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Workplace – Building new approaches

The real estate market in Romania is living the wobbly times, in consonance with everything that is happening in Romania. The growing Euro rate and the instability and unpredictable times make of Romanian consumer a more cautious one, even if this year, as a whole, the real estate market (especially the residential one) came with increasing demand and prices.

2017-12-04 17:58:12

However, there is a slice of the real estate market which keeps a steady increasing demand and that is the one of offices, where, the demand coming from IT and outsourcing sector is pacing up.

According to the recent news of real estate consultancy company Colliers, the Bucharest office market saw a net take-up of close to 45,000 sqm in this year's third quarter. According to data from the real estate consultancy company Colliers International, the demand came mostly from IT and BPO/SSC companies, including from the new entries in the market: Amazon, GoPro and Systematic.

The leasing transactions volume was lower in Q3 2017, compared with the same period last year. The gross take-up – which also includes renegotiations and renewals – stood at approximately 56,000 sqm, from 71,000 mp in 2016, due to prolonged negotiation phases of some large deals. In the same period, net take-up stood at 45,000 sqm, reaching a total of 134,000 sqm from the beginning of the year until now.

"In Q3, the net take-up was in accordance with the dynamics of the Bucharest office market, especially given that there were three new entries: Amazon, GoPro and Systematic. Therefore, the major drivers of demand were IT and BPO/SSC companies (business process outsourcing/shared services center) – 83% – followed by energy and industrial companies (6%) and banking and insurance companies (5%)", said Silviu Pop, Head of Research at Colliers International Romania.

"It is important to notice that, despite a slowdown in office leasing activity compared to 2016, the demand is still healthy, considering the fact that we are heading towards a net take-up totaling 175,000 sqm for the entire 2017", Silviu Pop highlighted.

Dimitrie Pompeiu was the most active area, with over 20,000 sqm leased or 36% of the total leased surface, while the CBD (Central Business District) recorded 25% of total, and Floreasca-Barbu Vacarescu had a 21% share.

The vacancy rate dropped to just over 9% in Q3 from nearly 12% in H1, as a consequence of the lack of new deliveries. According to a Colliers International report – Bucharest Office Market Q3 2017 – a total of up to 100,000 sqm of office space is set to be delivered this year, and in 2018, the new deliveries will amount to more than 300,000 sqm, which could mark a new post-crisis high.

Also, news of another major player on the office market in Romania, CBRE, a new record for the office market: 50% of the TLA concluded in Q3 2017 was represented by new demand
About 49% of the total leasing activity (TLA) in Q3 was represented by new demand, a record high for the local office market, CBRE data reveals. This is also a record for the past years, this because new demand is about 20-25% on quarterly analysis.
The total leasing activity in the July-September period amounted to 75,000 sqm, with the consequent total volume of transactions registered from the beginning of 2017 reaching 251,000 sqm. Throughout the first nine months, the highest demand levels were recorded in North and
Pipera sub-markets, followed by the Central and West sub-markets.

Silviu Pop, Head of Research at Colliers International Romania: Despite a slowdown in office leasing activity compared to 2016, the demand is still healthy"

In addition, the take-up (total leasing activity excluding renewal/ renegotiation) represented 84 per cent of TLA in Q3 2017 and 69 per cent in the first nine months of the year. In the first nine months, about 28 per cent of the transactions were concluded in Pipera area, followed by North, with 25 per cent of the transactions, while in CBD was 16 per cent of the total TLA.

IT&C sector accounted for 78 per cent of the TLA in the office spaces in the third quarter, followed by professional services, with 10 per cent.

IT and technological infrastructure, leading the talks about the workplace

The constant evolution of the office concept is gradual, as office buildings tend to change in tune with tenants' needs and demands, according to Sorin Visoianu, Country Manager Operations Romania at Immofinanz. "It can be said that companies from the IT&C and outsourcing industries continue to drive the demand for premium office spaces. As the labour market in these sectors is increasingly competitive, companies are more and more focused on attracting and keeping talent. This translates into a strong focus of tenants on the needs and wellbeing of their employees, and office spaces play a crucial part in this," Sorin Visoianu states.

In this context, offices have become more than workplaces. "They have become a platform through which businesses can display their values, promote their culture and share their story.
Landlords who understand this shift in tenants' philosophy and have the flexibility to translate this into customized office spaces will be a step ahead of the market. At Immofinanz this is a core view and we are working hard to ensure that all our existing and future properties are designed to answer the ever-evolving needs of tenants,"Sorin Visoianu says and details: "An example in this sense is our international office brand, myhive, which we have already rolled-out in several core markets of IMMOFINANZ. myhive offices are particularly effective in providing employees with a pleasant and socially-oriented environment, equipped with a vast range of services, something which tenant companies have begun to appreciate. myhive is centered around providing four main benefits: a hotel-inspired design, attentive service, lively infrastructure, and access to an international community."


Focusing on green

As the Immofinanz manager also says, indeed, there is a constant, visible shift towards energy efficiency on the local office sector, with developers understanding the value of providing modern, energy and money-saving spaces. "Green buildings are definitely the sustainable offices of the future, something which we are applying in all our office projects, from the new developments such as myhive Metroffice, to our standing properties, which we constantly invest in and improve. For us, the fact that we are part of a large international company is a distinct advantage, as it offers us direct access to state-of-the-art international know-how and best practice sharing is always taking place between the markets we are present on," Sorin Visoianu says. Referring to our state-of-the-art office project myhive Metroffice, there are several examples of modern, top quality solutions which can increase energy efficiency in office buildings. As such, in order to limit the amount of energy needed for heating and cooling, the glass facade of the buildings have extra insulation and windows with good shading characteristics. Rainwater and recycled grey water is used to irrigate the lawn in front of the building and on the roof of the building. Plans also call for LEED certification – including, among others, a "green", planted roof, to help control the heat island effect.

Sorin Visoianu, Country Manager Operations Romania at Immofinanz: "A company's office spaces are and will continue to be a crucial element in that company's identity and business."

According to the Immofinanz manager, the local market, particularly in large cities such as Bucharest, is evolving in a rapid pace, and adopting new technologies at an increased rhythm. This applies to both companies and people. This being said, there is still much to be done in the "smart city" sector, but we believe Romania will, at some point, follow on the trends already adopted in other European countries.

Working from home?

The Immofinanz manager answers that "it is safe to say that many of the latest office trends are already visible, in various degrees, on the Romanian market. As the majority of tenants who drive the demand for office space in Bucharest are local subsidiaries of large international companies, it is natural that they expect the same quality level from all their headquarters around the world. Tenants' demands have certainly contributed to increasing the standards of the local office space offer, as premium developers continuously invest in their properties." According to Sorin Visoianu, while remote working has gained some popularity in Romania, a company's office spaces are and will continue to be a crucial element in that company's identity and business. It is important to note that organizations have started to acknowledge that a thoughtful, progressive work environment can reflect brand value, while improving health and productivity, innovation and collaboration within a team. As such, office buildings are beginning to reflect this shift in views, and say something about the tenant's business. "Office spaces already are part of value creation, helping to recruit, enforce the brand and provide visible sustainability credentials, so, most probably, the trend will continue in this direction," Sorin Visoianu concludes.

According to company data, Immofinanz Romania has had a positive and very dynamic year so far. The company continued to strengthen the office and retail business lines and show very high occupancy rates in both areas, of overall 95.8% as of 30th June 2017. The company rolled-out two of their international brands in Romania: VIVO!, in the company's four shopping centers in Cluj-Napoca, Constanta, Baia Mare and Pitesti, and myhive, in five office buildings in Bucharest, in various stages: S-Park, Iride 20, Victoria Park, Metroffice and Iride 19.

The overall look and feel of the office space is important

IT and technological infrastructure is now leading the conversation and office tenants favor more sophisticated and technologically advanced work spaces and buildings to meet the rising expectations employees have. According to Andrei Angelescu, Manager of Architecture and Design Department at Corporate Office Solutions (COS), "the shelf life of an IT employee is quite low, and the benefits that workspace has, are important in terms of financial reward, but also in terms of facilities, equipment and furniture. At the same time companies are trying to invest more in ensuring rejuvenation space and time. Spending all day in the office, focused activities need to alternate with recuperative ones in order to reach a high degree of performance and therefore special areas to recharge with energy are being integrated in the design and functional configuration of office spaces." The manager states that he overall look and feel of the office space is important; the desire of standing out of the general acceptance of a corporate environment is one desire that reflects in all sorts of configurations that rebuild more and more spaces that are familiar but new to the office environment.

Certification for green, quite uncertain in Romania

As Andrei Angelescu from Cos says, "the certification section started quite uncertain in Romania, it was quite large investments and the market did not know whether it would be accepted. Currently, many office buildings are certified; more recently, we are talking about WELL certifications that are related strictly to the user and to the environment people work in. This certificate is not only for office space, it is for any interior space, but obviously in office buildings, especially those that are certified BREEAM and LEED; it is easier to achieve a high score on WELL certifications. In their case, we are talking about the quality of the air and light, the type of materials used in the arrangement, but we are also discussing how this arrangement has been achieved." The manager adds that "practically, it is a certificate that promises a certain quality of workplace for employees, and somehow this certificate helps the employer to position himself at a certain level and can communicate this easily to the employee. For the candidate is easier to be informed about the quality of the workspace.

Andrei Angelescu, Manager of Architecture and Design Department at Corporate Office Solutions (COS): "Being a nomad also refers to having the choice and control over the activities you have during a typical workday also inside the office space"

Interconnecting buildings with smart city technologies

The COS ‘ manager explains that "here are ongoing researches for this topic, that it seems to be a need, but only that all this development is about the individual, just like any technology related to our country. People are using the technology that they have access to - the mobile phone - there is more and more research and the desire to integrate the portable technology into the hands of anyone in both the furniture and the partitions. You can access your office even if it is locked with the mobile phone, the locker, if you have a height adjustable table again and you can set it up." The remote working affects the development of office space but also optimising real estate value led to this approach. Even so, real connection between people is necessary but scenarios when people work together across different cities communication is vital. More countries obviously need to keep in touch with these people.

According to Andrei Angelescu, COS, "the remote working doesn't mean that there is no office space anymore. There are activities, departments that need a fixed place, and this influence has so far been seen by de decreased number of workstations. Being a nomad also refers to having the choice and control over the activities you have during a typical workday also inside the office space, which implies being able to move from one location to the other whether it's a conference, focused work or online research. " the manager concludes that "onnecting people from different sites in an intuitive manor led to the development of designated spaces within the office that are configured to allow easy interaction using multiple interactive media to connect multiple locations and to share information. The furniture can change from the traditional desk and chair to more comfortable setups, sofas or customized elements dedicated to this type of work."









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