Human-centered office spaces, sustainable developments and technology innovations are at the heart of Skanska’s developments. Marcin Łapiński, managing director of Skanska Hungary, tells the Budapest Business Journal more why being an advocate for well-being and innovation can pay off, both for tenants and developers.
BBJ: How was Skanska Hungary’s last year and what do you expect for the upcoming period?
Marcin Łapiński: For the past few years the investment market in Budapest has been dynamic, with demand being strong from both local and international investors. Currently, we don’t see any major shift in investors’ high interest. In terms of the leasing perspective, the demand for office spaces is still high and absorbing vacant space rapidly. I am very proud to say, that in our current project, Nordic Light Trio (to be completed in 2020) 100% of space is already pre-leased and the building attracted the attention of JR AMC, a South Korean real estate investment trust. Nordic Light Trio is JR AMC’s first investment in the CEE region.
I look positively into the future. The vacancy rate is low, and our solid project pipeline provides certainty for the upcoming period. We provide our future tenants with top office locations and tech advanced work environments of the very highest quality. Having a leading role in sustainable developments, we continue our commitment in raising awareness of the well-being of office users.
We are putting a lot of energy currently into the planning our next office complex, to be built on the corner of Dózsa György út and Váci út. We always see each of our buildings in the context of bringing added value to the communities’ lives.
BBJ: Why do you think it is important to be an advocate for the well-being of office users?
MŁ: Healthy lifestyle is a noticeable trend; therefore, ecologically conscious and healthier offices are a competitive must for companies nowadays. Successful businesses are paying significant attention to the quality of their interiors, since the work environment is basically a business card for a company, reflecting its culture and values. Theoretically, we can work from anywhere, but an office is still a meeting hub where ideas are born and social ties are formed. At a time of shortage of highly skilled workforce, companies that have a human-focused work environment with outstanding features can ensure the wellbeing of workers and have confidence that their employees will stay with them longer. By developing futureproof, people and environmentally friendly office buildings, we support our clients in strengthening their employer branding.
We conducted a survey about the ideal office recently and the results confirmed that the work environment is so essential when changing job that it came in third (66%) as the most important element after salary (84%) and appreciation (69%). Most office workers would like to have an external or internal courtyard to get some fresh air; a cafeteria with a good variety on offer and a quiet room for a bit of relaxation. They appreciate well-ventilated offices with minimal unwanted noise, providing acoustical comfort where they can concentrate and create, and temperature customized to their needs by having personalized microenvironments enabling each worker to control their own space; this is what the WELL approach is about.
We at Skanska are supporting the introduction of the WELL Building Standard to CEE markets. WELL looks into whether a building’s design supports a healthy lifestyle for its occupants. The standard focuses on the soft factors in a building’s operations through measuring, monitoring and certifying the office environment according to 10 key concepts: air, water, nourishment, light, movement features, sound, thermal comfort, mind, community and materials. Our first WELL certified building in Hungary will be Nordic Light Trio.
BBJ: One of the widely used buzzwords in the industry nowadays is PropTech. How can you leverage property technology to make a difference in office users’ lives?
MŁ: Skanska has been leading in digitalization and innovation for years. We have developed Connected by Skanska, an all-in-one integrated operating system that connects building functionalities and people in the workplace and provides beneficial features appreciated by tech-savvy tenants. Thanks to the Connected Building feature, from your smartphone you can easily navigate through the building and its services. Access the building with your smartwatch or phone, use the virtual reception or activity-based parking function, see what events are happening around you, find amenities in the building or nearby, check the lunch menu or report a defect to facility management – these are just some of its functionalities. In addition, tenants and building managers will have access to a special web portal which will provide them with data regarding the building’s functioning.
For the most innovative tenants, we have created additional modules including smart solutions for their own premises, such as indoor positioning, room booking integration, and work environment management to maximize the comfort of employees.
BBJ: Where can we see such initiations come to life?
MŁ: Our Nordic Light Trio building will be the best example for the application of the principles of WELL standards and the use of smart solutions, including Connected by Skanska
We aim to offer the highest-level comfort to our tenants, so we take a good location and modern features into consideration. Nordic Light Trio will be located on the Váci Corridor, the most popular office hub in Budapest. The project will be easily accessible from all directions, both by public and private transportation. Office users who cycle to work can use outdoor and indoor bicycle storage facilities with lockers, showers, and dedicated changing rooms The complex will also have chargers for electric cars. The promenade of the office complex will be a semi-urban space, a corridor from the city towards the building’s interiors. It is airy and close to nature, with a 2,400 square meter green garden for contemplation and relaxation open to office users and the public.
When arriving at the building, a Scandinavian-style lobby will await office employees and visitors. Part workspace, part social hotspot, the lobby is ideal for users to gather and work.