Tomorrow’s ‘Workplace of the future’ Impact on Today’s CRE Strategy

What is your organization’s corporate real estate occupancy costs per employee? $1,000? $5,000?

According to discussions at a recent meeting of the Carolinas CoreNet Global Chapter the 300 participants cited their companies were spending $8,000 to $12,000 per employee.

Chances are it’s much higher than that when you include all of the 250+ categories that comprise the total cost of occupancy (TCO). Given the cost’s impact on your organization’s bottom line there are a number of evolving dynamics of the “workplace of the future” that will offer benefits of higher worker productivity and lower your TCO today.

Some of the steps you could incorporate into current CRE strategy that will anticipate the new “workplace of the future” include:

  • The standard 250 SF/employee cubicle may be no longer viable given the cost of new construction against a growing workforce
  • Replace the rows of individual cubicles with better lit yet smaller (110 SF) cubes with more open work areas for team members to interact with one another and feel more productive
  • Expand the use of WiFi networks throughout the office environment so workers can collaborate and share anywhere in your office
  • Design ‘Starbucks style’ spaces with pleasing colors and curved lines, soft music, multiple seating options (inside, outside, small table, large table, cushion chair, firm chair, sit down table, bar stool table, etc.) that create a heightened “sense” about the employee
  • Create meeting areas with raised tables without chairs which generally create a more engaged person and can dramatically reduce the length of a meeting and get people back to work faster by avoiding the conventional “one hour meeting” that shouldn’t take longer than 15 minutes
  • Build your brand through the design of spaces that incorporate your company’s logo, mission, quotes on walls to create ambassadors for the company – when employees embrace its core mission and values, employees from around the corner and across the globe engage more quickly
  • Relocate perimeter executive offices that typically block all the light and move them to the core of the building to open up larger windows to make better use of natural light
  • Enhance worker’s work-life balance by creating a workplace that extends employees’ time with amenities like a gym, rooms for nursing mothers, on-site cafes offering healthy foods – organizations that embrace amenities that give employees options to help them balance their lives will demonstrate that the health of their workers is a key contributor to employee retention and hiring
  • Move your entire portfolio of future workplaces toward sustainability by conserving energy – both of the employees within an office and for the physical building systems themselves.  Incorporate window shading technologies that manage heat gain and loss for an office building, as well as cutting glare on computer screens that can cause headaches and eyestrain for employees. Replace traditional HVAC systems with individual under floor air units that can be controlled by employees and give them flexibility over their own temperature and comfort, while also help lower an office’s overall power consumption.
  • Go “green” with paints, fabrics, carpeting and office furnishings and finishes designed to be biodegradable and made with low- or no-VOCs. In addition, technological advancements will allow workers to store paper files on-line, mitigating the need for extensive file storage.

In its Office of the Future: 2020 Survey and Report, staffing agency OfficeTeam identified several technologies that will alter the workplace of the future, including:

Sensory-recognition software – Computers in the future will increasingly be able to respond to voice, handwriting, fingerprint and optical input.

“Knowbots” – These future programs scan databases to filter and retrieve information for users. For example, the program could summarize key points of a report, and deliver an e-mail and voicemail to the device a user is working on.

Smart devices – Computers will use algorithm-based programs to learn the relationships between words and phrases, creating a smoother interface and enabling users to conduct more effective information searches.

Miniature wireless communication tools – These future devices will combine the personal computer, phone, fax, scanner, electronic organizer and camera all in one.

Wireless everywhere – Users can connect to the office in taxis, in buses, on planes, in parks, in building lobbies or even on beaches.

Interactive office spaces – By 2020, offices will be embedded with sensors that monitor and maintain the environment, including temperature, humidity and lighting. For example, a sensor in a desk chair could detect back tension and signal the chair to give a massage.

Virtual conferencing technology – Offices may be equipped with walk-in facilities outfitted with wall-sized screens that project 360-degree views of videoconference participants.

Automated business process management – Collaborative software will streamline the process by which teams work together on documents, eliminating the need for email as the means of document transmission and sharing.

By factoring in the many dynamics of the ‘workplace of the future’ as part of your current CRE strategy you and your department can create office environments that will enable greater worker productivity, enhance recruitment/retention of top talent, and, most importantly, reduce your total cost of occupancy through more energy efficient facilities.

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