Workplace mobility will be the next revolution to impact corporate real estate as emerging technologies continue to enable and power our daily work lives. Six emerging technology forces are creating epic workplace opportunities:
- 1. Cloud and virtualization: By delivering exponentially greater power at a fractional cost, cloud computing mitigates the escalating cost of data centers and drives greater workplace performance.
- 2. Social networks and collaboration: In social and organizational cultures, borderless networks are providing 24/7 collaboration and innovation.
- 3. Internet of things: Sensing devices can connect virtually anything to the Internet, feeding real-time reporting for hyper-efficient productivity and smarter resource management.
- 4. Pervasive connectivity: By 2020, 80 percent of the global population will have access to mobile telephony, and more than 60 percent of the world will have access to smart phones or tablet computers.
- 5. Geospatial and location-based services: Location-sensing technology has personalized navigational intelligence, with profound implications for transportation management and mobility.
- 6. Advanced analytics: Data capture, interpretation, and utilization enables accurate, instant, and actionable guidance for every individual, organization, and institution.
According to CISCO Global Urban Innovation Leader Gordon Feller, "These emerging technology trends are powering a new economic age and driving the expediency of borderless networks as the fundamental infrastructure for future innovation and opportunity." Corporations must plan for these accelerating mobility trends that will shape the future of work, because they will change how and where their employees live and work, specifically knowledge workers in the financial services, technology, telecommunications, media, and life sciences industry sectors. "Mobile and electronic digital nomads" may become the defining behavior for the next generation of global knowledge workers. And thanks to rapidly advancing wireless capabilities, cloud computing, and next-generation smart phone and tablet technologies, our mobile knowledge workers will become less location dependent and the corporate workplace will potentially become location agnostic. Using these technologies in ways that benefit both the corporation and the employees will reduce costs, boost productivity, and improve the attraction and retention of key valuable talent. As such, it is not surprising that in a recent "Workplace of the Future" survey from Jones Lang LaSalle, more than 90 percent of companies are planning on spending more on technology investments next year.
Banks in particular, while downsizing their North American overall usage of real estate, are embracing mobility trends. In another Jones Lang LaSalle survey on banks' use of real estate, many of the world's largest financial institutions directly credit workplace mobility as a means to increasing their overall efficiency ratios.
Benefits of a Nomadic Mobile Work Force
Some favorable results of workplace mobility are already obvious. First, younger knowledge workers will welcome the chance to work hard as part of larger distributed global teams. In addition, they will possess greater control over the time and the location of when, where, and how they will perform their work. Second, workplace mobility greatly reduces ongoing corporate real estate costs. At IBM, 40 percent of its employees have no designated office. At one U.S.-based telecommunications firm, one third of the managers work wherever they are and not from a designated assigned office.
And third, frequent and pervasive "not-in-the-office" workplace mobility enables workers to collaborate more easily with their colleagues around the world and across multiple time zones, as the 24/7 global workplace is now here to stay.
Clearly, workplace mobility will enhance corporate real estate asset utilization and long-term corporate value. It will improve operational cost management and enhance financial profitability.
An important additional trend is that workplace mobility offers significant sustainability and energy-reduction benefits for any corporation, including a carbon footprint reduction achieved through reductions in business travel, less commuting, less paper, fewer printers, and reducing overall energy consumed. The reduction in corporate occupancy also means that the company requires less space per person and less energy to heat and cool its workplaces, as well as the significant simultaneous reduction in energy consumption and related CO2 emissions.
Of course, these factors will lead to a great transformation and redefinition of the physical workplace environment. The corporate workplace and its related facilities will not go away. Indeed, it will assume even greater importance with a much stronger socialization focus, and it will help build corporate culture and enable all-important knowledge sharing, collaboration, team-building, and innovation.