specifically. In most cases, even a government-declared State of Emergency does not mandate administrative policies for individual businesses or employee travel.

That being said, your number-one priority should be the health and safety of your greatest assets – your employees. Requiring them to report to the office on days when plows can’t keep up with snowy, icy roads or situations that pose a threat to public safety does nothing for employee morale. And calling for an in-office workday when schools are closed due to inclement weather creates a hardship for many working parents. But as a business owner, we know you’ve also got to keep your eye on the bottom line.

Knowing When to Pay

According to the Labor Law Center, state laws vary regarding business closures during inclement weather, but most states abide by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Under the FLSA:

  • Hourly (non-exempt) employees need only be paid for hours worked. If you close your business for a day, requiring hourly employees to stay home, you are not required to pay those employees for that day.

New York also has Call-Back/Report-In pay laws that require employers to pay hourly employees a minimum number of hours when they work less than their scheduled shift. In New York state, if a non-exempt employee reports to work, he must be paid for the full shift or four hours of work (whichever is less), even if he’s sent home early because of bad weather.

  • Salaried (exempt) employees who are willing and able to work (and have worked at least a few minutes during the payroll week) must be paid their salary each day your office is closed due to inclement weather. The same holds true for exempt employee who stays home on a snow day, but does an hour or two of work from home.

Making a Plan

It’s a good idea to develop an office policy about how your company will handle employee work hours and payroll in the event of inclement weather or other emergencies. The policy, a written copy of which should be provided to all current and incoming employees, should include:

  • How your office defines an inclement weather day or emergency
  • How and when employees will be contacted about office closures (for both full-day and partial-day closures)
  • How/if employees will be paid on days they are not in the office due to inclement weather

You might also address possible alternatives to working in the office on inclement weather days. Options include allowing employees to work from home (keeping your employees safe and your production flowing) or allowing employees to take a personal or vacation day when your office is open but they can’t make it in due to weather.

Whatever you decide, be sure to balance your business needs with your employees’ needs. Have questions about FLSA or other labor laws in New York state? Visit the New York State Department of Labor website or contact your corporate attorney.


The Anderson Group helps small businesses do business. Looking for commercial office space? Contact Susan Touhey at 518-458-7726 or stouhey@tagny.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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Finding Quiet in a Noisy Office

noisy office3 simple ways to combat a noisy office

Rachel in accounting has a new grandson. You know because you’ve overheard her telling coworkers about him all day. You also know the guy two desks down has an incessant (and somewhat alarming) cough. And Jennifer is on her phone arguing with her sister. Again.

If you work in an office with an open floorplan, this may sound familiar.

Don’t get us wrong: Open floorplans have their advantages, such as encouraging collaboration and facilitating communication. But for many workers, that collaboration and communication come with a hefty dose of distraction.

A full 70% of U.S. workplaces have an open floorplan. Yet a 2014 study conducted by Steelcase found that 49% of workers report not being able to concentrate. The study also found that the average office worker loses 86 minutes a day due to workplace distractions. That means your company – and your employees – lose employee productivity, job satisfaction and morale.

So how do you achieve both collaboration and concentration in a noisy office? The good news is you don’t have to sacrifice one to get the other. Here are three simple tips for reducing noise in your workplace.

  1. Move noisy office equipment. Locate your noise-making machinery, such as printers, copiers and fax machines, away from employee workspaces. If you have the square footage, designate a separate room for noisy equipment.
  1. Absorb the sound. In the “olden days,” companies worried about noise control mounted fabric-covered fiberglass panels on the walls to mute excess sound. These days, there are more attractive sound-dampening accessories – from furniture and room dividers to ceiling, floor and wall treatments.
  1. Go green. By nature of their sound-absorbing bark and leaves, plants can be an effective way to reduce unwanted sound in open-office settings by soaking up reverberations. And plants pack a one-two punch by improving your office air quality at the same time.

Whether you design your office with noise reduction in mind or retrofit your space with acoustical materials and products, there are ways to minimize noise and maximize productivity at every budget level. Employee productivity is one of the most important ways to measure the effectiveness of your office space.


The Anderson Group helps small businesses do business. To learn more about available noise-reducing methods or to view The Anderson Group’s portfolio of commercial office space, contact Susan Touhey at 518-458-7726 or stouhey@tagny.com.

 

 

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Satellite Office Space – 3 Good Reasons to Branch Out

albany ny office space

Consider satellite office space in Albany, NY

Thinking of establishing a satellite office space? You’re not alone. Businesses large and small consider the Capital Region a branch-office destination due, in part, to our tech-friendly environment and proximity to state government decision-makers.

A smaller office space located away from your company’s main office can serve a number of important purposes, including establishing a presence in a new marketplace, staking your claim in an existing marketplace and/or setting up short-term project space.

Visibility

A satellite office can help your company reach into new territory and meet unfulfilled demands for what you make or do. For example, if your office or franchise is located downstate, but market trends show a need for physical presence upstate, a satellite office will give you the address and professional workspace you need to enter the market.

Permanence

Maybe your company got its start in western New York, but you’ve built a considerable following in the Albany market. Now your clientele wants closer proximity to your services and employees. Establish some permanence in their area with a satellite office that meets your clients’ needs and enables your company to serve them more efficiently and effectively.

Proximity

Have a big project here in Albany, but headquartered in another state or region? Consider a temporary satellite office to serve your needs until project completion. A satellite office cuts down on travel to and from your project and allows you to allocate resources where they’re needed most. Many property management companies will be happy to work with you on a short-term lease.

Susan Touhey, partner at The Anderson Company, says although leasing additional office space means some additional work, many companies find that the benefits of a satellite office more than make up for it.

“We’re finding that more and more companies are looking for flexible office space and terms to meet a specific or short-term need,” Touhey says. “The Capital Region has a number of important business corridors, and satellite offices in those locations give out-of-town companies close access to them.”

 


To learn more about The Anderson Group’s portfolio of commercial office space, including executive suites, contact Susan Touhey at 518-458-7726 or stouhey@tagny.com.

 

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To buy or to lease office space? That is the question.

125 Wolf Road Albany NY Office SpaceThe pros and cons of buying and leasing office space.

If you’re considering new office space to upgrade, downsize, relocate or expand your business, you’re faced with making one of two choices: purchasing a building or leasing space in one that someone else owns. Which one is right for you and your business?

Your decision ultimately comes down to your business finances and a realistic plan for where it’s heading over the next decade. Here are a few other things to consider:

Benefits of Leasing

  • Tax deductions. If you lease commercial office space, you can deduct lease payments on your taxes, saving you some money on the back end.
  • Repairs and maintenance. When you lease, the landlord is typically responsible for keeping your building in good shape and working order. Be sure to clarify who is responsible for repairs and maintenance when you enter lease negotiations.
  • Location, location, location. Leasing in prime business corridors can be a lot less costly than buying in these areas.

Benefits of Buying

  • Tax deductions. Although you can’t deduct full mortgage payments on your taxes, you can deduct your mortgage interest payments. Every little bit helps.
  • Build equity. When you buy, you’ll build equity, which can be used to grow your business in the future.
  • Income potential. If your building has more space than you need right now, you can rent out the extra space and pay down your mortgage more quickly.

Disadvantages of Leasing

  • Lease increases. When you lease office space, you may be subject to annual or term lease increases that are out of your control and hit your bottom line. Be sure to discuss lease increases with your landlord when entering lease negotiations.
  • Lack of control. If your aesthetic is modern, but your landlord’s is mid-70s department store, your surroundings may not adequately reflect your brand or feel like “home.” As a tenant, you might not have a say in property improvements and decor.
  • Growth concerns. If you plan to lease office space in an existing building, discuss the potential for future expansion and growth with your landlord. Many building owners are more than happy to accommodate and plan for future growth and changing space needs.

Disadvantages of Buying

  • Loss of flexibility. Your business – and business needs – will change over the next decade, from fluctuations in staffing and client loads to course corrections in business strategy. Owning a property can tie you to a location and decrease your flexibility.
  • If you’re a business owner, you already expend a lot of time and energy on maintaining and building your business. Add the stress of maintaining a building to your to-do list, and you’ve more than doubled your commitment.
  • Financial commitment. Purchasing real estate is a major financial commitment requiring a hefty down payment. If your business will take a hit due to a shift in resources, buying might not be your best option.

If you’re thinking of buying or leasing your next office space, contact The Anderson Group. We provide full-service commercial property management and office space leasing – from general facility management and maintenance to housekeeping, landscaping and office space planning.


For more information or to view properties in our portfolio, contact Susan Touhey at 518-458-7726 or stouhey@tagny.com.

 

 

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Workplace Water Efficiency. Quick tips to save water and money.

workplace water efficiencyThe summer months are upon us, and July’s heat and humidity are taking a toll…from droopy landscaping to cranked-up air conditioning units. It all adds up to a strong case for money saving water-efficiency practices in the workplace.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, commercial and institutional buildings account for 17 percent of the nation’s yearly water consumption. In addition, over the past decade, water and wastewater rates have risen “at a rate well above the consumer price index.” The EPA warns that as municipal water systems age, building owners can expect water costs to increase to offset the cost of replacement.

The good news? There are some simple, cost-effective measures you can employ to conserve water and save on operating costs in your commercial building. The three biggest culprits when it comes to water usage in office buildings are restrooms, landscaping and HVAC equipment.

RESTROOM UPGRADES

Did you know that something as simple as a leaky toilet can waste as much as 21,600 gallons of water per month? That can cost up to $2,100 per year. Toilet and urinal flushing typically account for one-third of a commercial building’s water consumption.

Inspecting restroom faucets and other fixtures for leaks is a simple, yet impactful way to make sure you aren’t flushing water (and money) down the drain. You can also replace bathroom fixtures with more efficient models, such as low-flow or ultra-low-flow models. Look for plumbing fixtures certified by the EPA’s WaterSense Program. Certified products use 20% less water without compromising performance and include water-saving toilets and high-efficiency faucets.

OUTDOOR WATER USE

We’ve all seen it: A sprinkler system aimed directly at pavement or going full tilt during a rainstorm. The fact is, landscaping water usage can account for 20% of your facility’s water consumption, making it a great area to target when looking to conserve water and lower your bill.

There are a number of practices you can employ to conserve water outdoors and save money in the process, including using native plants, reducing grassy areas, weather-based and seasonal irrigation schedules (adding a rain sensor on your irrigation system and watering less on cooler days) and installing WaterSense-certified irrigation products. Even something as simple as fitting your hoses with automatic shut-off nozzles and spreading mulch around landscaping can save water and reduce evaporation.

HVAC COOLING SYSTEMS

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, water used in HVAC cooling towers accounts for almost all of an HVAC system’s water consumption.

The fact is, all cooling towers lose water through evaporation, drift (water lost when water droplets are transported in exhaust air), and blowdown (water drained from cooling equipment to remove mineral build-up) and, therefore, consume a significant amount of water. Keep your cooling towers in good working condition through regular inspection and maintenance so your system operates at peak efficiency.

workplace water efficiency

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, WaterSense program

Other ideas for conserving cooling tower water include investing in cooling towers that use recycled water, such as storm water and using cooling tower blowdown to water your landscaping.

Develop a Water Management Plan

It’s good practice to routinely monitor your facility’s water usage. If things seem off or you’re paying more than you anticipated paying, there’s a good chance you have efficiencies that can be corrected.

Develop a workplace water efficiency water management plan to cut down on water usage and trim your water bill. Because leaks are a major culprit, they should be one of the first things you look for. Check regularly for leaks and make repairs as quickly as possible. Swap your outdated fixtures for water-efficient ones. Adjust your landscape-maintenance routine based on seasonal and daily weather changes. A few minor adjustments can add up to major cost savings and help the environment in the process.


The Anderson Group knows small businesses. To inquire about commercial properties in The Anderson Group portfolio, contact Susan Touhey at 518-458-7726 or stouhey@tagny.com.

 

 

 

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