The office will always be an important part of the companies’ DNA, even in times when many employees work from home
1. What were the last 2 years for Sofia Airport Center like? How does the business center operate currently?
The crisis caused by the pandemic has put all of us, both personally and professionally, in a totally new situation. For the last two years, we have made efforts for adaptation and optimization in order to fit into the current situation. We used this period to rapidly synchronize and improve many of the day-to-day maintenance activities of Sofia Airport Center's park and buildings. Thanks to the efforts of the whole team, the business complex is currently operating at usual pace. Most of our tenants in the Logistics Center continue their work on site, while the tenants in building A2 adhere to the hybrid mode of work, which successfully combines work from home and from the office.
2. Are there tenants who have vacated spaces and, respectively, new ones?
Outflow and vacancy of office space has not occurred. I can positively say that during the pandemic we strengthened our partnership with tenants and together we overcame all challenges to ensure the safety of employees. With joint efforts we built a community of modern and responsible companies, successfully offering their employees a harmonious work atmosphere.
3. How have the tenants’ requirements and expectations changed? What sort of companies are your tenants?
As expected, in the last two years the tenants’ requirements are higher. On the one hand, greater flexibility is sought in the way of working for the purposes of health and safety, and, on the other hand, office spaces must provide maximum comfort and convenience. All of this is available at Sofia Airport Center. Our goal is for companies and their employees to go beyond their traditional workspace and immerse themselves in an entirely new environment.
The tenants of Sofia Airport Center are established local and international companies, leaders in their field and operating in various sectors such as information technology, research and development, pharmaceuticals, distributors of agricultural machinery, food industry, logistics and others.
4. How has Sofia Airport Center transformed to respond to the new reality?
Sofia Airport Center is one of the first office projects in Sofia which invests significantly in the overall development of the business park. For a whole year we invested all of our energy and experience in creating a large-scale concept for renovation and improvement of the interior and exterior of the buildings in the complex. The title of the project is Re:Share, and its first phase includes a complete change of the tropical winter garden in building A2. The space bears the ambitious name The Flex-R Lounge and is a flexible workspace. The developed project is aimed at companies that can and want to try a variety of solutions for their employees without renting additional office space. The result is a reduction in office density by introducing flexible spaces in common areas as a convenience. There, people can work undisturbed, make phone calls, socialize or just relax.
The second phase of the project is aimed at improving the common areas and enriching the park space which is located on nearly 5,000 m2. Two high-tech gazebos have already been installed. Both facilities are connected to free wireless Internet, they are soundproof and protected from external influences, which makes them an ideal place to work. The glazed modules provide maximum sunlight, and the outdoor gazebo reveals an impressive view of the central lake.
Our next goal is to build an outdoor gym, which is currently in the design and engineering phase.
5. What are the biggest challenges of the hybrid work environment and what would you advise the leaders of companies that implement or plan such a mode of work?
I believe that good leaders are proven in times of crisis. The hybrid work mode and hybrid teams have undoubtedly changed our perception of the traditional workplace. The main challenge for managers and companies is to be able to synchronize the work of their employees who are physically present in the office with those who work online from home. The division between colleagues could lead to a number of difficulties for the companies. My advice is in this direction – to achieve better communication between employees.
6. What will the "new normal” be in the company culture and what will be the role of the office?
We live in an interesting world and we are currently in an unprecedented situation. The "new normal" has become the norm.
For me personally, the hybrid mode of work will remain on the agenda for everyone. I believe that sooner or later people will return to the office because it is a key place, the face of every company and will always be an important part of the companies’ DNA, even in times when many employees work from home. Personal contact in office communication is indispensable!
7. What does the future hold for Sofia Airport Center?
We are in the process of finalizing several projects – the construction of a new logistics building, construction of another office structure, as well as the implementation of many ideas related to improving the environment for our current tenants.
8. What are your forecasts for the development of the office market in Bulgaria?
The economy is recovering slowly which also affects office space rents. There is a tendency to optimize the design of offices in order to ensure distance and a healthy indoor environment. Sofia Airport Center offers flexible rental conditions and added value to the conditions for its tenants – improving the outdoor park environment, flexible workspace and other social benefits.
9. In your opinion, in what way will the labor market change?
The labor market is extremely competitive and fast growing. Despite the pandemic, Bulgarian business has shown resilience. I believe that it will be the most difficult for the sectors that cannot provide flexible modes of work in order to adapt and organize a new work process which is in line with the imposed restrictions.