Like so many other buildings in Massachusetts, the NonProfit Center was forced to close in early March as the first wave of COVID-19 swept across the state. TSNE, as the owner/operator and a tenant of the building knew how important it was to immediately notify the more than 50 organizations that occupy the NonProfit Center about the decision to close.
Our Property Management team, which has grown their service line and now manages several buildings in Boston and Cambridge including the NonProfit Center, were able to provide support that understood and prioritized the needs of our nonprofit tenants.
Supporting Our Community of Nonprofits
In order to ensure that tenants had time to close-up their offices and transition to remote work, Faisal Abid, Director of Property Services, closely assisted organizations with their planning during this critical time. While the building was closed, our Property Services team rotated an on-site skeleton crew and maintained advanced cleaning procedures to ensure the safety of tenants that needed continued to access their offices.
Like the rest of the NonProfit Center tenants, TSNE’s nearly 70 employees began the transition to remote work at the start of this crisis in March. We implemented a rapid response team comprised of cross-departmental leadership to discuss not only how to adjust to this new normal, but also how to manage and maintain the NonProfit Center. Some issues were more straightforward, such as finding the best ways to ensure that the building was a safe and well-sanitized place for essential working staff. Other issues required a different approach – keeping tenants informed through regular and timely communication.
As the situation continued to shift and evolve, local, state, and federal guidelines continued to change, often leaving employees with questions on how best to stay safe. TSNE sought to distill the often confusing and sometimes conflicting regulations, best practices, and health and safety protocols into easily digestible and implementable lists to help keep tenants and employees, no matter where they were, safe and informed. Soon after launching a comprehensive communications initiative, these regular updates were shared with all NonProfit Center tenants and made available on our website.
Connecting Our Community to Assistance
Once the Paycheck Protection Program came into play, TSNE, in partnership with a few large foundations in the Boston area, began to provide free technical one-on-one application assistance for all who needed it. We helped our tenants apply for the Paycheck Protection Program, reviewed financials, and looked to see what additional support we could provide. The extension of these supports helped our tenants remain in place and set them up for success while the uncertainty of the pandemic continued. The active role TNSE took with our tenants and the sector at large was built upon our experience, as we received active and real-time feedback from the nonprofits we were helping and had a greater understanding of their needs. We integrated these needs into real-time solutions and, ultimately, built stronger relationships with our tenants and the broader nonprofit sector.
As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, we have worked with our tenants on rent abatement programs that provide rent relief in an equitable manner. This has allowed us to keep our tenants in their offices as we continue to support them in the ongoing pandemic.
Ensuring the Safety of Our Tenants
The Nonprofit Center remained open in a limited capacity until mid-August when Massachusetts created phased re-opening guidelines and processes. Our Property Services team ensured that the NPC could begin opening the building in stages commensurate with the state’s recommendations and that other health and safety protocols could be maintained, as people returned to their offices. Surprisingly, only a small number of tenants returned. Currently, the majority of the Nonprofit Center’s tenants continue to work remotely.
Through our experience, we have learned that frequent and relevant communication, responding to tenant concerns, and anticipating future tenant needs are the most effective ways to manage through this pandemic. These are valuable lessons to bring forward into our work in the future. While there will be more to learn before this pandemic is over, one thing is certain: TSNE will continue to adapt and change to ensure we do what’s best for our tenants and our sector as a whole.
Read more about how our different departments responded to COVID-19 in these blog posts: