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Interview with Spain’s coworking industry giant Despina Katsikakis

By Silvia Castro Betancourt 0 Comments NEWS, News

This article was written and published in Spanish and has been translated into English via Google Translate. Click here to read the original article.

Katsikakis is one of the world's leaders when it comes to transforming work and its spaces. The expert defends that it is necessary to change the way in which workspaces are proposed under two maxims: engagement and effectiveness.

With more than thirty years of experience in the sector, Despina Katsikakis is one of the main global leaders of new ways of working. The expert has advised companies such as Google, Microsoft, BP or Unilever in the transformation of their offices and corporate headquarters and now serves as the global head of occupier business performance at Cushman & Wakefield. The expert assures that the offices have been slow to transform and that it is necessary to think them as if they were a store. "You have to attract the client, who in this case is your employee, and make your experience inside pleasant and productive," Katsikakis proposes.

Question: He has worked for giants like Google and Microsoft. What do these companies look for when they look for offices? Answer: What matters most to big companies is how their workspace will be able to attract and inspire the right talent. That means that you have to think of the workspace in some way as if it were a store: to attract employees as if they were customers. At the same time, it has to be a space that allows people to do their job. It has to have flexibility and agility at a good cost. In summary: engagement and effectiveness. And this does not only affect the work site itself: the experience begins when you leave home. It's about treating your employees as if they were your clients, because today people have the option to work where and how they want, and they have to choose you.

Are these maxims also valid for a startup?

Indeed, because small companies also want to be agile, grow and adapt to the environment, attracting the best talent. In addition, the workspace is very relevant for start-ups because it creates a sense of community, a culture, and communicates the values of the company.

Has retail gone ahead in innovation than offices?

Yes, retail has always adapted faster because it is focused on the customer. The office sector, on the other hand, was focused only on real estate, on buildings, and not on people.

Does the role of the property owner change?

In the past: the owners used to look for the best agreement, sign the contract and leave. Today they have to partner with their tenant, work together to provide the best experience.

How does that goal of engagement move to practice?

First, the office must be flexible, that employees can choose how, where, and when they want to work and in what kind of spaces they want to work. There must be places where they can connect with each other and create community, but also where to disconnect, focus and recharge the batteries. In this sense, the office cannot be airtight but must be able to adapt to the needs at all times.

Will we see big companies in coworking spaces?

Absolutely. In fact, all companies today have part of their team in coworking spaces. Any owner will have to incorporate these features into their buildings. I was working in London in the largest office tower in Europe, and there were already 20,000 square meters of coworking space and another 10,000 meters of common areas. It is a very dynamic mix.

Then they will not go to WeWork, but create their own coworking spaces instead?

Wework is already changing its model in this direction. Together with the direct coworking model, they now work with the business model, in which Wework enters an organization and creates a coworking space there. We will see promoters doing this too.

Are technology and leisure areas essential or accessories?

You have to use it properly, also in line with flexibility: allow yourself to adapt air or lighting, for example, to the use you want to give each space at each moment. Finally, it is also important that the workspace allows employees to connect with their humanity: if you have a friend at work, you are seven times more committed. In this sense, they do help the amenities and services that help the life of the staff when they are at work: healthy food and maybe a gym.

The future model then passes through mixed complexes, with offices, shops, services, etc?

Somehow, yes. The lines between living, working, learning and entertaining are blurring, and that is why cities are gaining so much prominence. The city is being used more and more as an office (we work in bars, in hotels, etc.) and the office is beginning to look like a city.

Will the offices then have to be in the center?

There will be a variety of locations: a network of spaces where people can choose to do one or another task.

Can you imagine offices of large corporations in towns?

Somehow. Banks, for example, have many physical outlets that can become workspaces and meeting points for employees, who already worked in the area. It is a way of reinventing neighborhoods and small towns.

Does the Google model work for everyone?

Yes and no. I do not think the Google and Facebook model is appropriate for everyone. I have advised Google in this regard and I know that their offices are very specific to their company culture. But the characteristics on which they are built are common throughout the world.

Which country is leading this transformation this transformation?

There has been a change. The United States has traditionally been much more conservative in this regard. There was a lot of innovation in Silicon Valley but the rest were rows and rows of tables. In recent years, this has changed, because all organizations compete for the same kind of talent: banks compete with Google. In this sense, the most modern of workspaces are becoming the norm in the country.

Is Europe falling behind?

Not at all. In the last ten years, the most innovative workspaces have been in Australia and Holland. Europe, as a whole, is behind, and America was the least innovative.

And Spain?

In Spain, there is a lot of innovation and a great awareness that workspaces have to change. Both in Madrid and Barcelona, where there are some of the most interesting coworking spaces when it is a trend that has just begun.

This article was written and published in Spanish and has been translated into English via Google Translate. Click here to read the original article.

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