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26 October 2016 | By Chris Ireland Community

Getting the workplace ready for the technology revolution

Smart spaces are set to topple traditional approaches to the workplace, making way for a new and dynamic approach to lean real estate

Technological change and a shift in the type of work companies do - and how - is set to completely disrupt workplace and real estate strategies between now and 2030.

Advances in computer power, the explosion in smartphones and faster, near ubiquitous connectivity mean more devices and more people are online. This is resulting in an explosion of data, which gives businesses unparalleled insight into their customers, powering machine learning and artificial intelligence. We predict that by 2025 the virtual and augmented reality markets will be the size of today’s PC industry.

This revolution will inevitably impact on workplace environments as workforce requirements change. But what will this look like? There are four key areas that occupiers will have to navigate.

Creative hubs

First, as technology and real estate collide, so will creativity and innovation. Office environments will become the centre of value creation within an organisation - locations where employees, external 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.

Smart spaces

Smart real estate defined by data sensors and smart systems will become part of the workplace at a rapid rate. These systems will not only improve the operational efficiency of buildings, but also gather huge volumes of data on workplaces and the people who use them. This data will lead the design of physical space, empowering occupiers to align the configuration of their spaces with business outcomes. In the near future, buildings will be able to marry up location data with information from corporate databases and social media to engineer interactions between staff members.

Utility first

Experience will become an increasingly crucial determinant of workplace design. High-quality service provision and amenities will reinforce talent strategies. Core property portfolios will decline as large consumers of space consolidate into fewer locations and use flexible and liquid spaces more.

Connectivity is king

Finally, the speed and resilience of a building’s connectivity will become major drivers of location selection decisions. This will lead developers to take a more active role in the coordination and specification of the technical infrastructure of their developments and occupiers to consider only the best connected space.

By 2030, companies will have diverse real-estate portfolios that balance core space requirements with greater amounts of flexible space. Core locations will be concentrated in fewer, yet more dynamic, strategic, locations. More of them will be in developing markets with strong talent pools. Automation and outsourcing will streamline the workforces of large companies and reduce the number of full-time staff they employ. Tactical and operational management of workplaces will be largely undertaken by algorithms that optimise the design of workplaces by analysing millions of data points on how these spaces are used. These algorithms will be correlated with strategic metrics, such as the bottom line and staff turnover.

Navigating the changes set to take place will be a challenge for even the most forward-thinking of firms. Being a successful company in the future will be more demanding than it was in the past. The companies that will benefit from the disruption set to take place will be those with a clear view of the technological and organisational drivers of change, who have the vision to make bold decisions on how these forces will reshape their real estate, and who are able to respond to changes taking place today.