After ‘Charlotte’ and ‘City,’ we have a newcomer: ‘Suits’! After transforming an old garage and an annex of the national library, Gosia Kramer and her team have just tackled an office building. If the first two places have the label co-working, this new place can be labelled as a flexible office solution. The founder opened the doors of her new address in the center of Luxembourg. Let’s find out what it’s all about!
Photo: Gosia Kramer and her construction team are in the middle of work in the third The Office space in town / Credits © Kaori Anne Jolliffe / Silicon Luxembourg
You have just opened a new co-working space. Can you tell me how this all transpired?
‘Suits’ is the project we have been working on for over a year. The aim was to bring to the market a flexible office solution that didn’t just include coworking.
We had the concept but finding the right building was a challenge, given my must-have condition: windows that opened. We visited literally every venue in the city centre. The main criteria was to stay at the tram track, so our clients could commute effortlessly between important business locations. Hence, we ended up at Hamilius in January 2020.
The plan was to deliver ‘Suits’ by September. Then, Covid-19 happened. Suddenly, nobody was taking any decisions any longer and we have been just watching the entire world turn upside down. This, however, only assured me to keep pushing for the launch of this project.
All the future of work I was predicting over the next 5 to 10 years happened within 1 Covid month.
“Sometimes I look at my construction team and say, guys we have to hurry up – we have entire city to refurbish.”
What is unique about ‘Suits’?
Our approach to the understanding of what The Office is is unique. We started thinking of an office as a decentralized space with the headquarters and distributed teams located according to talent and resources. That’s the model which tends to be associated with the start-up world.
Speaking of cost – not many realize that effective employment cost in Luxembourg, including rent, fit out, furniture, maintenance, salary and taxes per person is on average EUR 15,000. (*Occupier cost index 2019. Colliers International).
Consequently, for every company acquiring a traditional office space, it explodes immediately on the balance sheets. Imagine being able to cut this cost by a third while treating an office space as leasing. Short or long term, whatever suits your company. Moreover, this space will adapt continuously to your team size on a monthly basis. On the contrary to the traditional lease, if your team shrinks suddenly – so will your charges. When your team continues to grow, there is no problem. We will allocate more space or offices. All the facility management, burden of various charges, maintenance and even reception cost is kept by The Office, so the companies can focus on what they do at best: growing their businesses.
Last but not the least: the look and feel. We skip the competition on who will create the most funky, entertaining co-working space in the country. Suits will be contemporary and healthy. We are using breathable elements like natural cork, Japanese silk instead of traditional gypsum walls or god-forbid scandatex (sic! Never!). All our windows can be opened and the air circulation is distributed per floor. Balance, mindfulness and focus.
This is your third co-working space. The Office is becoming a real channel in its own right. What are your ambitions?
My ambition is to create as many healthy places to work as possible. I mean healthy not only in terms of facility but firmly in terms of healthy mindsets and human interactions. Sometimes I look at my construction team and say, guys we have to hurry up – we have entire city to refurbish.
In the long term, my mission is to create places where humans can grow alongside the technology, keeping the connection and collaboration intact.
You – Silicon Luxembourg – have followed our story of creating own food concept – Lokaal. Nutrition is equally important to us as the space contributes to the wellbeing of the people using it. We will top it up with our sport area, bringing in a new concept that doesn’t exist yet in the city (surprise, surprise!).
Slowly but surely, all the elements I planned in my business case from 2016, when I was over ambitious and thought I can make it all at once, are coming together some years later. Patience and persistence, not perfection ☺
“Despite the difficult beginning, it was so worth it to be the one of precursors to where the future of work is going.”
It has been an eventful year. Can you tell me how your members have reacted and what their needs and expectations have been?
I think that is the most important question in this interview. Sometimes, as business owners, we are so busy anticipating clients’ needs we forget to ask them what they actually expect.
Our members wanted to have a safe place to work. After the lockdown, despite the pandemic, our members wanted to return to their coworking spaces, as they are more efficient here. We brought in many solutions, starting with body temperature cameras, to hygienic points, doubling cleaning hours, etc. To date, we haven’t had a single Covid-19 transition case at The Office (Touchwood! Luckily, we have a lot of natural wood around here).
You have also broadened your investor base. Can you tell me more about this and how you managed to convince them to join this adventure?
Sometimes I think I’m simply lucky. My investors comprise of international and national professionals, with impressive experience and I’m continuously taken on how smart they are.
They are in this with me for the long haul. At no point in time have I felt the need to convince them. It was always a process of keeping the discussion about the future of the office space going, until the concept was born and I created the business case. Despite the difficult beginning, it was so worth it to be the one of precursors to where the future of work is going. Actually, alongside our members, we are creating the future of work and the office space.