Remember when work meant being in the office from nine to five, using a desktop computer, and sitting in a cubicle? Well, the traditional workplace is changing. Offices are no longer productivity factories designed for individual task work. They are a blend of physical and virtual environments that encourage team collaboration. And offer workers choice to work from anywhere, anytime, on any device.

  • According to the Harvard Business Review, the average vacancy of commercial office space during business hours in the United States is 50% and in Europe 70%.
  • More than 80% of corporate real estate executives believe having a workplace strategy is important to company performance, reports CEB.
  • In a workplace article by Forbes they shared that 66% of millennials in the United States feel that an organization that adopts a flexible, mobile, and remote working model has a competitive advantage over organizations that require employees to be in the office from 9am to 5pm every weekday.

Several trends are influencing workers today including globalization, a rising millennial workforce, social media, and mobile technologies. Designing a workplace based on people, space, and technology can help cultivate engagement, productivity, and cost savings.

A great example of a workplace strategy in action is here at Cisco. By converting cubicle rowed environments into collaborative workspaces, they are providing workers with space choices to meet an individual’s work style.  From audio privacy rooms to team gathering spaces, the office environment helps encourage interaction at a variety of levels.


If you build it, they will come. Here are some tips to get you started.

People: Provide flexible work policies that support workers’ choices for individual preferences. “The more workspace types and technology options you can provide, the more workers will feel in control,” says Alan McGinty, Senior Director, Global Workplace Innovation Group. “Choice enhances engagement, productivity, and well-being.”

Consider ergonomic requirements, quiet space, and team collaboration needs. Include employees in the design process. Learn about your organization’s business challenges. In other words, put yourself in their shoes. You can learn about what helps them be more productive — and build better relationships in the process.

Australian company Telstra is a great example of how incorporating collaborative work options can drive employee engagement.

Space: Support a diversity of work styles and create areas that encourage interaction. A Cushman & Wakefield workplace transformation survey revealed that “for a majority of companies planning new workplace initiatives, design change is the most important consideration in their strategy. Open plan architecture, flexible layouts, and furniture solutions, as well as reducing the amount of space per person ranked high for increasing collaboration.”

Technology: Blending physical and virtual environments by incorporating voice, video, and data technologies can reduce travel expense and real estate needed for office space. Incorporating mobile devices and cloud technologies into the mix will further empower employees.

Workplace transformation is in its early stages. It’s a great time to look ahead and evaluate your space needs for the next few years. Beyond the real estate aspect, consider how combining people, space, and technology can improve business.

Interested in learning more?
Peruse the How-to-Guide on creating collaborative workplaces.


Sandra Acham

No Longer with Cisco