Abstracts for RFP’s articles and articles not shown here are available online at the RFP Web site. To access an article that is from a previous issue or not available online it is necessary to either subscribe or pay for that issue alone. If you wish to subscribe to RFP please visit this page or just email for more information.

The Workplace of the Future: Virtual, Physical or Both?

John Hampton explains why corporate real estate strategy should be designed like a playlist.

The workplace of the future is not a place but more a moment in time irrespective of location when people come together to tackle a specific task. Individuals will have the freedom to determine the resources and appropriate location to get the job done.

Technology has made workers mobile. Real-time accessibility to data and information is enabling a new way of working. In forward thinking organisations colleagues, clients and collaborators are already geographically dispersed. Heavy reliability on virtual interactions from home, on the road or third party locations, diminishes the role of long-term fixed office and meeting space.

According to an IDC Market Analysis Report, the worldwide mobile worker population is set to reach 1.2 billion people by 2013 — accounting for more than a third of the global workforce. The number of mobile workers in Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) will rise to 734.5 million in 2013 or 37.4 percent of the total workforce in 2013. The challenge to the decision-makers behind corporate space is clear. The more time workers spend away from their company-owned offices, the more money a company wastes on unused square footage, energy and technology. Rather than continuing to pay for under utilised facilities, companies should opt to divest corporate real estate and provide workers with anytime, anywhere workplace options such as pay-as-you-go offices, touchdown space, meeting rooms, and drop-in business centres.

A New Approach

A recent consultation between a Regus executive and a Fortune 500 client led to the realisation that the client’s property portfolio should be designed similar to that of an iTunes playlist. Businesses should have a comprehensive ‘playlist’ of workplace options to choose from, including fixed locations, touchdown space, collaboration space and virtual spots.

One example of a company on the cutting edge of workplace transformation is Juniper Networks. As an innovative high-tech organisation, agility is at the core of Juniper’s business philosophy as well as its overall real estate strategy. As the benefits of an agile workplace continue to contribute to the success of the business, enabled by a partnership with Regus, Juniper’s commitment to a flexible workplace continues to grow year after year. Currently, close to 50 percent of the company’s global locations are flexible, on-demand workplaces.

From major business hubs such as Houston, Vancouver, Rome, and Bangkok to suburban locations such as Alpharetta, Georgia and Durham, North Carolina, Juniper relies on the business centre to provide a professional environment for its distributed workforce employees whenever and wherever they need it.

The People Factor

The current workforce faces an unusual set of circumstances heading into this new decade. All indications suggest it is certain to function differently from that of the past. Social networking, virtual communities combined with multigenerational colleagues with inherently different work styles are a challenge for today’s businesses.

In the past, a leader would set the priority of work amid a highly structured work environment (e.g. face-to-face meetings in the conference room). Today, the work is dictating how colleagues interact — whether it’s in a structured or more likely ad hoc engagement. Colleagues are learning to make decisions through consensus and collaboration and don’t rely on a single authoritative voice.

It’s clear physically grouping employees by function in an office will give way to a new model.

People will professionally and casually interact as needed. Offices and third place layouts must accommodate this more flexible work environment.

Businesses will need a skillful understanding and sensitivity to the needs of its workforce and will need an adaptable workplace so that all workers can succeed. Creating a sustainable work/ life balance model that delivers a professional environment when necessary or a place that enables a group to come together to collaborate on a project are all essential pieces to the new real estate puzzle.

By John Hampton, Vice President for Enterprise Solutions, Regus

Focusing on corporate real estate, workplace, design and office management, the core readers of RFP Office Space magazine are the decision makers who are responsible for specifying and purchasing services and products for their organization. For more information about RFP please visit www.rfpmagazine.com. Copyright for this article resides with RFP Media Services Ltd. If you would like to reproduce the article in any form please contact the Publisher at cs@rfpmagazine.com.