Q: How would you define the workspace revolution in 2018?
Ramona Iacob (Predescu): IWG is the group that created the concept of ‘workspace revolution’. As Martijn Roordink, Founder and Managing Director at Spaces, part of IWG said, the workplace revolution is happening around the world right now with many people turning to inspiring and collaborative workspaces over traditional office space.
There is an increasing demand of “on demand” and it is normal, given the change in workspace environment. For generations people have been getting used to a fixed work schedule – 8 hours spent at the same desk. But an increasing number of companies is adopting nowadays a different work model which brings benefits to both employers and employees, a reason for which companies are revising their real estate portfolio. We have entered the mobile and flexible workforce era and this phenomenon represents a major change not only for Romania, but at a global level as well. The concept of flexible work will become the new normal very soon.
Q: Why is it a phenomenon in Romania? & How do employers and employees capitalize on the opportunities of the digital age in terms of the workspace? How do you capitalize on those opportunities?
Ramona Iacob (Predescu): IWG annually conducts the largest study regarding the attitude towards flexible working, with over 18,000 professionals in more than 96 countries. This year a number of 200 respondents from Romania participated in the study, employers and employees alike. Romanian managers consider that a flexible working environment, from the perspective of time and location, helps employees to be more productive (over 80%), more satisfied at the workplace, and to have more effective meetings (over 70%), while allowing them to work closer to home (over 50%). The characteristics of a ‘productive’ workspace, according to respondents in Romania, are given by an inspirational design for colleagues and customers (72%), high-speed internet (57%), a generous number of meeting rooms (40% %) and access to means of transportation (34%). Other benefits of choosing flexible offices solutions are all-inclusive pricing, the possibility of scaling up and customizing the office as needed - one doesn’t need to pay for more office space than needed, admin support - staffed reception helping with mail handling and call answering, virtual offices, lounges and meeting rooms included, as well as workplace recovery in case of calamities.
Romania is a country with a dynamic and enthusiastic entrepreneurial environment, a country in which global companies have come and succeeded. Through Regus and SPACES, we want to show our long-term commitment to support business people who believe in the power of communities to generate ideas that boost business growth.
Spaces brings to Romania a unique, dynamic and creative concept, based on comfort which supports the community of forward thinkers, innovators and game changers. It features collaborative areas, team rooms, co-working spaces, fully-equipped meeting rooms, furnished private offices and a café.
Each on-demand workspace is kitted out with designer furniture – whether members need it for an hour or for many years.
Q: What are your expectations for 2019?
Ramona Iacob (Predescu): We expect 2019 to be a very busy year as we engage into continuing to participate to the ‘workspace revolution’ set in motion by IWGplc Group and develop it on the very dynamic Romanian market. This means expanding our network and meeting the growing demand of flexible, modern, creative and inspiring workplace solutions. And as our customers are at the very core of our business, providing them with a high level of service and a great flexibility is one of our biggest ongoing challenge.
Q: Can you draw a line between the concepts of co-working and flexible workspace?
Ramona Iacob (Predescu): Here is a need for clarification: not everything that is declared ‘flexible’ strictly refers to co-working.
Flexibility for us is based on a few specific facilities for SPACES customers. For example, contract terms that are adaptable to the client’s business type or different office typologies (small, big, with or without natural light, private office, open office etc.).
Moreover, in SPACES, flexibility comes from the mobility we offer through our local and global network.
Basically, with the same contract, if you need to change your location, we can offer this opportunity. Flexibility also comes from the possibility to upgrade and dimension your workspace according to the needs you have. For example, you can ask for bigger space as the business increases, or you can reduce it if a downsize in business is happening.
We also offer co-working areas of different types: local, regional or global access subscriptions; dedicated work areas for co-workers using a single location.
Q: As a CEO, how do you lead the transformation process in your company, on a day-to-day basis?
Ramona Iacob (Predescu): The day to day basis is divided between customer service, sales people, operations team and all the challenges, but also focused towards the future of the business, growth and development. The theory I have is simple: make sure that we, as a network function well so I can concentrate on the development. An important aspect for the business is to stay always concentrated on the basics to ensure these are working perfect. IF the basics are right than you have time to see the big picture, develop the business
Q: Which is your biggest achievement in 2018 and why? How will this achievement make a difference in your industry?
Ramona Iacob (Predescu): This year, after a 10 years’ experience with Regus Romania, out of which the last 5 spent in the position of Country Manager of the company, I became country manager of IWG, the group Spaces and Regus are part of.
More than this being an honor, I am thrilled to be able to actively take part in extending the workspace revolution through the newly implemented Spaces concept. With 155 locations in 33 countries, and growing, Spaces holds in Bucharest 3000 m2 with Unirii View Tower (1st, 2nd and 3rd floor) and 3100 m2 with Campus 6.1 (1st and 2nd floor). Next year Spaces is opening its third location in Bucharest in the Expo Business Park.
Q: We know that your portfolio is made of startups, local and multinational companies. What was the most dynamic sector in 2018 and what are your expectations for 2019?
Ramona Iacob (Predescu): In recent years, disruptive forces have transformed how we think about entire industries. Spotify with music. Uber or Lyft with transport. Netflix with television programmes and films. Technology has definitely changed the way that we think about things that we used to take for granted and has made a rapid transformation of the workplace as we know it. Among the companies that have chosen Spaces worldwide: Uber, Spotify, Airbnb, Paypal, Microsoft, Logitech or Oracle.
Q: Can you make top 5 of your clients’ demands? Are your clients in the IT&C industry more demanding than those in the e-commerce sector, for instance?
Ramona Iacob (Predescu): Romanian clients want flexibility of the contract, flexibility of the office – to be able to quickly adjust the spaces to their team needs, possibility to quickly book an office or a meeting room, all-inclusive high class administrative services.
Every customer has its specific demands some more challenging than others and this is what makes our strength, the ability of quickly adapting ourselves to our customers’ needs.
Q: How do you prepare yourself to become better, as a leader? How do you get out of your comfort zone? How do you find the right work-life balance?
Ramona Iacob (Predescu): In my opinion a good leader must have a good team to work with. Thus, in order to improve and become better the 1st step is to always pay attention to your team, trust, coach, support and guide them. Lead by example. Once you understand that you are not the best person in the company and that in reality your team should be better than you, have other qualities than yours, then the game is easy. I try to get out of the comfort zone by setting myself higher goals every day. If you believe in what you do, if you trust yourself and you stand by all your actions then the comfort zone is too easy to live with, it’s not challenging enough. I know where I am good at and where I am not. I always like to learn more, to try and be prepared and to always leave the comfort zone behind. I always love a good challenge.
Work-life balance is an ongoing subject for me. Yes, I admit, there were times when I had to put work 1st, but since I have a whole family with kids waiting for me every day, I try to set my priorities straight. I have trained myself to be more disciplined, to concentrate better, not loose time and more than anything I had to improve myself on the delegation part and trust. Today I pay much more attention to the quality time I spend at home. The day still has 24 hours, but for me it is important to spend these few precious family hours in the right way with no phone or laptop around. If something urgent comes up, the night is still young, and I can find the time after the kids go to bed, but only in case of emergency. So, another lesson was to learn what “emergency” really means.
Q: What is your good attack strategy for the markets in 2019 and what is your good defense for what might come?
Ramona Iacob (Predescu): Anticipation. We always strive to pay attention to the market shifts and be prepared for the different situations that might arise. As we keep on saying flexibility is at the heart of our business and he ability to anticipate the customer’s needs is what we keep on looking for. We are also continuously preparing ourselves to propose the best service and solutions for all.
Q: In the past few years, Romania has had a very large economic expansion and 2019 still looks good. What are your expectations for 2019? There are business people who say ‘’we must have a slowdown and it should be in 2020’’. Are these people wrong?
Ramona Iacob (Predescu): The demand for flexible workspace is growing in Bucharest as companies increasingly look to save money on lengthy leases and offer staff greater freedom regarding where and when they work. Bucharest is a key business hub in Romania and we are committed to enabling freelancers, people who work remotely and small and medium companies, on one hand, as well as large corporations to have a foothold in the city. The company’s activities comply with the global trend related to the growing demand for flexible workspace.
Q: What’s your ‘’Be careful at…’’ advice for 2019?
Ramona Iacob (Predescu): Be careful to never settle for just OK. Always aim high and the results will surprise you.