Interview with Dimitris Raptis
We're working to reduce the negative impact of the pandemic
In these difficult times, you decided to launch Globalworth Foundation in Poland. Were you planning to support the fight against the epidemic from the beginning?
Preparations for the Globalworth Foundation's operation in Poland have been going on for many months. During this time, we were working on the strategy and the action plan and, of course, the COVID-19 epidemic meant that we quickly changed the first steps and decide to help Polish hospitals. That’s why in April we announced the launch of the Globalworth Foundation in Poland. As the first step, we allocated 200,000 EUR to help fund medical supplies for two hospitals - Wojewódzki Specjalistyczny Szpital im. dr. Wł. Biegańskiego in Lodz and Szpital Specjalistyczny in Chorzow. The funds enabled acquiring 21 beds, 5,000 surgical masks, 2,600 protective overalls and 7,500 protective masks (FFP2 and FFP3). We also decided, together with tenants of Hala Koszyki, to start financing and delivering 3,000 meals for healthcare workers in Szpital Wolski in Warsaw for a month. The Globalworth Foundation is strongly involved in supporting the fight of the epidemic in Romania as well. Until now, our foundation allocates in both countries 550,000 EUR, for seven hospitals to help fight against coronavirus.
What business decisions has your company made since the outbreak of coronavirus in Poland?
As global concern over Coronavirus increases, we are actively working on how to mitigate the potential health and business impacts. As real estate professionals, we navigate this public health concern by establishing a clear, yet flexible plan and suitable strategies along the way. I can confirm that Globalworth will continue to monitor this complex issue as it develops and will constantly adapt its actions and measures accordingly. Our crisis management professionals are working these days at full-service. They are planning and implementing all the needed strategies to confront the effects of the Coronavirus outbreak. For the continuity of our business and because we need to be a constant support for our tenants, we are also focused on this turbulent time on liability management and risk assessment. Globalworth is reassuring its shareholders of taking all the proper measures to safeguard its people and its assets in the current global health and business context. We also stay committed to helping our tenants in Romania and Poland to keep their operations running as much as possible, in order to keep adding value to the economies in both countries.
What were the measures taken in the Globalworth buildings in Poland?
We comply with all health and safety norms and have taken all necessary and appropriate relevant measures in our portfolio, especially in the common areas where the risks are highest. We have heightened the measures in all our office buildings, and we have also implemented a very strict daily cleaning program at the end of the workday after our tenants have left the buildings. All surfaces with high traffic, such as receptions, stairs, lobbies, elevators, and toilets are disinfected with a special, extremely powerful product that destroys viruses, approved by the relevant authorities. These spaces are being cleaned every two hours. In addition, Globalworth has placed dispensers with an alcohol-based disinfectant in all its lobbies. On all our screens we show videos with hygiene tips and measures that each of our tenants should follow, such as washing hands as often as possible, using the dispensers with alcohol-based disinfectant, how to use masks or how to sneeze or cough safely.
We constantly update employees and tenants with health and safety information, along with all cleaning and disinfecting actions suggested by specialists. Among other measures, we provide now all the necessary infrastructure and guidance for remote work for the company`s more vulnerable employees. These days hygiene and employee health are already top-of-mind for Globalworth professionals, but it’s also very important to consider the mental health and emotional wellbeing of our people. Coping with the stress of a global health crisis can be overwhelming for most of us, but maintaining as much as possible a healthy lifestyle, communicating to friends and family and relying on credible information sources are the strategies we encourage our employees to use in order to handle the times we live in today.
What are the governmental measures that should be taken in the next period to limit the negative effects of coronavirus in the sector in which your company is pursuing its business activities in Poland?
We constantly analyze the plans of the government and ministries and at the same time we also discuss with other industry representatives and working out joint proposals for measures that can reduce the negative impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on the real estate business. For example, as part of our membership activity at the Polish Commercial Real Estate Chamber, we have prepared proposals to amend the provisions of the government's 'anti-crisis shield'. These include, among others, postulates regarding tax issues, deferred payment terms, changes in lease agreements or building permits. The proposed adjustments would greatly facilitate the operations of companies in our industry during this difficult period.
What are the possible scenarios for your business if the coronavirus continues and/or escalates? What about the economic impact in Poland?
There will be a significant impact on the global economy, which will be obviously felt in Poland too. As the situation is still very fluid, we cannot estimate the magnitude of the crisis yet. Therefore, we are prepared with the business continuity for several scenarios and at the right time, we can intervene - depending on how things evolve. We are living in situations where we have rapidly changing probabilities. For sure, there will be a significant impact on the global economy, but we will be able to assess the magnitude of the effect only in the months to come. Amid this situation, the safety and wellbeing of our people, clients and communities continue to be our top priority while we try to safeguard the business, protect its assets and aim to limit the liabilities and the consequences from this crisis that evolves day by day.
Interview published on the PropertyNews.pl website. Check the Polish version HERE.