Aurelia Luca, Country Director, Skanska
- What was the most challenging thing your company, people, and you, personally, had to face in 2020?
Uncertainty. We were facing something we didn’t know much about. It was a very steep passage (towards lockdown), in February we were in the mountains, on the ski slopes, and two weeks later Romania had declared a state of national emergency.
First thoughts: how can we secure our activity? How do we protect our people and our business? How do we maintain relationships with people?
I must say that people management was one of the biggest challenges in the company. People have different family situations, living arrangements and socioeconomic circumstances and varying degrees of familiarity with remote-work technology and best practices. I had to understand the employees’ needs and preferences and I had to provide a well-needed individualized support to help them accomplish their work goals. I tried to involve more of our colleagues and employees and to give them responsibilities in terms of establishing some of the decisions that were made at the company level.
Personally, working from home in 2020 has brought pleasant things but also challenging ones and, more than anything, has demanded adaptability. For example, as soon as the children saw their parents at home, they wanted to interact with them. It`s not easy to explain a 6-year-old child that you are at home and still need to work and that you don’t have time to interact and play with him. So, you must adapt to this situation, and to try to maintain a balance: to show empathy and affection towards your family, but also to succeed in showing professionalism in terms of work tasks. Easy, right? 😊
- What pleasantly surprised you last year? / What are you grateful for?
I am grateful for the team, both local and regional. Throughout this period, we have permanently connected, we have adapted to the new situation, we have focused on protecting the business and the people. The power of adaptation was unexpected. As a proof, Skanska succeeded to move the business forward and managed not to stop investing. We did not stop activity on our site in Bucharest in 2020, and, together with our colleagues from the construction stream, we adapted with agility to the current pandemic conditions, while integrating all necessary safety measures as well as being compliant to recommendations from the authorities.
- What are your plans and expectations for 2021?
First of all, let’s all be safe. Let’s look back at everything that happened last year and think what are the lessons we have learned, the conclusions we have reached and what we want to change going forward. It is important to be kinder to us and everyone around us.
This year we are committed to continue being recognized as a high-quality office space developer with top safety standards that reduces the risk of disease transmission and facilitate creating healthy and safe workplaces in the post-COVID reality.
On the other hand, this year we will continue our activity on our sites. We plan to deliver Campus 6.2 project in Q1 of 2021.
We have just obtained a WELL Health-Safety Rating for Equilibrium 1 and for Campus 6.2 and the one for Campus 6.3 will follow soon. And we are making all necessary preparations to obtain the WELL certification for Campus 6.2 and Campus 6.3. We will also continue our investments for phase II of Equilibrium project and last phase of Campus 6.
- What do you foresee it will be different this year and what impact it will have on our industry/Romania/your company/your people?
So far it does not feel like a big difference compared to the second half of last year. Expectations are still being defined; I think there are many companies waiting to see what the specialists have to say. I think that during this period, clients expect for developers to step up more into the shoes of a consultant and be able to advise them in choosing best solutions in relation to managing remote work, not settle only to their core business.
People should take care of themselves first so that they can take care of others as well. The time has not yet come to relax, we must analyse well what safety measures we implement in order not to endanger people’s health. I think that the presence of people at the office is crucial to maintain the culture of the organization, social interaction is important to maintain people’s mental health.
I think it’s good to go back to the office as long as office buildings are a safe work environment. If we do not take care of social interaction, we will see the long-term effects.
- What is your message for the ABSL community?
Sharing know-how is very important. Open talks and debates on different challenges we had to deal during pandemic and solutions we managed to find to overcome those challenges. Let’s build a stronger community of leaders together.
- What could we do to grow stronger as a community?
We all need to share our experiences, communicate more, listen to each other, help each other, and try to be as united as possible. Together we will be able to continue our path, to develop, to grow.
- A message for ABSL or a suggestion.
Be safe! Be positive and build resilience!