Odd Hours: Building Operations Outside of the 8 to 5

December 9, 2021 | By: Alec Burchett

At the end of the business day around 5:00 P.M., everyone is usually on their way out the door. Buildings clear out and shut down for the evening awaiting the opportunity to come back to life when tenants next return. However, this tranquil thought is not always how reality plays out. Oftentimes, tenants tend to operate outside of normal business hours and must treated in the same fashion as other tenants.

When tenants operate outside of normal business hours, the systems needed for their spaces have to remain on while the remainder of the building stays off. This is not the way buildings and their systems are designed to function. Buildings are not meant to only have a single space operating at a given time. This causes a variety of problems for the building. Security and additional staff may need to be employed to maintain and manage the building outside normal hours. The building’s systems now have to be run outside of their normal operating capacity accounting for extra expenses such as utilities as well as shortening the life of equipment used in the building. Every scenario is different and will present its own unique sets of issues to overcome. For these reasons, lease requirements should state how these situations should be handled in order to provide the best work environment for the tenant and provide appropriate care for the building.

There are many reasons that a tenant might operate outside of the typical 9-5, but there are quite a few common businesses that take to this practice. Lawyers often stay late at night for weeks leading up to a major case. Financial companies also frequently stay later than others throughout different seasons of the year. These groups will be carrying out normal operations at an abnormal hour and will therefore need all systems that would normally be available to them. An easy solution is to meter individual floors or suites of the property. This way, undue expense is not incurred for other tenants, and the tenants staying later are appropriately charged for keeping the building operating for solely themselves.

Another common business observed operating under odd hours are data and call centers. These operations may not even operate outside of normal hours, but because of factors such as large server or IT rooms, electricity is needed 24 hours a day. These systems also generate a large amount of heat so in house “spot coolers” are often implemented. While the server rooms may be cooled down, Chris Lelle, a chief engineer with Lincoln Property Company, explained how all that heat does not simply disappear. Often it travels into the ceiling and is circulated around making other areas of the building much hotter. This will inconvenience the other tenants and create stress for the building and its mechanical systems as they will have to work harder to get the building cooled down.

Every odd hours situation is unique and must be handled in the correct way. This can prove to be much more difficult than simply operating the building throughout the rest of the day. There have been cases where building owners have taken shortcuts and caused themselves further issues down the line. Entire buildings have been left operating 24/7 simply to account for a single tenant that works a night shift. While it may be easier to do things this way, there is danger in these shortcuts as they will quickly empty your pockets. So, whatever your specific after-hours tenant situation may be, make sure to take the time and work out all of the specifics if you want to keep your building, your tenants, and your finances as comfortable as you can.


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