The Leader Magazine

JUN 2019

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F E A T U R E A R T I C L E 34 JUNE 2019 th E l E ad E r The future workplace: an experiential shift by Tim Oldman and d espina Katsikakis O ur fascination with how the workplaces of the future might look is rooted in our frustration with the workplaces of the present. The stats say as much. Leesman's own research reveals that more than a third of employees worldwide cannot agree that their workplace enables their productivity. Peel away at that surface layer and you'll find that many of today's office environments simply fail their occupiers – they do not support their jobs, their physical and mental wellbeing, or their lifestyles. In what has become a vicious circle, this dissatisfaction is fueled by a universe that continues to raise our expectations in myriad ways. New technologies are redrawing the composition and complexion of work by freeing people from the stale rigidity of traditional office environments to a range of locations that suit their specific needs. Partly by exploiting this technological shift, a new generation of large enterprises – with seemingly bottomless pockets – is designing offices that resemble theme parks as much as workspaces. Meanwhile, deeper socio-economic forces on the labor market are resetting the relationship between employer and employee, an evolving dynamic that is having a magnitudinous impact on what it means to work. What lies ahead t he workplace will be digital New technologies – mostly in the form of connected devices and increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) – are shifting our perception of buildings from bricks and mortar to dynamic living organisms. For landlords and property managers, specifically, the ability of these new tools to monitor real-time data of building use, occupancy and energy could deliver significant cost savings and productivity benefits. But this opportunity comes with considerable caveats. While the smart- home market is booming (expected to grow to $153 billion by 2022) and giving people an unprecedented level of choice, control and convenience in their home lives, the same cannot be said for technology in the workplace. In fact, large swathes of existing building stock could be more accurately described as 'dumb' – no more sophisticated than their BMS systems that send out a few hundred alerts per day. Organizations must therefore learn to walk before they run. They will need to build the appropriate on-the-ground human infrastructures before they can take advantage of "big data." It makes very little sense to extract data if you do not have the requisite processing power. Once more, this dichotomy is built on rising expectations. Compare, for a moment, the speed and effectiveness of a process between the home and the workplace. In their personal lives, humans may pick up a mobile phone, order a 52- inch television, and have it delivered to the local supermarket the very next day. At work, however, that same process can be delayed for weeks as it meanders through the chain between procurement and installation. t he workplace will be flexible To meet the growing occupier demand for flexible working environments, landlords will need to become more agile and proactive in their approach. With commercial office leases getting shorter and a new breed of co-working providers ready to offer occupiers what they want, landlords must take more responsibility for the physical infrastructures, amenities and services within the workplaces they provide. This is something co-working firms understand innately. Their particular brand of "workplace-as-a-service" (WAAS) – typified by communal yoga classes and high-grade coffee and kombucha – was initially conceived to give growing numbers of freelancers a social experience on top of a home. And it has made a huge impact for this particular category of worker. By borrowing heavily from the hospitality industry, co-working is delivering an extremely high quality of architecture, aesthetic and experience – while its financial model, which gives people the opportunity to pay for a membership or lease space for short periods of time, has kept it incredibly responsive to both the needs and growth of its many freelance and start-up customers.

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