Christian Drastil

When are we going back to the office, Katrin?

This article first appeared in Wiener Magazine in October 2020

Katrin Gögele-Celeda recently became Country Manager Operations Austria at the publicly listed Immofinanz, which I made into the largest position in my Austrian stock portfolio just a short time ago. Katrin’s mission: Promotion of a back-to-office movement. This includes a range of surprises.

I love the briefings the WIENER sends to its external authors. This time: “The focus of the issue is somewhat diffuse due to the overall volatile situation, but it’s principally about crises and why we as humanity nevertheless pull through time and again. It goes well with the stock exchange.” Is this a dream? Well, as far as the global stock exchanges are concerned, Covid has already been de facto processed, the major indices are all at +/- zero while the Vienna Stock Exchange is down an exceedingly unpleasant 30 per cent since the start of the year. This can by all means be seen as a tradition; our ATX likes to fall back from time to time and then at some point (and when nobody expects it) it puts in an interim sprint – admittedly with the withholding tax under the new finance minister as well “nothing’s good”, but we're hoping. Hope is long-term, the WIENER comes in the short-term. Consequently, here I’ve chosen a piece of news that arrived in my inbox at around the same time as the WIENER briefing. “Immofinanz: Katrin Gögele-Celeda takes on the role of Country Manager Operations Austria as of August 2020.” 

Katrin! I’ve known her for a very long time – in some ways I count us both to be among the pioneers of the certificate market in Austria. I was naturally interested in what Katrin is now going to undertake in her new Immofinanz position because at the same time I’m also doing a about people. By the way, she reveals her personal stock market story there. As does a former Immofinanz CEO, Eduard Zehetner, who led the stock out of its worst crisis (it increased more than thirteen-fold from EUR 0.25 during his era). Put differently, Immofinanz had (as is known) its big crises but is currently one of the cheapest shares on the Vienna trading floor in my view. The new CEO Ronny Pecik is also buying large amounts of the stock, which is something I like. Immofinanz is at present the largest position in our public sample portfolio, which since 2002 has grown from EUR 10,000 invested to around EUR 90,000 (admittedly at the start of the year it was over EUR 100,000).

Whether Immofinanz shares rise in the future also depends on the achievements of Katrin. Her job is to establish a back-to-office movement, as the office occupancy rates in spring and summer were a bit patchy due (of course) to Covid. So, “when are we going back to the office”. Katrin? “We’re already seeing a gradual increase. Home office will never fully replace the office working environment. I’m convinced that the social aspect and personal interaction are, especially for innovation and productivity, critical in companies”, says Katrin. I know that: Charming your way to results. As a certificate specialist, one creates an idea for each situation and now that’s also the case in the office sector. With the myhive concept, Immofinanz has what is perhaps the most flexible offering that exists in Austria. “It’s an all-inclusive office. One only pays for what is used.” Which means it’s like pay-per-view TV. For example, large areas can be leased on a longer-term basis and an additional room can be booked short-term when needed. All services are covered by a monthly rate. What was conceived before Covid and sounded like a start-up focus is now suddenly also (I even mean: mainly) interesting for larger companies.

In addition, there’s interaction: Katrin’s team organises regular online and offline events and activities for this purpose, to facilitate networking among the tenants. At Wienerberg there is also good infrastructure, ranging from conference centres and event locations to a shopping mall with restaurants, cafes, supermarket, drug store, post office, bank and hairdresser, as after all one wants to look smarter than in home office. Speaking of how things are looking: What’s the situation with respect to safety? “We have, for example, one-way system rules, we have masks in stock, disinfectant is provided, and we give relevant support to ensure that contact is organised in such a way as to be as safe as possible.” Community events can also currently be checked online or in a hybrid approach. But what is really new is the “all-inclusive” aspect mentioned previously – everything is possible short-term and, like in a holiday hotel, all office services for the customers are taken care of, from occupancy planning and cleaning through to providing a coffee machine and plant care.   

And why would one take on such a challenge precisely at this point in time? Katrin: “In a crisis, I always also see the opportunity to face the necessary changes. It’s important to me personally to always redefine myself and develop further. I also have a motivated team on my side and I’m therefore very much looking forward to the new role.” And the author’s conclusion? The new opportunity for work-life-hotel balance suits me. As an equity analyst as well as an employer. And myhive isn’t only in Austria, but in all of Immofinanz’s countries. 

And of course, the journey to the hotel-office is naturally also a topic: A dedicated shuttle service, car sharing, e-mopeds, e-bikes and e-scooters are already offered. Additionally, for example, a bicycle room with showers and changing rooms is available, which only our office users have access to. Or a tenant lounge, which can be used for meetings, private appointments or a short revitalising sleep. And can one afford all of that? Yes, indeed  - ask Katrin.

About the author: Christian Drastil is a former banker and founder and CEO of numerous online media enterprises. Since 2012 he has been self-employed with the Börse Social Network. The two-page spread printed here appears 1:1 in the 100-page monthly Börse Social Magazine

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