Five-star Ambience in Business Centres: What is “Personalized Service”?

What can office real estate learn from the hospitality industry? Hotels have their own quality standards, because they need to convince guests to come again. But office workers spend much more time in business centres than guests spend in hotels, so why not take advantage of best practice in the hotel business?

All five-star hotels, especially those in the top-10 international hotel chains, offer the same level of service, wherever you are in the world. Interior design in Moscow, New York and Dubai may vary according to local tastes and cultural codes, but the service will be the same, always and everywhere. The hotel brand sets standards for corporate culture and guarantees high quality. But in other types of commercial real estate, notably offices, such a “gold standard” for quality is not available, or, at least, not yet.

People who work in business centres spend around 40 hours a week in the office, much more time than a normal guest spends in a hotel. They and their visitors are entitled to friendly and efficient service from front-desk staff (security and reception), matching what they would expect in a five-star hotel.

Reception services are the responsibility of the management company. So it is up to the management company to put in place and follow certain rules of service and corporate culture, and make sure that its staff understand their responsibility for how users and visitors perceive the building, even if they only spend half an hour there.

In Russia, such an approach sounds novel. Many of the people who work for management companies at business centres would be surprised to hear that they are in the hospitality business. Am I the only one who has seen a female receptionist doing her make-up or arranging her hair when on duty? Or to be asked, when a pass was being issued, if I could drop off some documents with the company I am visiting? Have you ever had to stand in a queue while a single receptionist deals with several guests?

This is a far cry from five-star hospitality. So why not design and apply a written set of rules for service standards that would be valid and compulsory for any company that assumes management functions in a particular building?

Clearly, that is a task for building owners. But O1 Standard, as one of the foremost Russian management companies, decided in 2020 to take steps in this direction by hiring someone with a background in the luxury hotel business as its director for standards and quality.

The standards that we have implemented at all our managed facilities are: personalized service, hospitality, friendliness, and staff who are well-trained, stress-resistant, and impeccable in their appearance. Security staff at all our facilities wear a formal suit over a white shirt. Female receptionists have standard uniforms, tidy hair, and follow a strict make-up code (right down to lipstick colour).

An individual approach to each and every user and visitor is important. We will do our best to answer any question and resolve any issue that is brought to us. Your passport, presented to our staff for ID purposes, will be returned to you with a smile, thanking you by name and wishing you a pleasant day. 

These rules are the same for all our facilities, whether in class A+, A, B+ or B. Staff of O1 Standard learn to observe the rules at special trainings held several times a year. Every four months the company carries out an internal inspection to check that service quality is being maintained: our “secret visitor” poses challenging questions to business centre staff and arranges an unusual situation (perhaps a disagreement with security or the receptionist). We rate the results using a points system to judge how well standards are being observed and whether additional training is needed. Positive feedback from tenants shows that the system is working.

For us the creation of an atmosphere where people feel happy is not about pretending to be friendly – it is our corporate philosophy and competitive advantage, of which we are proud. In a business centre, as much as in a hotel,  every regular customer has to be earned. We do everything we can to make the staff of tenant companies and their visitors keen to come back to us every day. 

O1 Standard Takes Part in CRE SWOT business event.

On November 16 the O1 Standard team led by managing partner, Dmitry Sveshnikov, took part in a special event organized  by Russia’s real estate portal, at which representative of Moscow’s leading real estate management companies compiled a SWOT analysis of the current market.

SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool used to assess the strengths and weaknesses of an organization or an entire industry, as well as opportunities and threats posed by the external environment.

In the talk he gave at the event, Dmitry focused particularly on the selection, training and adaptation of management company staff. Capable staff are in short supply and it is vital to develop the special skills that management companies need as early as possible, including work with university students who want a career in property management. The O1` Standard managing partner said that it is important to create a proactive, committed team that understands and shares the company’s goals and values. Such systematic work with staff will enhance the competitiveness of management companies and their ability to withstand market threats.

Results of the SWOT analysis are shown in the table below. For more information please visit (in Russian) 

10 signs of a green building you’ll notice right away: a checklist

The introduction of “green” technologies in the building, the importance of reducing resource consumption and creating a comfortable and safe environment for the end user are gaining ever greater importance. Many environmentally effective solutions related to the modernization of engineering systems are not necessarily visible to the regular building user.

What factors should a visitor pay attention to, and what will make it clear that you are in a “green” building? Find out in our new checklist “10 signs of a ‘green’ building that you will notice right away.”

Electrifying the Road to the Future

Business centres and transport: how the management company can make life easier for users.

Questions of transport and management of business centres intersect in at least three places: access, parking, and provision for electric cars and other eco-friendly vehicles.

Transport access is decisive for the class of a business centre. Convenient approaches for motorists are particularly important, but they are only a part of the story. Users should also be able to reach the business centre by public transport, and there must be safe and convenient pedestrian paths to the nearest metro and bus stops. Ideally, pedestrian approaches to a building should be isolated from traffic in order to ensure the safety of all road users.

A dedicated parking lot is also crucial for a quality business centre. Potential tenants will pay careful attention to parking capacity, both for their employees and for their guests, who will be unimpressed if they cannot to find a parking space. Organization of arrival and departure to the parking lot is also an indicator of quality. Class-A offices should have special access and parking arrangements for executive-class cars.

Provision for owners of electric vehicles, bicycles and scooters is a theme in itself, particularly for business centres in Moscow, where a project is underway to convert transport infrastructure to electric formats. Around 200 charging stations for electric vehicles have been installed in the Russian capital since last year and at least 600 are planned by 2023.

Facilities managed by O1 Standard are already installing fast charging stations for electric cars. In 2020, the first publicly available station was unveiled in the parking lot at the iCUBE business centre. Several more stations are being installed at the company’s facilities this year.

However, electric or not, cars clog the urban space, and the advantages of bicycles and scooters are obvious. This year electric scooters are suddenly everywhere to be seen in Moscow and O1 Standard is working to make provision for them at business centres

The green agenda for commercial real estate goes beyond the installation of charging points in business centre car parks. It is a long list of measures to improve the overall environmental efficiency of business centres. O1 Standard caries out regular audits of engineering solutions and infrastructure at its buildings for compliance with environmental standards.