Kata Klementz, Loffice Co-founder tells us how it has built a home for creative entrepreneurs, cultural initiatives & freelancers of all sorts.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Kata Klementz: Fortunately, we are all fine, thank you. We’ve been taking strict health regulations very seriously from the beginning. I think this is the best we can do. We really miss the personal and big social events that have been essential to our and Loffice’s lives so far, but we hope that the “new normal” will emerge as soon as possible.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Loffice.
Kata Klementz: We opened Loffice’s first coworking office with my sister, Panni, 12 years ago with the support of FFF (Friends, Family, and Fools). The concept of a community office was not yet known in Hungary at the time, but we believed this was the future. Before Loffice, I worked as a jurist in an international law firm and the public sector. Panni and I both wished for self-realization and opened up our very own business based on strong core values and benefits to society. So we dived in, and quickly turned out that our intuitions were good because there was a great demand for a coworking space in Budapest. 2 years later, we opened new locations in Budapest and expanded to Austria, Vienna. We are proud of our diverse community and the network we’ve built up.
How does Loffice innovate?
Kata Klementz: Innovation and constant renewal are among our core values. Our aim is to shape and not necessarily follow the international trends of the coworking world. We are striving to place more and more emphasis on expanding our service portfolio in addition to our community-based operation. In the summer of 2020, we opened our newest HQ in a 7-storey, contemporary, smart building in downtown Budapest, where we can flexibly serve our community’s needs within one building, from the smallest startups to large companies with hundreds of employees. In our new HQ, in addition to our coworking space, we equipped design offices, meeting rooms, event spaces, penthouse, and coliving apartments. Reflecting on the crisis, we also provide virtual office services for such companies who don’t need a constant physical space for daily operation. Another service is business consulting and mentoring for future entrepreneurs who need to get professional advice and assistance for an efficient company launch in Hungary and Austria. With our workspace solution services, such as office space audits, we help companies define how to shape their ‘old-new offices and manage their teams in the spaces.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Kata Klementz: The first phase of the virus was the most challenging time for us, as we were about to open our new HQ at the time. We had to fill 7 floors with tenants and life while the whole world decided to work from home. Fortunately, we already started 2021 with a full house due to the fact that we quickly recognized to rethink our previous concept and develop a strategy that was even more reflective of flexibility and constant change. “Think outside of the box”: We have launched several innovations, such as the ‘hybrid office’ model, which is based on the observation that companies do not have to maintain a huge office in the long-term, instead of this we offer a combination of remote and office workspace to their colleagues in a smart, secure, rotating system. We provided team- and meeting rooms and other services while the rest of the team is working from home. All of the above works on a pay-per-use basis. So we offered a flexible solution at a time when maintaining health and resolving budget cuts was the number one goal for every business leader. In addition, we have launched a virtual office service that provides a secure business background, seat-host, mail service, and administrative assistance for companies that, how we’ve already mentioned above, typically do not require physical space and are predominantly remote.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Kata Klementz: I don’t think there’s a CEO or entrepreneur who didn’t have to make difficult decisions in these times. The most important lesson for me is not to be afraid of change. I know it may sound like a cliche, but I’ve realized through experience that you can overcome almost any obstacle with an open mind, willingness to compromise, acceptance, flexibility, and creativity.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Kata Klementz: We have started to use custom-developed software for our tenants and community members to manage their issues, reservations, mail, and profile as transparently, quickly, and easily as possible. Staying in touch with our community has also been greatly facilitated by this tool. We would have developed this system, regardless of the virus. It took a long time to prepare, and the pandemic was just oil to the fire to finish it sooner. At the team-level, we manage our “internal” tasks with another management tool, but I think phone and video calls are just as useful. Nothing replaces the personal “I’m just rolling over my chair” contacts, but ‘the tires will still be burning’ here soon. The sudden compulsion of the digital switchover has accelerated the development of many companies in Hungary, which is a positive contribution to this situation, in my opinion.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Kata Klementz: In our case, it is very difficult to name specific competitors because we have a fairly wide and complex range of services. Taken into categories, more large office buildings with a creative aspect, coworking space, and event space providers can be our competitors. How do we plan to stay in the game? We continue to seek opportunities for renewal, development, and cooperation, constantly shaping and expanding our service portfolio with enthusiasm and solid faith in ourselves, our team, and our services. We also listen and consider our community’s feedback and needs, and I think it’s really important.
Your final thoughts?
Kata Klementz: There is nothing permanent except change. It’s up to us whether we see the negative or the positive in a certain situation. I truly believe that Covid will teach us a lot in the long term. Try to learn from all of this period and keep going forward. I wish you all the best and stay safe!
Official website HU: https://loffice.hu/budapest/en/index.php
Official website AT: https://loffice.at/vienna/en/index.php