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Troubles Stir Quest for Backup Offices

By on Jul 19, 2010 in Office

Published on Bangkok Post dated 18 July By Nina Suebsukcharoen

During what some fear may only be a lull in sporadic civil unrest, a Bangkok commercial property services adviser gives tips that could ward off potential calamity.

Strong fears of more violence breaking out on Bangkok streets have led to many foreign companies identifying buildings farther away from the central business district to use in future emergencies, according to Nithipat Tongpun,executive director of CB Richard Ellis.

Although those working within the country realise that the situation is probably manageable, top executives at the overseas head offices of multinational and other foreign companies in Thailand are still disturbed by the images they saw of the violence in Bangkok in April and May.

“Many companies have asked us to prepare information on what is available in the northern part of the city and to the east,” said Mr Nithipat. He added that Thai companies generally are not on the hunt for backup space, partly because many local businesses own their own buildings, while smaller operations might work out of homes.

“For those who have called and those we’ve held discussions with, our advice is that they should quickly work this out now because if something happens they could then proceed swiftly.”

He said companies were mainly looking at office buildings along Chaeng Watthana Road in the northern zone and the Bang Na area in the east. They are not focusing on areas such as Ratchadaphisek Road that are seen to be a bit too close to the central area that was hit by violence in May.

“For example, if you had moved to Sukhumvit when the unrest broke out in Ratchaprasong, you might have had to move a second time,” said Mr Nithipat.

“I have seen equal demand for Bang Na and Chaeng Watthana,” said Mr Nithipat,and in fact some companies are looking to rent backup offices at both Chaeng Watthana and Bang Na as this would make it easy for staff who live in either of the two zones to get to work.

Buildings where companies are looking to rent backup offices do not necessarily have to be Grade A, but they do need to have full facilities and be convenient to reach close to train lines or the expressway.

Bang Na is near Suvarnabhumi Airport,but that doesn’t give it an edge over Chaeng Watthana because the focus is more on access for the ordinary worker.

Noting that computer file servers are the very heart of a business, Mr Nithipat said it was important for companies to make sure that the servers at their current office are able to function no matter what happens.

“The backup generators that most buildings have are for the common areas and not for tenants. Only some buildings have prepared generators specially for tenants, and this is good for those buildings. From now on tenants will be looking to see whether the building has a spare generator for them to rent in an emergency,” he said.

“Here at CB Richard Ellis [at All Seasons Place], when the troubles erupted our server was in this building but we couldn’t get in.So we moved to Bitec, and were able to reach our server from there. We were lucky power to this building wasn’t cut so we were able to use our server normally, but even if power had been cut, All Seasons Place has a separate backup generator for tenants.”

He said that only five or six buildings in the city have a spare generator for tenants,but some buildings are able to share extra power from the generators they have installed for their common areas with their tenants. In addition, big companies such as banks, financial firms and stock traders usually already own their own generators.

Mr Nithipat warned that companies that have two offices should make sure that the electricity supply to both doesn’t come from the same grid. There are several power grids in Bangkok and some overlap in the inner city.

“Careful thought has to be given to the main location. Some companies have rented space in two to three buildings within the same district or neighbouring ones and when something happens such as the recent unrest,they can’t do anything at all.”

Mr Nithipat said that landlords should ensure that there is a contact person on each floor to help companies and their staff get out of the building in case of dire trouble.Landlords should also make sure that there is a secure fence around the perimeter of the building to slow down protesters who might want to break in.

It is also imperative to have a single point of access, with guards in place to exchange cards with all visitors.

“Right nowmany buildings are installing turnstiles – that’s where you press the card to get in. I think this is very important and tenants are also seeing it to be important.”

Buildings that have three to four access points, some of which allow tenants and visitors to get to the lifts without passing guards, are clearly compromising security.

“Tenants and landlords have to know where the visitor is going. Tenants usually have a card, but we don’t know anything about visitors and we have to find out,” said Mr Nithipat.

“It is essential for tenants to look into this,because when it comes to terrorism, there will be ups and downs continuously from now on.”

He also advised landlords that in addition to ensuring that tenants have adequate power backup, they themselves also must have sufficient emergency support because they hold vital information about tenants which could be needed in certain situations.

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