We had the opportunity to introduce Colliers’ Workplace Innovation folks to one of our clients the other day. The discussion included a few exceptional insights that will inform anybody who is thinking about the future of work. We talked about about how real estate decisions had been made historically and how the dynamics of the population are dictating a change in the status quo. There were a number of data points that are worth exploring including age demographics, workplace utilization, automation and collaboration.
By 2018, 50% of the workforce is going to be made up of millennials. These folks have been unfairly labeled as whiny and entitled by older generations. As a group, they want to engage in meaningful and fulfilling work. They aren’t interesting in paying their dues. What’s interesting is that the market suggests that they don’t have to. The demand for skilled knowledge workers will continue and there aren’t enough millennials to replace all of the retiring baby boomers.
Automation will absorb some of these jobs and we should anticipate the need to ensure that younger workers are well trained as fewer menial jobs will be available in the future. Anything that requires assembly or delivery will probably be automated as manufacturing, shipping, and logistics all become fully robotic in the next fifteen years.
People still need to collaborate and there is a need for interaction in the workplace. As knowledge work evolves it will require fungible teams that can be brought together quickly and dispersed just as rapidly. Facilities will need to offer this flexibility in work environments, technology, and accessibility. Companies have become more reliant on contract employees and need to offer flexibility as staffing needs change.
Every one of these items impacts real estate. Companies must look at their facilities as recruiting and retention tools. They have to offer environments that make work fulfilling engaging, and rewarding while also controlling costs and planning for a rapidly evolving future.