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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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10 Simple Ways to Reduce Office Waste

Save money, save time, save the planet. reduce office waste

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. commercial and manufacturing activities are responsible for as much as 45% of the 150 million tons of waste the country generates each year. In addition, transporting and burning this waste creates greenhouse gases and other pollutants.

What is your business or office building doing to reduce office waste and its carbon footprint? If the task of managing and reducing office waste seems daunting, fear not. The reality is that it’s not difficult at all. And small changes can add up to big dividends.

Consider these 10 simple tips to help your company and office building improve waste management operations, reduce costs and enhance sustainability.

1. Buy Recycled Paper

It’s an easy first step: Purchase chlorine-free paper with recycled content. According to RecycleWorks, buying 20 cases of recycled paper saves 17 trees, 390 gallons of oil, 7000 gallons of water, and 4100 kwh of energy, in addition to eliminating 60 pounds of air-polluting emissions and 8 cubic feet of landfill space.

2. Get Comfortable Going Paperless

Before you hit “print,” determine if it’s something you really need on paper. Can it just as easily sit on your hard drive for access when needed? Much of what we print at the office is set aside and then discarded without a second glance.

3. Reuse Boxes and Packing Material

When you get a shipment, save the box and packing materials to use when you have a shipment going out. You can also shred old documents and reuse them as packing material.

4. Buy Used or Remanufactured Furniture

In the market for office furniture? Check Craigslist for inexpensive used furniture, or purchase like-new remanufactured furniture at a fraction of the cost from a dealer near you.

5. Reduce Your Junk Mail

Take a periodic look at the junk mail your office receives. Unsubscribe from lists and publications you no longer need. Call companies and advertisers and tell them to remove you from mailing lists. And make the switch to digital delivery of publications and newsletters you still want.

6. Reduce or Replace Paper and Styrofoam Coffee Cups

Consider getting rid of your company’s supply of disposable cups and encourage employees to bring in their own reusable mugs.

7. Replace or Properly Dispose of Your Single-Use Batteries

Invest in rechargeable batteries and battery chargers for small office devices like cameras. It’s less expensive over time and much better for the environment. If you do stick with single-use batteries, be sure to dispose of them properly.

8. Buy Recycled Toner Cartridges

Save money (typically 15% to 50% per order) and landfill waste when you buy toner cartridges that have been refurbished and refilled. When the toner runs out, simply package up your cartridge and send it back to the manufacturer for reuse. Contrary to popular belief, remanufactured ink cartridges do not damage your print heads or result in poor print quality.

9. Make Paperless Payments

Ask vendors to send your bills electronically. Online billing is greener, quicker and more secure than paying by mail. According to PayItGreen.org, a 20% reduction in paper-based billing cuts gas consumption by 102,945,600 gallons, prevents nearly 2 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions and saves 1,811,275 trees.

10. Make the Switch to Compact Fluorescents

When your light bulbs burn out, consider replacing them with compact fluorescent bulbs. They’re more energy efficient and last longer than traditional bulbs, which saves money and the environment.

Dave Eck, maintenance manager with The Anderson Group, says commercial property managers who understand the benefits of sustainability programs reap rewards in terms of tenant loyalty and the bottom line.

“We practice energy efficiency throughout our property portfolio, and we help our tenants save money with Smart Office Audits. We helped one company save $50,000 by retrofitting their light fixtures,” says Dave Eck, maintenance manager with The Anderson Group. “Successful waste management needs to be an ongoing, well-publicized, company-wide initiative.”


The Anderson Group helps keep your business running. For information about commercial property management services or available commercial properties in our portfolio, contact Susan Touhey at 518-458-7726 or stouhey@tagny.com.

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Commercial Office Lease Terminology 101: What to know before you sign on the dotted line

commerical office leaseYou’ve found commercial office space, and you’re ready to sign your lease. But before you do, make sure you’ve done your homework.

Whether you’ve hired an attorney to help you negotiate or you’re a seasoned professional going it alone, it’s a good idea to brush up on your commercial office lease terminology. Here’s a quick primer on common lease types and commercial office lease terms and what they do – and don’t – mean.

Common Area Maintenance (CAM)

Common area maintenance costs derive from the care of building areas that are used by all tenants. CAM areas can include spaces such as hallways, lobbies, restrooms, sidewalks and parking lots. Your lease should spell out the CAM areas (and related maintenance services, such as snow plowing, landscaping, etc.) included in your rent.

Double Net Lease (NN)

A double net lease incorporates taxes and insurance into your lease payment, but the landlord is responsible for paying maintenance costs.

Gross Lease

When you sign a gross lease, you agree to pay for your space’s square footage, and your landlord agrees to pay for all other operating expenses, including utilities, maintenance, insurance and property taxes.

Leasable Area

“Leaseable area” is a blend of your office square footage plus a percentage of the square footage in the building’s common areas.

Improvements and Alterations

If you plan to customize or otherwise alter your leased space, make certain that you and your landlord are on the same page about who is responsible for doing the work, how long the work will take, and who will pay for it. You will also want to iron out how the changes you plan to make will impact your rent now and in the future.

Insurance

Your landlord may require you to carry insurance to supplement policies they carry on your building. It’s a good idea to discuss your insurance needs with your insurance agent before you sign a lease. To learn more about commercial insurance needs, see Commercial Renters Insurance: Does Your Small Business Need It?

Maintenance and Utilities

This clause spells out your responsibility to maintain your leased space. Are you responsible for paying utilities or are they included in your rent? Is routine maintenance covered under your lease terms? How about housekeeping services? This section of your lease should answer these types of questions.

Net Lease

A net lease includes your cost per square foot, as well as some costs associated with daily operation of the property, including common area maintenance (CAM) costs, utilities, insurance and property taxes.

Permitted Use

The permitted, or general, use clause will define how you are allowed to use your leased space. Permitted use will depend upon a number of factors, including building location and zoning laws, but might include such uses as manufacturing, retail and food service. Communicate your business as fully as possible when searching for space to ensure that your prospective landlord and prospective office space can meet your needs.

Premises

The premises clause should clearly define the space you’ll be leasing. In addition to physical office space, for example, your lease may give you access to common areas, such as conference rooms, break rooms, parking lots and storage rooms.

Renewal Option

You may have a renewal clause in your lease giving you the right to extend your lease term. The renewal clause should include a start and end date and specify rent costs.

Term

The term clause states your lease start and end dates. Although it seems like a no-brainer, be sure to read the fine print. Some lease terms begin the date you sign the lease; others begin upon move-in. Be sure the lease you’re signing defines your start date so you know when you can move in and when rent begins.

Triple Net Lease (NNN)

A triple net lease is a lease agreement where the tenant (or lessee) is responsible for the property’s ongoing expenses, including real estate taxes, building insurance, and maintenance, in addition to paying rent and utilities.

Signing a lease is a big step for your business, so it pays to make sure you know what you’re signing before you put your name to it.

“Don’t be afraid to ask your landlord to walk you through your lease, and be sure to ask questions along the way,” says Willard Anderson, partner at The Anderson Group. “A reputable landlord and a fair lease have nothing to hide.”


The Anderson Group helps keep your small business running. For information about commercial property management services or available commercial properties in our portfolio, contact Susan Touhey at 518-458-7726 or stouhey@tagny.com.

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