WBJ: I couldn’t help but notice the “Office Renaissance” campaign in the lobby and elevators. What’s the story?
Maciej Gołębiewski: First you must understand Globalworth’s unique role. We are an investor mainly in office real estate and we provide a majority of related services in-house. We lease and manage all our assets which allows us to be close to our tenants and really care for them through the whole process. This is what our idea of “Office Renaissance” is about. We understand the disruption the pandemic brought on work patterns for companies (our tenants), so we want to support them in rebuilding the work-life balance. So work again becomes mainly what happens in the office and when at home you can focus on family values. As office owners, we feel responsible for making the experience at our offices special and intriguing so that our tenants’ employees enjoy the time in attractive surroundings — both measured in facility supply, comfort, safety and purpose. These extraordinary graphics inspired by masterpieces of the greatest Renaissance artists, used in common spaces of the buildings, emphasize our 'welcome back’ message to all the people working in or visiting our properties.
You own offices in Warsaw and five other major cities in Poland. Do you see differences in companies’ office work policies between Warsaw and the rest of Poland?
Actually, it depends much more on what tenant it is than where it is. We are noticing that especially international corporations have a longer decision-making process about asking employees back to work in the office. It is an ethical issue, that they must assure not stepping wrong on. Small and local companies are allowed more under the radar and get things done quicker. We can notice that many of them are back to a more frequent office usage already or a hybrid model.
What are your thoughts about the “new” office?
Our strategy has all the time been to buy good, centrally located office buildings of high quality. This approach secures an attractive product for tenants allowing to have access to public transport, talent pools and destinations that people are attracted to work at because of nearby shopping and entertainment options. Before Covid-19 hit, the fight for talent was already a major challenge for many companies and office locations, fit-outs and facilities were already an important factor in winning the right employees. The pandemic has not made this crucial battle less important for companies. Therefore, the right office space energy and location are still very relevant. We must assume that remote work is here to stay but company culture and social gathering are still important elements for corporations’ foundations. So it is important that they are creating a model where people can come to work to meet, brainstorm and exchange with each other. This demands excellent meeting facilities, and easy booking and communication systems.
The demands and challenges for modern offices are growing in terms of sustainability and technology. What are the key challenges and requests from tenants in this area?
When we were younger and joined a company it was mainly based on the brand. Today, young people also look at the details, what the brand stands for and do they care about ESG and the small things (as a good and healthy workspace). Our aim is to be partners for our tenants and we do a lot in this field to help them and their employees. To name a few examples, all our offices are going to be BREEAM certified at an excellent level still this year. 100% of electricity in our buildings comes from renewable energy sources. We are upgrading all air filters in the buildings. And we are working on our own application — to make our offices accessible touchless for employees. We are active not only on the technology and sustainability front, but our motto is also really: it is not just an office, it’s an experience. And therefore, we are also arranging social activities and gatherings like open-air-cinemas, concerts, workshops, upgrading green areas to buildings and making sure that we deliver on these extra small services people need for convenience.
Warsaw and most of Poland as well have seen a boom in the office market in the last decade. Right now a lot of new space is becoming available as many new buildings are being finished. What’s your perspective on the present and future of the office building market in Poland?
Last year, as Covid-19 struck, the market came to a halt in many ways. Companies had no clear visibility for the future and as most offices were emptied and business stopped. This was no time to make decisions about new assets and spaces for companies. But 2021 is already much better for us and for other market operators. Spaces in the most attractive office buildings are leased and some places are already close to being fully booked. And as I said at the beginning of our talks, we are very satisfied with our results this year so far.
Has the crisis impacted the leasing pricing?
No, it doesn’t feel so, at least if you have, as I said before, the right locations in modern facilities. Actually, I see companies’ interest in investing in Poland already building up again. You understand it when you analyze how much potential Poland has in terms of a talented labor force and large scale. So for us, the market is still very attractive.
When you say the market is attractive does it mean you have some new investments planned?
We are right now investing in two very fascinating redevelopment projects. Renoma and Supersam mixed-use projects in Wrocław and Katowice respectively. Renoma used to be a shopping center in a central location. We saw the chance to use this perfect location to rebuild it into a multifunctional destination, with state-of-the-art office space, original culinary concepts, fashion boutiques, and medical and fitness services. The same redevelopment scenario is happening with Supersam, in Katowice center. It is a smaller-scale project, but a very exciting trend of office facilities combined with retail and leisure, that one may see more of in the future. We are also constantly investing in other our properties, upgrading their standards, modernizing common areas, introducing more greenery and modern proptech solutions.
GLOBALWORTH IN NUMBERS
• 42 properties in Poland and Romania
• Total combined portfolio valued at €3 billion
• Overall standing portfolio footprint: 1,271.3k sqm of GLA
• Company team of over 220 professionals in Poland and Romania
• Over 650 national and multinational corporations among tenants
• In Romania, the company owns properties in Bucharest, Timișoara, Constanța and Pitești
• In Poland, it is active in Warsaw, Gdańsk, Katowice, Kraków, Łódź and Wrocław