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Thursday, 27 February

Can You Imagine What Your Workplace Will Be Like In 2020?

Become a modern-day Ninja in the brave new world of the agile workforce says Caleb Parker of who will be speaking at the FM Innovate conference in London on 23 April

Available statistics predicting the future of work and the impact of mobile technology on the growing agile workforce are staggering. They all point to a workforce and a working environment that is almost unrecognisable from the world we know today. 

The question is no longer whether radical changes are coming but how well we are prepared for them.

‘The reality is, whether you want to call it telework, or mobile work, workshifting, smart working, flexible work or whatever, the employees have already left the building and they’re not coming back.’

Flexible working strategies, reconfiguring legacy space, third places and leasing are just some of the keys to surviving the revolution but they are all powered increasingly by big data to help businesses make the best choices in the unchartered territory that this unstoppable agile workforce brings. Tooled up with data, we will be empowered to manoeuvre with some precision. If you think this sounds more like a game of Mortal Kombat than preparing for the future - you might be right.  Businesses are required to develop new skills to successfully adapt to the changing workforce demands, to be flexible around the changing employer-employee relationship and to rise to the challenges of the growing mobile workforce. Without these skills, businesses are very unlikely to thrive. Data will assist with making these leaps with as little risk as possible.


Knowledge is king

Just for example, with the predicted growth in the mobile work force, knowing how much space is actually needed for your business is crucial for any organisation to make sustainable cost saving space changes. Over 1.3 billion people are estimated to work remotely and require professional on-demand workspace by the end of 2015, so this will potentially result in a massive workspace shift.

It’s no surprise that whole employee groups of major corporations or departments have been moving from on-site to mobile workers. A full 42 per cent of IBM employees are mobile workers, working out of multiple locations.

While this shift might seem to favour the changing habits of the mobile workforce, there are compelling numbers that make it an extremely attractive option for employers: ‘A company with 20,000 workers reducing shadow vacancy by 20% would save $40M per year. Business units with 300 desks eliminating 20% unused desks would increase their profit margin by $600,000 per year’. Figures not to be sniffed at.


The consumerisation of commercial real estate

In light of the evidence around the agile workforce, backed up by the available research, It is now safe to predict that tomorrow every office building will support Workspace as a Service (WaaS) to accommodate these business and workforce requirements. New WaaS operators are entering the marketing as we stand and marvel at their speed and skill. Yes – data again...armed with data about the changing workspace requirements, they come to conquer. Building owners will forge partnerships with operators. Traditional commercial real estate firms will add the WaaS business model to their offering, others will partner with existing operators.


So, what’s next for us? How do we get the knowledge we need to make the changes?

Ask questions:

  • What steps do we take to understand how much space we are using today and reduce unnecessary occupancy costs for our changing workforce?
  • How do we accurately analyse data about the utilisation of office space?
  • How do we optimise real estate use?
  • How do we support multiple work styles from home to mobile, to increase workspace choices for employees?
  • How do we improve the quality of and the speed of our decisions?

Specialised ‘space utilisation’ software companies are rapidly adapting to this growing demand and answering some of our big questions around utilisation and occupancy.

It used to take years for changes to occur in the workplace but now change is happening yesterday. As with all revolutions, there will be those who adapt and thrive or those who will get caught in the headlights.

The future of work may be workforce driven but data will empower the employer to make informed decisions so they can adapt ahead of time and ensure that they are providing the best solutions and the best environments for their business and their talent. It can and will be a win:win solution but businesses need to get skilled up now -  Modern-day Ninja is the new job title for business owners of the future.

Caleb Parker is CEO of - an online marketplace that provides customers with access to meeting rooms, training centres and conference facilities worldwide

Article written by Caleb Parker


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