The occupancy costs of office spaces represent, on average, between 3 and 4 percent of the turnover of services companies in Bucharest, and they may fall even below 2 percent, in some cases, according to an analysis of the real estate consultancy company Cushman & Wakefield Echinox.
The analysis takes into account the results from 2019 achieved by companies in various fields, such as software development, advertising agencies, IT consulting, engineering and technical consulting, business support services, accounting and financial audit, architecture or real estate agencies.
The analyzed companies, whose revenues are mainly generated from work performed in office spaces, achieved in 2019 a total turnover of EUR 8 billion, with about 112,000 employees and an average productivity of EUR 70,000 per employee. The occupancy cost of the office spaces for these companies, consisting of rent, service and utilities tax, was estimated at EUR 255 million per year, the equivalent of about EUR 190 / employee / month.
In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, which imposed a series of social distancing rules to limit the spread of the virus, companies implemented procedures for working from home for most employees, reducing the physical occupancy of offices to the level of 35 – 40 percent. Given that the new working model has come up with a number of challenges, but also with benefits, most companies are currently analyzing how they will operate on the medium and long term, while they carefully monitor the productivity evolution and reanalyze the occupancy costs.
“The analyzed data shows us that the restriction of working from the office, imposed by the social distancing rules, can be harmful, endangering the employees’ productivity, social needs or the necessity for diversity, to learn and achieve new things. The employees who worked from home adapted to the current context and sought to perform in an exceptional situation, perceiving it, in most cases, as a temporary phase. In a scenario where remote working would be widely adopted on the medium and long term, we believe that the productivity indicator would definitely be put up to a test, and a decrease of only 5% would practically completely cancel the reduction of cots generated by the eventual cease of office workspaces”, said Mădălina Cojocaru, Partner, Office Agency, Cushman & Wakefield Echinox.
At the same time, the Cushman & Wakefield Echinox consultants point out that part of the occupancy costs of office spaces were “transferred” during this period to the employees’ account, and they were therefore put in the situation to pay higher utility bills and even invest in office furniture or more spacious homes, in order to carry out their professional activity at home.
Bucharest has a modern stock of office spaces for lease of over 2.9 million square meters, where about 260,000 employees worked before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a quarter of the employees in the Capital. The owners of these spaces have an annual turnover of about EUR 600 million from the lease and administration of these spaces. In addition to the services companies included in the analysis, in these office spaces there are banks, insurance companies or law firms also operating, as well as the management and support teams of energy, industry, pharma or trade companies.