Reporter: How has the SkyTower business been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, in the context of telecommuting?
Adriana Drăgoescu: The pandemic has really transformed the working model. Most of them have switched to teleworking and we see a low degree of presence at the office, both in the Capital and throughout the country. It is a situation that will continue until the vaccination campaign reaches a high level of immunization in the population, which will allow us all to carry out our activities.
We have all adapted to the health and social context, and within SkyTower we have implemented all the necessary measures to provide a safe workspace, in a controlled environment. We have quite a few colleagues who continue to come to the office by rotation according to the schedule established by the companies.
In terms of occupancy, we have kept a constant of 94% since the beginning of the pandemic, and during the past year three tenants have maintained their decision to expand through the additional spaces contracted before the pandemic.
Reporter: What was the strategy taken at SkyTower level to overcome the current situation more easily?
Adriana Drăgoescu: The first measure taken last year was to make sure that SkyTower complies with the prevention and safety rules. It was the premise from which we started for SkyTower to be fully functional and operational and, last but not least, a safe place for colleagues who want or need to be present at the office. Then, we maintained a continuous dialogue with our tenants, in order to respond promptly to any needs and reduce the psychological pressure induced by the pandemic, especially during the lockdown period.
Therefore, we have developed a series of projects and tools to support the SkyTower community. We needed communication and interaction, adapted to the new conditions. In this regard, last year we implemented Spaceflow, a mobile application dedicated exclusively to SkyTower tenants. Spaceflow offers fast digital connection to a variety of services and facilities, keeping the life of the community vibrant.
Last year we also started the SkyCreatives program, an open-source program for young artists to whom we want to offer an iconic place where they can work and express their creativity. The launch of SkyCreatives is just one step in SkyTower's strategy to support and grow both the arts and business communities.
We also get involved at the social level, through donations and support from local NGOs. For example, to symbolically mark the events or social causes we support. There are steps that open us to the general public. We want to break down the business barriers considered rigid. We want to inspire and be inspired by our community.
Reporter: Were leases canceled last year?
Adriana Drăgoescu: We have a constant dialogue with our tenants, and during this period the relations have been strengthened even more, in a collaboration to cover the new needs imposed by the pandemic. Last year the constant collaboration and communication between us has also been seen in the absence of requests to give up offices or reduce space.
Reporter: How has the demand in the office market evolved in the last year?
Adriana Drăgoescu: We must first consider the use of office space, both in the Capital and in the country. There were several turning points during the past year. The release of the measures at the beginning of the summer, then in September showed us that the presence of the employees at the office had a recovery. However the statistics show us that they did not stimulate the new rents. There are also good examples in the market, both for contract renewals and pre-leases for buildings completed in 2020 or in the process of completion, especially in the case of premium projects, with a high degree of flexibilit. From here a trend can be seen, which will partially define the office market.
The beginning of this year came with several rental transactions, in premium and / or new buildings, especially in the business area in the north of the Capital. Meanwhile, there are also sublease offers from large companies, with a high percentage of employees working from home. It will be a necessary to balance the market until the measures are released.
Reporter: What are the new features of the 2020 applications?
Adriana Drăgoescu: The pandemic has changed our perspective and needs, and since 2020 the safety norms implemented by office buildings matter a lot to tenants in the decision to rent new spaces. The measures, efforts and strategy of an office building will most likely be in the top three criteria in making a decision. Telework has become a constant, and the ability to flexibly and reorganize spaces to provide distance is also important. In the end, there is no solution given by large companies in connection with global or regional policies, but I think the winning approach will still be a constructive dialogue.
Reporter: How has the office market evolved in the context of the pandemic?
Adriana Drăgoescu: The local office market had, in 2020, a surprising evolution. While the level of use and the volume of new leases suddenly compressed, in the second quarter, the level of investment increased compared to the previous year. It is true that this is due to large transactions, but this shows us that investors trust Romania and the quality of the local office market.
Reporter: What are its prospects?
Adriana Drăgoescu: Companies looking for new offices do not have the pressure of immediate renting, They can choose spaces suitable for their needs, while most large companies, which contract tens of thousands of square meters, are already installed and will remain in those spaces in the medium term. At the same time, there is an accentuation of the sublease trend, which will help to stabilize the office sector.
What is certain is that in the final decision to take over a space, the importance of ensuring safety rules and a high degree of comfort for employers and building owners have been observed.
Reporter: Are you going to start new projects in this field?
Adriana Drăgoescu: At the moment, the local real estate market presents interesting opportunities, which means that there are investment possibilities.
Regarding the RPHI plans in Romania, our main objective is to continue the development of SkyTower's business and communities, through investments in innovations and projects that support the company's growth strategy in the local market.
Reporter: Thank you!
More details about Spaceflow in Poland: Online Real Assets