Fulga Dinu is Country Manager Operations at IMMOFINANZ, a European commercial real estate group that focuses its activities on the office and retail segments.

Fulga started her career in New York, at JPMorgan, as an investment banker and, upon returning to Romania in the early 2000s, she established and led the real estate division of HVB Bank. Moving on, she occupied the role of Country Manager at Eurohypo AG, worked with some of the largest real estate projects and transactions in Romania, and since 2018, is running the operations of IMMOFINANZ Romania.

The company is present on seven core European markets, and the Romanian portfolio includes 41  properties with a carrying amount of EUR 780.8 million, equivalent to 15.4% of the overall group portfolio. The standing investment portfolio includes 8 office buildings and 5 retail properties with a rentable space of around 334,000 sqm and an occupancy rate of 91.2%.

Main takeaways:

  • Home offices will never completely replace the office workstation; personal interaction is crucial for innovation and productivity
  • It is very important to focus on the needs of the customer: flexibility and community play a central role 
  • We are going to see more investments in projects focused on specific needs of the tenants
  • Two factors are particularly important in a crisis: sufficient liquidity and close contacts with customers
  • Technologies that build a bridge between the real office and the digital space will be in more use, especially when it comes to convenience
  • Virtual and offline tours will complement each other for maximum impact

Are we coming back to the office?

When it comes to the future of work, Fulga Dinu emphasizes that while the recent past has shown us that we can basically work from anywhere, office spaces will remain in place. And the main reason is their role in connecting people:

The home office is definitely a modern way of working, just like working from the train, plane, or coffee house; in short, today you can work from anywhere. Nevertheless, the home office will never completely replace the office workstation, as the social aspect and personal interaction are particularly crucial for innovation and productivity in companies. 

The socializing component and physical interaction will continue to weigh heavily in making the decision to return. There is still a significant percentage of employees (and there are enough studies already done in this regard) who declare that they find it more difficult to stay focused or motivated at home, find it more difficult to perform their tasks or are less connected with their colleagues. This is one reason why offices will not lose any of their importance.

Before and after. Introducing myhive

Due to the pandemic, office tenants’ requirements have changed and now they are looking more at safety and health features, are more interested in wellbeing (which will be at the center of the office experience, according to Fulga Dinu) and have started feeling the need for more and more flexibility.

To respond this need, IMMOFINANZ has adapted its innovative office concept, called myhive:

In the medium to long term, there may, of course, be changes in the space requirements of individual tenants. It is therefore very important to focus on the needs of the customer: flexibility and community play a central role here. This includes, for example, flexible rental space. 

We already rely on this in our myhive concept. Large areas can be rented on a long-term basis and small areas can be added to or disposed of at short notice as desired. In addition, we have the mymembership service, where a monthly rate covers all services, including short-term rental of meeting rooms. 

We thus offer a combination of high-quality coworking space with the advantages of a modern headquarters, which is characterized, for example, by generous space, all-round service and an excellent infrastructure.

Investments on the Romanian real estate market

In 2021 and beyond, Fulga Dinu believes that we will see a demand for high-quality office space with added value; furthermore, “it will be very important to focus on the specific needs of the tenants“.

Her opinion is that we are going to see more investments in projects focused on specific needs of the tenants and on a wider range of services and gives the example of IMMOFINANZ:

We started the year by announcing two transactions meant to expand the range of benefits we offer to our tenants. First, we closed the deal to acquire Bucharest Financial Plaza, an emblematic building in the Old Town. The agreement is an important step in strengthening our high-quality office portfolio and innovative myhive office brand. As part of the planned refurbishment, we will provide more space for the public area and the green city terrace will bring a highly appealing central attraction to the residents of the city. 

This year we also concluded a long-term rental contract with Provita Group, a leading medical center provider, that will occupy a building in one of the largest office hubs in Bucharest. This partnership expands our current offering with a high-quality medical hub, which will increase the location’s attractiveness in the long-term.

A lesson after 2020

After the 2020 crisis, the office industry should have learned some vital lessons in order to be prepared for the future: 

Crises teach us primarily to adapt, to reposition our resources to work in unexpected contexts. I think two factors are particularly important in a crisis: sufficient liquidity and close contact with customers. We have both and, as a result, were able to act quickly and flexibly and react to the changes in our operating environment. Active communication with all parties was one of the most important success factors. However, we also benefited from the availability of up-to-date information.

The digitization of the real estate industry

Are there certain technologies that will leave their mark on the office industry? Fulga Dinu says yes, especially those that improve the way we work and communicate:

Technologies that build a bridge between the real office and the digital space will be in more use, especially when it comes to convenience. For that matter we have our myhive App that allows tenants to book rooms or just a table remote, but also to communicate and book events planned by our community managers to our tenants. This could be afterwork drinks or Pilates classes to name a few. 

But technology won’t completely replace human interaction and one good example are virtual and offline tours:

The two instruments will complement each other. Virtual tours, although technologically advanced, offer those interested a limited amount of data, which can be completed with a simple visit to the location.

Future plans for IMMOFINANZ

To conclude our interview, we asked about the future plans of IMMOFINANZ:

IMMOFINANZ focuses on constantly adapting to the increasingly sophisticated needs of the tenants therefore flexibility has become one of the main pillars of the myhive concept.

This new component brings an upgrade to this concept and allows us to offer an extremely varied range of options to our tenants, to be able to accommodate almost any type of requirement, coming from companies active in any type/business model. 

With this product, we offer the possibility to conclude long-term or short-term contracts, to benefit from “all-inclusive” rental services, the possibility of relocation within the myhive portfolio or the extension/restriction of rented areas. 

This product has already been implemented with great success in Vienna and Warsaw, and we are currently working on its implementation in myhive buildings in Bucharest, said Fulga Dinu. 

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