Mobiles and mobility

Small talk
Renata Hartle, the flex-office strategy & technology solutions manager at Colliers International

The Colliers Mobility Pass platform (CMP) is now being rolled out. Why would companies and individuals need to access offices on a subscription basis? Isn’t a normal flex-office enough?

Renata Hartle, flex-office strategy & technology solutions manager, Colliers International: In today’s world one option is just not enough. We want to have full flexibility in our choices. This is the basis for how CMP works. It’s a platform that joins operators of flexi-space across the world. For a fixed monthly payment, someone can use office space in Warsaw, New York or Singapore. Someone with a subscription can choose where they work, book meeting rooms, make reservations and reap the benefits. For larger companies, it adds a very flexible component to their office strategy. And freelancers can work wherever they want in the world. For example, a 100-team firm can lease a traditional office for 60 people while the rest of the staff can work not only at home but anywhere in the world depending on their requirements. Even the largest operators can’t offer such an option. It’s important that in many cities each user has the choice of several different operators and co-working space. One day they might need contact with other people and choose lively co-working space, but if they want to work in peace, they can choose offices with quiet rooms. Imagine that you are spending the weekend by the sea but you have to work for a day or two, after which you can relax. You can spend those two days in a rented office in Gdańsk and then you can go back to the beach.

And what if – theoretically speaking – I don’t like Gdańsk?

CMP covers more than 5,000 locations across the world. There are 60 in Poland, but the goal is to increase this to 100 this year. We started with the largest chains of serviced offices and now we’re adding smaller ones, such as boutique co-working space providers. In Poland, we are already in the eight largest cities, but smaller towns and cities are soon going to join. For example, a co-working centre in Żyrardów has been added recently.

Why are the subscriptions so high? After all, not all offices are equal...

Yes, but CMP has a single fee for each location, which is only dependent on the number of users and how often they declare they will use the space. For example, the option for a one-person company, which is the most expensive, is USD 299 per month, while a corporation that is going to use the office space for five days a month will pay only USD 69. Interestingly, each client has access to an administration panel, from which the subscription can be managed and also allows them to monitor how much users have used the services. Moreover, an operator can manage their services online, for instance, to add more private offices whenever space is vacated.

It used to be experienced agents that did this. Have they been completely replaced by apps?

There are two aspects to the current changes. Firstly, digitalisation is playing a greater role in our lives. We already look for most information on the internet, so why should real estate be any different? Secondly, there is a growing emphasis on optimising space and the need to make workplaces available on demand. These types of requirements are difficult to satisfy with conventional methods. Just a few years ago it was just a handful of developers who were interested in innovation, and generally they were the larger ones who had budgets that were big enough to introduce new solutions. The remaining players on the market regarded such hi-tech systems as mere curiosities and breakthrough systems as if they were gadgets. A few months ago a drastic change took place. Every second tenant is now asking about virtual receptions and office management systems that encompass meeting rooms and parking spaces and they want to have those systems yesterday.

But aren’t we making the workplace less human in this way? Don’t workers feel less connected to their companies?

Well, I also used to think that everyone should have their own little corner in the office, where they can put up photos of their families. I felt that hot-desking was a little inhuman. Ever since I started travelling on business, it has turned out that I can live without the filing cabinet. The only thing I really need is my laptop and contact with others. With a system like CMP, we can use what we need at any given time and concentrate on getting the job done and building up relationships.

What direction is the digital revolution taking when it comes to offices?

I think that it’s heading in the direction of generally integrating different services and solutions. When a company moves to a new building, it wants to take all the systems it has used before with it and they need to work in the new offices on a plug-and-play basis. Technology in all its guises is heading in the direction of making it easier to join systems together and to change them.

And what’s your favourite app?

I couldn’t get by without Google Maps. I use the app not only on my daily commute to check there are no traffic jams, but I also check when my favourite restaurants are busiest and I tag them when I go there. I also check out the recommendations of my friends. I also use Google Maps every day at work – for example, I’ve got my own maps with all the co-working locations marked out as well as the places I’m going to visit. This really does make my life easier and that’s probably the main reason why the digital revolution began and why there are no losers.