Petra Lávičková, CBRE: Office space is now on the table and businesses are thriving
Work environment and the demands workers have change over time. Petra Lávičková, an expert in marketing, came to CBRE after years in the technology companies SAP and SAS. Today, she shows an interesting comparison of how demands of employers and employees vary with the type of activities and sectors.
You entered the real estate sector just three years ago. What has this field brought to you and what do you enjoy about it? In the past, you worked for IT companies, how do they differ from the real estate sector?
"Marketing commercial real estate in our country hasn’t broken new ground compared to the IT sector. I was won over by the fact then that I had the opportunity to be introduced to many new things. Technology is still not used often in the field of real estate, while IT companies use this more, because it’s their way of business. Marketing is more globalized at IT companies, so there isn’t so much space for local marketing. The space is still there for real estate."
The third-annual Meeting Room of the Year competition is underway this year, showcasing the best workspaces from the Czech Republic. Why was this contest created and what’s its goal?
"For the last two to three years there have been a lot of beautiful offices in the Czech Republic, which already compete with the West, so we decided it was time to show them.
We had to overcome a psychological barrier as many companies considered their premises to be their private space. But when you realize how many people pass through offices, especially at larger companies, it does not have much in common with privacy. So, we decided to educate companies and tried to convince them that the working environment is important both for employees and for themselves.
In our view, the whole competition is primarily educational in nature. We want as many companies as possible to show that “it’s here”: they can make nice offices that generation Y and Z will appreciate. We like it when companies compare themselves and want to be better."
How do you evaluate the competition after two years of its existence?
"The situation has rapidly changed over the first and second years. At the beginning, we had the idea that companies would let us into their offices with a photographer, on the side-lines. Only a few enlightened companies understood that it is not private space, and let us continue to be able to show the market what the trend was. The second year it was much easier, because more and more companies realized this. In addition, the number of companies that are innovative and have very representative premises has rapidly increased.
Another factor is that the quality of office space has become a topic of conversation for companies and employees in recent years. Remember who was discussing office space 10 years ago - nobody, it wasn’t even a topic. This topic surfaced in companies when we broached the subject resulting in the competition becoming so popular. It is important in virtually all sectors. It’s due to the fact that people spend a lot of time in the office, it was brought in by a new generation and the fact that technology allows it - at a time when everyone was anchored to a big table with a desktop computer and mobile services were not so widespread and it wasn’t possible to flexibly operate from other locations. The advent of technology made this possible."
Now, the current trends in the Czech office environment should come up. How is the development going in your opinion? What does the office environment in the Czech Republic mean to you?
"I am delighted that we are not so far behind the West and that we’re catching up to the world cities like London. There are many companies in Prague that nearly have world-class offices.
On the other hand, I am surprised that just some companies implement a contemporary concept, just an estimated 15-20%, while the vast majority, around 80%, are very conservative. Unfortunately, many of them consider offices only by financial criteria, where it is hard for creativity to prevail.
Fortunately, there is an increasing number of companies today where HR and top management have become interested in solving office space together. It is logical, as office space is very closely related to the company’s production rates and employee satisfaction, and for me it’s a positive surprise that the number of companies that consider this is growing. Of course, the positive market situation plays a role, as companies have the money, are extending offices, expanding and investing in employees. The question is what future development holds, but I think that this trend is already irreversible."
Have some interesting solutions in terms of work spaces made an impact on you recently in the Czech Republic? What are your personal favourites?
"The new offices of Avast without a doubt. Similarly, Microsoft’s newly renovated offices, while Google, Socialbakers, Likos or Skanka’s offices in a new building in Karlin are still at the top. An extension and partial innovations have recently even been underway at CBRE, which I think places them among the best office space in the Czech Republic."
You’re an expert in marketing. How do you perceive the field of Czech real estate from a corporate marketing perspective?
"There are considerable gaps in in marketing commercial real estate here compared to the rest of the world. It discovered the possibilities of the internet only recently, there is still a lot of space for marketing of large commercial real estate in the Czech Republic to become the world class."
Does marketing real estate gradually contributes to cultivating the market, or, on the contrary, does its culture suffer from it?
"I think that commercial real estate cultivates the city in general. An example is the total cultivation of the Anděl area, where especially commercial spaces arose, just like in Karlin, Stodůlky or Pankrác. Commercial spaces attract money, people go to work there, spend money and it has an overall impact on the district. Thoughtful development of commercial real estate has meaning and a major positive impact on cultivating the environment. We see it in all capital cities across the world."
Where do you see the office environment in 20 years? Will workspace vary significantly across sectors and even for different jobs?
"When talking about indoor commercial buildings, they will be diametrically different elsewhere than today in my opinion. Even further than when we look 20 years into the past, when the PC was at the center of the workplace.
The world is faster, because of changes in working spaces in fields such as IT, financial services, services and marketing agencies - all work spaces will look vastly different than today. It will change the reason why people go to the office. It will not be for the daily agenda, which can be done from anywhere, but for the interactions.
The Industrial sector will undergo immense change. Some sectors will stand out, the public sector will most probably remain the same as today, just as office spaces are not a high priority for manufacturing companies. But other sectors will surge ahead."