W Group prepped for workers’ office comeback

Philippine real estate firms have prepared for the influx of workers as mobility restrictions imposed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic have eased. But few building owners have worked as hard and as swiftly as the W Group during the pandemic to ready their office towers for the eventual return of the workforce.

“We took the opportunity during the lockdowns, when there were fewer people in our buildings, to improve our facilities as well as our safety and health protocols,” said Norman Vincent Wee, president of the W Group.

“At the height of the pandemic, we equipped our buildings with facial recognition systems to lessen human contact among employees and guests,” said Francis Wee, CEO of the W Group.

“We also added metal detector scanners that could detect body temperature at the buildings’ entrance and we regularly sanitized and disinfected common areas with the use of UV lighting, making it a more seamless experience for our tenants,” he noted.

With NCR being placed under Alert Level 1, the majority of the workers especially in the service industry are returning to offices in various central business districts, having work-from-home arrangements merely an option as vaccination numbers rise, infections decline, and the government warns business process outsourcing and information technology companies they might lose their tax privileges if they do not return to the workplace.

Creating safer spaces with new technology

W Group president Norman Wee said that even parking facilities and elevators have been equipped with new technology to allow for faster ingress and egress of vehicles to quicken the movement of people. He even mentioned that the easing of restrictions is a step closer to coexisting with the virus.

As such whichever decisions their tenants would consider with respect to their work arrangements, W Group’s towers are a safe space for them to do their business. “We cannot let our guard down since the country is not yet COVID free, however, we need to adapt to the changes. I can say that one of W Group’s current priorities is the safety of our tenants, that’s why we had to pull out all the stops for these adjustments in our buildings,” he added.

W CityCenter, one of W Group’s many properties in Bonifacio Global City, is designed by globally renowned New York-based architectural firm, CAZA.

He said that since many of their multinational tenants are using their buildings as headquarters, these towers have been designed to meet and even exceed global standards.

More real estate developments have been lined up by the W Group, with company president Wee expecting more demand for office spaces given the social distancing requirements following the pandemic.

W Group is also expanding outside the Bonifacio Global City and building logistics hubs outside Metro Manila in preparation for even faster economic growth post-pandemic.

The W Group owns and operates several office buildings in BGC, including W Fifth Avenue, Citi Plaza, and W CityCenter.

At the start of the pandemic in 2020, the group constructed a distribution center in Tarlac.

W Group also has an industrial park in Malvar, Batangas, and a 10-hectare property in Santa Rosa City, Laguna.