Magyar Telekom considers subletting headquarters as COVID-19 keeps workers away

In this news, we discuss the Magyar Telekom considers subletting headquarters as COVID-19 keeps workers away.

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Locked in a 15-year lease, Magyar Telekom MTEL.BU plans to sublet part of its new headquarters, one of many options under consideration as the coronavirus pandemic upsets long-term plans for Hungary’s largest office building.

Deutsche Telekom DTEGn.DE, one of the largest Hungarian companies employing more than 7,000 people, had spent just over a year working in the state-of-the-art office complex on the outskirts of Budapest.

When the first wave of the pandemic struck and Hungary was locked down, the 58,000 square meter building was closed. After a brief reopening, most employees have been asked to work from home again from September as cases of COVID-19 in Hungary have increased.

Out of 5500 employees normally working in the building, only 150 to 200 were site under strict hygiene rules at the start of this week.

“Our management has decided that when business picks up, 40% of our employees will be working from home,” said corporate communications director Istvan Kutas in the empty offices, where most of the hallway lights were off.

“An average employee will work two days a week from home,” he said. “There will be people who will never work from home, but some will do so permanently.”

As of Wednesday, Hungary had reported 40,782 cases of the coronavirus with 1,023 deaths. The daily death toll from COVID-19 on Tuesday reached a record 28.

The company, which launched its 5G commercial service in April with employees working remotely, is exploring ways to utilize some vacant office space as renegotiating its long-term lease with property developer Wing is not not an option.

Magyar Telekom did not say how much it was paying for the lease, which sources in the commercial real estate industry say could cost between 14 and 18 euros per square meter per month, bringing its annual cost to around 10 to 12.5 million euros.

Both companies declined to comment on details of the contract.

“We are looking at several options, including inviting some of our nearby partner companies to our head office, as well as moving employees from other offices and selling those properties,” Kutas said.

He declined to give more details on the plans. It was unclear when staff might return to the building, which includes three floors of underground parking, a pond and a rooftop jogging track.

Kutas said the company has spent half a billion forints ($ 1.64 million) to protect its facilities from COVID this year, including cleaning more frequently and coating some surfaces with a durable disinfectant.

Magyar Telekom expects to incur costs of several hundred million forints as it has to provide workers with masks and other protective equipment.

Agnes Sziget, who works in the human resources department at Magyar Telekom, said she didn’t feel an impact on her productivity when working from home, but missed the office atmosphere.

“Virtual sessions can never replace face-to-face meetings,” she said. “I miss my coworkers, our interactions and our laughter the most.”

Reporting by Gergely Szakacs and Krisztina Fenyo; Edited by Mike Collett-White

Original © Thomson Reuters

Originally posted 2020-10-14 03:46:10.

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