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Partner with IT to Build the Workplace of the Future

I’m a huge advocate for flexible work practices including the ability to work from wherever and whenever you want, and think those who attempt to run businesses the ‘old fashioned’ way will fall behind if they fail to recognize the effects of mobility in both their workforce and their bottom lines.

The impact of mobility became clear to us when we discovered that space utilization of our own 22.5Mft2 global property was just at 50 percent. And it’s not just happening at Cisco. According to a CoreNet study, nearly 60 percent of a company’s desks are vacant at any given time and the growing mobility trend is a major reason why. Taking all of this into consideration, I think the question that corporate real estate and facilities leaders need to focus on is, “why aren’t we working with IT leaders to build the workplace of the future?”

Mobility and the Changing Landscape

Most employees can now work from anywhere on any device and have access to most content.  We’re seeing this “wherever you are is your office” trend actually increases productivity and I would even argue that employees who don’t commute actually work more hours on company business. With mobility and bring your own device (BYOD) taking such a strong hold within the workplace, data collection has been accelerating at an exponential rate – so much so that by 2018, global mobile data traffic will increase nearly 11-fold, reaching 15.9 exabytes per month. Simplification of access to “Big Data” is where IT can bring the most value and productivity to the work force, and will play a vital role in shaping what the workplace of the future looks like.

With fewer people working in physical offices, companies must find a way to better utilize unused space. As my colleague Carl Wiese pointed out last month, partnering with IT can make a huge difference in cost savings, as workplace-related costs are usually among a company’s top three expense items. IT executives can help influence lower cost structures by:

  • Simplifying employee connectivity through corporate social collaboration tools
  • Allowing employees to bring their own devices to work (BYOD)
  • Taking advantage of cloud data center capabilities

A shared-workspace is one approach where IT can help companies reduce the space needed per employee by more than 30 percent, while simultaneously reducing energy by 44 percent, as Carl also points out in his blog.

Businesses can also benefit from corporate real estate and HR executives engaging their IT peers in a conversation about re-envisioning existing work places. These “new” workplace environments will rely on:

  • A solution set of different space types to meet the needs of different work styles
  • A substantial and ever-evolving technology integration set that combines enterprise platforms
  • A variety of user access devices as well as voice, video and social media collaboration platforms

With the help of IT, companies can improve the workforce by providing the tools and technologies necessary as they become more mobile. At the same time, IT executives must also maintain a strong vision of what emerging technologies can mean to a business’ future.  Corporate real estate executives should look to IT leaders to provide thought leadership around new technologies and collaboration tools that may positively impact the work environment.

The future workplace will become a beehive of collaboration and face-to-face communication, supported by a new definition of what the workspace looks like. Corporate real estate, human resources and IT can build a stronger workforce through strong partnerships and flexible work policies that inspire employees to be their most productive selves.

So, how will your organization prepare the workplace of the future?

For more information on how your business can get ready for the future workplace, visit Cisco’s collaboration page.

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