Alexandru Lapusan is the CEO & Founding Partner at Zitec, a company that offers end-to-end services, from consulting and audit to software development and digital marketing. Their mission is to inspire and empower people and organizations to achieve their potential. They have a team of over 170 people and have invested in 8 international startups so far.
Alexandru is also the VP of International Markets at ANIS, an association that represents the interests of Romanian IT companies and supports the development of the software and services industry.
Zitec is one of the Romanian companies hosted by an A class building, so we wanted to understand a tenant’s point of view regarding the current situation – their expectancies, their coming back to office strategy and their view on technology.
- Flexibility is key in the new context
- Technology will play a major role but won’t replace all human interactions
- Office Spaces might change their purpose, becoming social hubs
- Leadership style is vital for the safety of the employees
Working from home for Zitec
Zitec is one of the companies that weren’t taken by surprise by a new way of working. They were already prepared for remote work, so everything continued to run smoothly: “We had already implemented all the legal bureaucratic procedures and the software tools and processes needed for remote work. The shift was made through a simple email. We made sure all our colleagues have all they need to work efficiently from home, delivering laptops and PCs where needed.
Our productivity during the pandemic increased, online meetings gained us a lot of time and we had the support of the majority of our clients. They accepted using DocuSign, an online signing platform, which made the signing process more efficient and faster.” Alexandru Lapusan said.
Coming back to office
Zitec has decided not to return to office just yet, given the increasing number of new cases. Their office spaces in Bucharest (Timpuri Noi Square) and Brasov (Neorama) are not used at the moment: “Under 10% of our colleagues come to the office, just because it is more efficient for them to work from our spaces than from home. But they do not use public transportation and they are required to take safety measures – social distancing, wearing a mask etc. Safety comes first for us.”
Regarding landlords and their responsibilities, Alex thinks that it is too soon to speak: “Buildings are now underused, they are not crowded, so the risk of getting infected is low. I think that if they ensure a sanitization of common spaces, the pre-covid measures could be enough.”
Technology at the office
Technology is part of Zitec’s DNA. Integrating and developing all kinds of tools is a way of living and working for them. They have invested not only in helping their clients, but also in bringing new products on the market and also in transforming their offices – which are already some of the most SF and fun ones out there!
“The tools we have been counting on, even before the pandemics, are based on process automation and on transforming processes from synchronous to asynchronous ones. The solutions are easy: from adopting Office365 or Google Suite to adopting a platform that helps aligning goals and increasing team performance (for which we use our own product, http://mirro.io) to online signing through DocuSign.com.
In our spaces, we have implemented tablets that are connected to our company’s calendar, thus helping us manage meeting rooms. We have been using solutions such as sigfox.com to monitor temperature and air humidity in our meeting rooms. Also, we have invested money in installing a system that automatically turns all the lights off after 8.00 PM.”
Real Estate and Technology
This new context will definitely affect the way we work and the purpose of office spaces. Alexandru thinks that while technology will play a great role, there are some things it cannot replace. But the way we are going to move forward depends a lot on leadership styles: “I expect that the number of people working from home will increase, especially in those companies with a strong leadership. Managers who are trapped in micro-management and who do not trust their team will force them to come to the office, even if it’s not safe yet.”
Flexibility becomes the new keyword, according to Alex, who emphasizes the need for balance and adjustment: “We won’t be all working from home, there are things that are done better face-to-face, it’s easier to build relations. So we are probably going to see a hybrid way of using offices. We have already adopted new behaviours such as: flexi-time (you work when you want and can), flexi-city (you can use any of our offices in any city), work-from-home. Now, we are taking into consideration a mix between work-from-home and flexi-desk, so that the office becomes more of a social hub and a space for teams to talk. Of course, we would need adequate software tools to book spaces or parking lots, for example.”
PropTech in Romania
At the moment, PropTech in Romania is still developing, learning from other startups abroad and from real estate professionals. Alexandru is open to using these kinds of solutions: “We would definitely use software apps that could help us manage our parking spaces or a solution that could help create communities in different buildings or even a solution that could save energy.”
Plans for the future
Zitec will expand nationally, but they want to follow their new approach to office spaces and use them as hubs: “We are now recruiting from cities where we don’t have a rented office. If we’ll have a strong team developed in one city, we might invest in renting a space, but it will surely be small and it will work more as a social hub.”
Tenants are now adjusting to a new way of working. Being able to collaborate and interact fast with landlords and agents is more important than ever, as well as being open to changes that put technology first. The future of work is yet unclear, but it all depends on each company’s agility and speed in integrating new solutions for their teams.