Four things to know about your future workplace
Let’s look at what the future of work looks like and the four primary areas that smart companies are focusing on to harness change.
Technology is exponentially advancing, delivering innovations that will fundamentally transform consumers’ lives and business operations. This rapid technology adoption means companies have to be light on their feet. How can you create an agile workplace that allows you to quickly shift your business model and workforce to take advantage of new opportunities?
1. Technology and real estate to accelerate innovation
It’s no secret that we’re living in an age of disruption. The companies that survive dramatic changes will take place over the next decades. They will be creating new products, services and business models that leverage the capabilities of a growing digital ecosystem of devices, connectivity and data. Artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, augmented reality and other technologies will enable companies to reinvent their business models and unlock new sources of growth.
It’s critical to understand how the workplace and real estate can help future-proof your business in a more volatile, competitive environment. At a time when technology enables us to work from anywhere, office environments will represent so much more than a workplace. They will be the centre of value creation within organisations—areas where employees, outside experts and partners come together to work on new products, services and ideas. New types of space will emerge, and accelerator and incubator spaces will become vital components of workplace and innovation strategy.
2. Smart business systems and data to reinvent the workplace and keep employees happy and productive
Smart buildings have existed for some time, but the tasks managed “smartly” are often limited to operational tasks, such as controlling lighting and access. In the future, advanced analytics applications in your office will continually capture data from sensors, wearables and smartphones to monitor interactions and work inside. Your buildings will learn your preferences and respond automatically to adjust the environment to your liking when you walk in the door.
You can use this data to suggest design interventions that will enhance business performance. By monitoring the use of space and the types of interactions that take place in a workplace—and correlating that with strategic business metrics like the number of new product launches, bottom line or staff turnover—soon you will be uncovering new ways to optimise space.
Data will drive design, linking business strategic aims and day-to-day operations. Workplaces will become more modular and will be cost effectively redesigned more frequently. Your companies can achieve this by renting, rather than buying, more office furniture so that refits and redeployments can occur more frequently.
3. High-touch workplace experiences to attract and retain talent
The tremendous value organisations place on their people extends to real estate, as executives realise that giving people a job and a place to work is not enough—you need to create a space where they want to be. Human experience is a key differentiator for how people engage with an organisation—both strategically and operationally.
The next generation of workers will be digital dependents—individuals who have grown up playing games on the family iPad and relying on smartphones. Attracting talent from this pool of workers will push workplace user experience up the priority list for organisations. Expect to see more predictive technologies, such as elevators that automatically go to your preferred destination.
At the same time, our society is searching for more authenticity in the way people live and work. The workplace needs to be more agile to embrace a liquid workforce—one that is highly flexible, mobile, commands work-life balance and promotes wellness.
To meet the next generation’s expectations and boost productivity, workplace design will more commonly incorporate activity-based working. This approach provides employees shared access to spaces for individual and collaborative work, giving them more options to a space best suited for a particular day’s needs. High-quality services, from food and beverages to employee lounges and fitness centres, will become standard features in core locations.
4. Internet connectivity as a key driver of location choices for businesses
Internet speed and availability is a critical productivity driver when mobile employees move continually through different spaces within or outside the office. Greater connectivity, cloud computing and device adoption have already created great social and cultural changes, impacting business operations and work.
According to JLL’s report, Workspace, Reworked, at least 80 percent of the world’s adults will own a smartphone by 2025. The rise of devices integrated into the workplace will come with the rollout of 5G speed networks that could run over Wi-Fi. Additionally, software, data storage and digital infrastructure are increasingly being accessed through cloud computing services. This makes connection speeds more important than ever and will determine how attractive a building is to corporate tenants.
As more applications and services are delivered via the cloud, companies become more dependent on their office locations’ communications infrastructures and resistance to outages. Network connectivity is becoming more embedded into the fabric of a building. The cabling system’s design, public cloud and speed distance, and communication networks resilience will increasingly be viewed as part of the different locations’ competitive advantage.
When selecting a new office, we often rely on readily available ratings data to identify sites with superior connectivity. Big financial firms have already spent billions building communications paths and computing facilities. The need across other industries to access always-on connectivity, with speed and resilience, is only growing.
Are you ready for the future of work?
The world of work is changing. As disruption and uncertainty become the new status quo, smart companies will transform their workplaces to be agile and adaptable to ever changing economic, societal and technological realities. Executives will improve their workplaces to serve as the centre of innovation and create experience-rich environments that help attract and retain talent.
Real estate’s potential to help an organisation achieve its ambitions is bigger than it has ever been—and has only begun.