Changes in the workplace have come fast and furious over the past few years, with new technologies advancing digital mobility and giving rise to worker demands for a flexible work environment. Office users have responded by creating open, collaborative office environments with a variety of workspaces and amenities to attract and retain talent.
A “fourth industrial revolution,” driven by rapid technology innovation, is infusing digital into every aspect of society, notes a new report from real estate services JLL on “The Future of Work.” The report was developed with input from a C-suite of 20 clients that included top executives in real estate, finance, human resources and IT, as well as leaders from other disciplines.
The report explores how to manage uncertainty following fast, profound change and leverage disruption to “create an agile workplace and adaptable model for achieving ambitions in an environment where stability is an illusion or, worse, a sign of stagnation.”
According to Paris-based Marie Puybaraud, PhD, JLL’s global head of research for corporate solutions and leader of the Future of Work project, the three game-changers affecting an organization’s financial performance and operational excellence, in order of importance, are: the human experience, digital technology and innovation—how collaborative and cooperative are changes in an organization.
“The two pillars that most concern our clients are digital drivers and human experience,” she says. In the past, JLL’s technical conversations with clients revolved around issues involving their service lines, Puybaraud notes. Now clients are encouraged to think about work as a living organism that continues to evolve and how that impacts real estate.
The report noted that one essential reason for adopting a broad view is that nothing occurs in isolation anymore. As organizations place a premium on creating engaging workplaces as part of the war for talent, that focus on the human experience requires innovation, touches upon digital capabilities and impacts financial performance and operational excellence.
While the integration of digital technology with real estate is the driving force behind the changes, the challenge is how to integrate disruption into a real estate strategy that engages and empowers workers to fulfill their ambitions, as well as achieve the organization’s goals, Puybaraud says.
She notes that addressing the human dimension requires going beyond the physical environment, reaching across all aspects of the human experience and behavior—leadership, community life, education, salaries, health, choice, values, the environment and corporate responsibility.
Determining how and where people work has massive impacts on productivity, employee engagement, competitiveness and an organization’s brand and reputation.
The Future of Work model developed by Puybaraud’s team comprises five interrelated dimensions.
- Harnessing digitization and rich data to enhance performance;
- Enhancing user experience through engagement, empowerment and fulfillment;
- Combining new ideas, solutions and processes to drive value creation and accelerate transformation;
- Managing spending to enable growth and enhance return on investment (ROI); and
- Optimizing enterprise resources and service delivery to increase productivity, mitigate risks and ensure high performance.
All five dimensions are vital to running a thriving organization, noted the report, but how they are addressed and the priority given to each will vary by organization and industry.
When presented to JLL’s 20 clients, Puybaraud notes that they saw this model as a way to engage with their own executives.
“All of our clients use real estate to recruit and retain talent—they actually see it as a weapon in the talent war,” she says, but notes that the office is increasingly competing with off-site workplaces where people may prefer to work. In fact, a recent JLL survey revealed that 54 percent of people work at home more than five days a month and 33.6 percent work regularly in other places, including internet cafes, public libraries or co-working spaces.
“In the future, the driving force will be to create more and more real estate transformations to wrap around a liquid workforce, spaces where people can come together and disperse quickly,” Puybaraud says.
Planning office space will no longer involve squeezing a certain number of people into a specific space or allocating a pre-determined amount of space per employee. Rather employers will think about investing in different types of spaces, Puybaraud notes. The report predicts that by 2030, 30 percent of corporate real estate portfolios will comprise flexible space, including co-working, incubator and accelerator spaces.
While Millennials initiated the movement to a mobile workforce, Puybaraud says workers of all ages are demanding flexibility in when, where and how they work. Noting work dynamics are changing fast, she predicts, “The next wave of new office workers will ask for a different type of work, not a difference workplace.”
In addition, a report from consulting firm Deloitte, “2017 Commercial Real Estate Disruptors,” identifies disruptive trends office owners can use to make physical space future-ready.
Among the trends is occupant health and wellness. Companies are placing equal emphasis on mental, social and physical health and wellness within the built environment to recruit and retain tenants, improve productive and lower absenteeism, the report notes. Landlords are advised to adopt design elements that promote health and wellness, collaborating with tenants to understand their health and wellness requirements, as well as using the Internet of Things (IoT) to track, adapt and optimize resource usage and share IoT sensor data with tenants to help them enhance employee productivity.
IoT-enabled physical space will impact office owners in multiple ways, improving building performance and profit margins through cost savings and operational efficiency that lowers operating costs, facilitates predictive maintenance and increases security.
IoT technology can also create competitive differentiation and improve topline growth for landlords through service innovation, including leveraging sensor data to offer tenants more customized design and experience by capturing and analyzing end-user behaviors.
Footpath technologies also enable office property owners to provide key insights on employee interactions and movements to help design more comfortable workspaces.
The Deloitte report advises landlords to determine the types of IoT applications most beneficial to operational efficiencies and other desired outcomes, ensuring seamless integration and interoperability with existing technology systems. Then look for ways to monetize the investment by recording, aggregating and analyzing sensor data to offer analytics as a service to tenants and third parties to generate new revenue.
Demographic data and predictive analytics will play a disruptive role in real estate development, the report claims. Predictive analytics will help investors make better-informed decisions by using data in helping them understand a region’s unique demographic profile, both now and in the future.
These tools can also potentially assess whether the existing commercial real estate infrastructure aligns with requirements of market inhabitants, property ownership and management costs, upcoming developments in the region and transportation infrastructure. This data can help investors decide on the location and scale of new development or redevelopment of existing properties.
Companies can further use demographic data and predictive analysis in leasing activities, as well as for driving tenant engagement and loyalty. Data and analytics can add rigor to existing property valuation methodologies by registering nuances around location dynamics and building usage by occupants.