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LI, NY companies try flexibility during train tracks repairs

David Harouche, founder and CEO of Multimedia Plus,

David Harouche, founder and CEO of Multimedia Plus, in his New Hyde Park facility on Feb. 12, 2015. Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Executives at companies with offices on Long Island and Manhattan say they have been preparing to deal with any potential Long Island Rail Road service disruptions.

The MTA had been urging major firms to offer employees alternative hours and work locations during Amtrak’s planned track repairs at Penn Station, which are expected to last until Sept. 1.

David Harouche, founder and chief executive of Multimedia Plus, a company in Manhattan and New Hyde Park that develops mobile apps to communicate and train employees in retail, restaurant and hospitality industries, said his Manhattan office was affected by people arriving late due to train problems, and leaving early “in order to make it home at a decent hour.”

Multimedia Plus has 20 employees, including seven who commute from Long Island to Manhattan. Of those seven, four who normally work in New Hyde Park once a week now plan to work additional days on Long Island.

“Afternoons will be hard as they’ve canceled a bunch of trains during rush hour,” Harouche said.

About a dozen employees who occasionally reverse-commute from Manhattan to the headquarters of 1-800-Flowers.com in Carle Place can work from the company’s office in Manhattan if the LIRR poses troubles, said 1-800-Flowers spokesman Joseph D. Pititto.

“We want to give people flexibility,” said Pititto, whose company has more than 300 people working in Carle Place. “We are fortunate to have this office in Manhattan.”

Employees at Jericho-based accounting firm Grassi & Co. have the option to work from home, work at a different office or arrive at a different time, said David M. Rottkamp, not-for-profit practice leader and partner-in-charge of the Manhattan office, where about 25 percent of the 70 employees commute from Long Island.

Still, employees need to keep the needs of the company in mind. Latecomers “could be late for business meetings,” said Rottkamp, who commutes from Bay Shore on the LIRR. “It could affect deadlines and jeopardize a project or a service done for a client.”

Barry Ritholtz, chairman and chief investment officer of Manhattan investment advisory firm Ritholtz Wealth Management, said his employees can work remotely. The firm has 14 employees around the country, including 11 in Manhattan. Three employees commute daily from Long Island, and another two travel weekly into Manhattan.

“The LIRR mess is inconvenient to us but doesn’t slow down our productivity — new technology triumphing over old tech,” Ritholtz said.

Nevertheless it is challenging for organizations to deal with late or absent employees, said Rob Basso, president of Freeport-based Advantage Payroll Services. In some cases tardiness is also costing hourly employees’ some pay.

“It is going to be a very difficult summer,” Basso said.

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