Today’s workers enjoy new choices and new spaces to cultivate their creativity, increase their productivity, and improve their health and wellness. And with the onset of COVID-19, CBRE predicts the radical reimagining of the workplace will accelerate.
Technology has, in most ways, replaced the physical environment with a virtual one that can be accessed anywhere. It’s the differentiator that is providing workplace flexibility. And because of that, tech is a much greater dependency for people today than a physical workplace. One data point underscores the movement: Global shipment rates for laptop computers have outpaced desktops by more than 50% for at least a decade, according to International Data Corporation. Additionally, tablets have become the preferred personal device, with 2018 sales up by more than 600% from 2010— illustrating the highly mobile culture that has developed over the past decade.
“The workplace in the future will compete for use among an even more diverse and mobile workforce. To contend with the myriad of connectivity available in a 5G world, it must be the best venue to connect with colleagues, experience brand and mission, and get work done,” commented Nicholas Maclean, Managing Director CBRE MENAT.
The decentralization of corporate HQ
Thanks to technology and the rise of the highly skilled knowledge worker, telecommuting has advanced in recent years to where many workers see the world as their office. This doesn’t mean that the corporate headquarters will go by the wayside. Workers may visit less frequently but when they do, they will expect to collaborate with co-workers for intense, uninterrupted periods during which certain projects must get done.
As more employees have decentralized from HQ the likelihood they’ll need to find a familiar, appealing space to be productive will increase and will push the boundaries of what an office is. CBRE predicts productive flex spaces will continue to proliferate near fitness centers, malls, urban cores, and client sites, and will become a key offering under this new work model. In effect, new spaces will appeal to workers because they’ll make them feel less like a guest and more like a member when moving between locations. As such, companies that are reimagining their spaces must also invest in technology to keep track of these moving parts. This intelligence will help organizations better understand what portion of their portfolios is best suited for long-term committed space and what portion is flexible, just-in-time space, all the while providing a sense of place for their employees.
The commute is also an office
Working from anywhere also means working in trains, planes, and—in the coming decades—autonomous vehicles (AVs). Already, workers in many markets have become more productive while traveling in technology-enabled transportation networks. The UAE is preparing to have the first country-wide regulations in place for autonomous vehicles by 2021 and a recent poll by YouGov states that nearly half of UAE residents are likely to own a self-driving car in the next five years if they are available.
Despite these near-term uncertainties, there’s one certainty, offices have switched from passive adaptor to proactive responder mode to meet the demands, preferences, and lifestyles of the emerging generation, the exact opposite of the one-size-fits-all “paper factory” of the past.