Meet the Minds – Digital Natives are changing the way we work, NOW WHAT? – By Ed Kooijman

If you are the leader of a company, there is one thing you can be absolutely sure of: your ability to attract and retaining Digital Natives is critical for the survival of your company.

12CU – MEET THE MINDS NR 2

This week was my turn to write a Meet the Minds article. So let me start by introducing myself! My name is Ed Kooijman, head of operations ar 12CU. The reason why I am so interested in Smart Building Technologies is that Smart Building Technologies is all about developing tools that help us understand human behaviour and the way we work and as individuals and as a whole ecosystem in offices. I have worked in IT and Supply Chain for over 25 years internationally. I guess you could say I am a veteran in the IT sector. Above all I am future-oriented and so my choice for the subject of this article was simple. Always, when something new makes its appearance, my first question is: can you show me?!

I wanted to write a response to our own Digital Native’s piece by posing the following question:

DIGITAL NATIVES ARE CHANGING THE WAY WE WORK, AND NOW WHAT?

In order to avoid the discussion whether the generation entering our corporations qualifies exactly as a Digital Native, the least can agree on is that the generation now entering our corporations, workspaces and teams is the generation who consider online media as their main source for information, they see new media as a perfectly normal channel to build relationships on and their tech Saffy workstyle allows for virtual teamwork easily. Ten years from now, Digital Natives will form the backbone of our organizations and many traditional organizations will have digitally native leaders.

THE FUTURE-ORIENTED ORGANIZATION

In what type of companies will these employees be working anyway? Nearly three out of four of the Fortune 1,000 companies have been replaced in the last 10 years, and more than half of the Fortune 500 will cease to exist in the next decade.

Future-oriented organizations are trying to get nimbler, increasingly turning to on-demand workers to fulfil specific needs. Future-oriented organizations have increasingly prioritized designing entrepreneurial and flexible cultures that empower employees with more autonomy and more freedom of choice in order to attract and retaining the right talent (JLL, 2018 World Forum). Who do we mean when we say “The right talent”, well that’s simple: we are talking about the Digital Natives.

ADAPTING TO ATTRACT AND SURVIVE

If you are the leader of a company, there is one thing you can be absolutely sure of: your ability to attract and retaining Digital Natives is critical for the survival of your company.  My guess is that you better get prepared early rather than late when it comes to adopting your company to these new entrepreneurial and flexible cultures.

Already in 2012, Marie Puybaraud from JLL’s research identified the needs of this new generation of workers :

  1. BYOT – Bring your own technology: Digital Natives are comfortable bringing their personal equipment to the office, such as laptops, iPads, and smartphones.
  2. Always connected: The use of light portable and mobile technologies allows for a high level of mobility and efficiency in the workplace.
  3. No loss of transition from home to work: The smooth integration of technologies while in the office, such as WiFi access, booking systems, and 3G video conferencing, will allow workers to easily transition work from the office to their homes.
  4. Consumer technologies in the office: Where possible, organizations should move away from corporate IT solutions to consumer-friendly ones to adapt to the use of employees’ personal technologies and devices in the workplace.
  5. Social networking-friendly solutions: Allow workers to build and maintain a social network while at work to share knowledge and foster communities.
  6. Collaborative solutions: Provide solutions that allow workers to collaborate with one another wherever they are, at any time.

NOW: CHANGE YOUR CORPORATE CULTURE?

How can we implement this in such a way you can build it into your company’s culture, office and working environments. Let’s brainstorm for a bit, by looking at some extremes.

One extreme: having no office at all. You work where best suits you and your team, this could literally be any location. Already today, some software development teams or product development teams go to (sometimes exotic) locations to develop a product in a pressure cooker type environment. Great fun and hard work.

Another extreme: create a 100% versatile office. The office has a fixed location but is adjusted permanently, depending on need. Month by month, size, zoning and services adapt to needs. You still have the benefits of strong (corporate) IT infrastructure, e.g. for secure data access. Traditional offices of many corporations are gradually transitioning in this direction.

Or how about this one: Lets mix and match Office and public space. Parts of the building are for public use, eg. shops, childcare, coffee bars. Other parts are for employees only, or mixed zones where guests are able to work in a more formal environment with more advanced services. You already see examples of this in the newly designed head-offices of organizations opening their doors in downtown areas.

ONE SIMPLE QUESTION: WHAT DO WE NEED IN ORDER TO START?

The common issue in all these situations is planning. All this flexibility increases the need to have the predictive capability for (a type of) office use. Traditionally we plan using spreadsheets and have facility managers work out future office needs. That won’t suffice here. We will have to predict office needs based on behavioural patterns. The best prediction of how we behave in the future is how we behave in the present.   For example, the question: when do we go to work? The answer depends on whether we have young children or not, whether we live nearby, our hobbies, type of work, age, means of transportation, weather and so on.  

When you understand how behaviour translates to office use, you can start building the predictive models linking those triggers to workspace needs. This is a complex task but fortunately, these models are now constructed using machine learning. In practice, 12CU software is already doing this for you. You install the machine learning algorithms. Day by day, 12CU Office Analyzer will gather office traffic data and built a predictive model matching the behaviour of the buildingś occupants. Sounds like a far in the future type of scenario? Well, It has just begun.

12CU Office Analytics. Real-time. Big Data. Simple.

Meet the Minds – Do we still need a head office? – By Michelle van Weverwijk

Digital Natives are our future and will come to redefine corporate conduct. Furthermore, they are the sole segment able to ease us into the digitalization about to happen.

JUST IMAGINE

Just close your eyes for a moment and envision yourself sitting in a car. You turn around to pack up your bag while the car effortlessly manoeuvres through traffic and pulls over. You glance at your wrist to find your virtual assistant who conveniently plotted a path through the crowds of pedestrian traffic to your 3:00 pm meeting. You slip past the groups of people in line grabbing your pre-ordered and paid for coffee at the counter to your left. Heading for the office, you answer a call, hardly noticing the music emanating from a boutique across the hall softening as you pass by. You walk past a robotic concierge and enter your office. The lights blink on and immediately adjust to the morning glare. The temperature rises just a few degrees — exactly the way you like it.
Now open your eyes and look around. Don’t you think, our offices seem rather different to you? And doesn’t it surprise you that we are living in an age where technology would be able to change our work environment for the better? And doesn’t that raise the question: “Why aren’t we making a change?”

Whether the above-described scenario sounds like a fantastical science fiction story isn’t even a relevant question. With the rise of Smartoffice technology, trends like the IoT and our growing dependence upon technology, it will just be a matter of time until even corporate conduct has become completely automated.

DO WE STILL NEED A HEAD OFFICE?

The real question you should be asking is: Is my building and are my people ready for the digitalization about to come, and if not, how can I ready myself for the change, along the way? It was questions like: “What changes will the new generation bring?” “How can we protect our privacy in this digital age?” and last of all: “Do we still need a head office?” we discussed during the Innovation Exchange. We decided to run with the latter. It combined the influence of the new generation on the way we all work with the challenge increased prices in retail brings along. Due to great success, we wanted to extend the theme of future change in order to share some of our own insights and perspectives.

With every change, there’s a driver, this is often a portion of society, introducing different needs and a new perspective on the future. Take the time to reflect on society for a little bit. Today, technology drives change in the way we work, communicate, travel, hang out with our friends and family, basically any fascet in our lives. Now, who’s the true driver behind these changes? We find ourselves in a transition phase where every generation faces a battle to adjust. For a significant part of the western population, including generation Baby Busters up to even the generation Digital Immigrants, the exhilarated changes in technology trigger only discomfort.

THE NEW GENERATION

Now let me introduce you to myself. My name is Michelle van Weverwijk and I am 12CU’s own Digital Native. 

A digital native is born and brought up during the age of digital technology. We are so familiar with computers, software solutions, continual connectivity and living a life dominated by technology that concepts like big data and IoT do not intimidate they rather intrigue. My generation might just be the driver of change that will guide us all into a fully digitalized society.

You could wonder why 12CU asked me to publish an article on the new generation. The answer, however, is fairly simple:
We are in the business of smart office technology and Digital Natives are redefining corporate conduct as we speak, and they are the sole segment of society able to ease us into the digitalization that is about to happen.

I, a Digital Native, work where I want, when I want, online or offline, I am always on the go, share one small laptop with a million others, and can’s stand to work in the same place for I’ll feel limited and confined. This behaviour sparked the question: Do we actually need a head office in the near future?

LET’S LOOK AT SOME NUMBERS

Now, saying that solely Digital Natives show a need for a flexible work environment is way too simplistic to believe. The funny thing we at 12CU actually found after reflecting on how our working styles are changing, is that we all show signs of the digital native’s struggle to fit into the traditional workplace.

Research showed that only 25% of your workers state that they are in an optimal workplace environment. The remainder of your employees is struggling to work effectively in the same circumstance (Gensler, 2013). Cornell’s (2017) study of 320 SME, showed Employers who allow for a flexible work style grew four times faster and had an extra 1/3 in turnover compared to more controlling forms. Last, of all Over 30% of Dutch employees work 80-100% of their work hours outside the office, and this number is increasing.

We can see all these changes in both behaviour and technology happen across the industries and its effect is truly mesmerizing. Changing needs, driven by the Digital Natives, show our office building need to change alongside us. We need an environment that allows for flexibility and a fast-paced workstyle. We seek to be in control over our own work environment and not to have these four walls control us! Do you still think we are exaggerating the influences of these changes on your own workplace and workforce? Feest your eyes on the following statistics! We, at 12CU, took a critical look at corporate conduct and found the following shocking results:

Meeting rooms are booked 90% of the time yet used only 60% of the time. People tend to book in advance yet the need for flexibility often results in a change of pre-made plans – simply put that means money and space are wasted for no good reason. The average office occupancy rate is about 45-50%. We all know how expensive real estate has become these days (1 workplace presents approximately 10 K EUR/year), once again a lot of money is wasted.

THE TRANSFORMATION

Do not get me wrong, I am not demanding for you all to close the doors to your offices and move your business to the coffee place across the street! All I mean to say is that we need to bring out the full potential in our people. In order to do so, we need to understand our buildings so we can help it adapt to the needs of our people. We at 12CU believe that a building has the potential to be flexible enough to create a suited environment for the Digital Native as well as to lower the barrier for technology among the older generation. We even dear to take it one step further! We combine artificial intelligence with experience in corporate conduct to help transform your building into the best secretary you’ve ever had.

Your building will be able to tell you:
1
When a suited workplace has freed up.
2
When to actually stay home and meet colleagues digitally.
3
When to get up and take the elevator.
4
Where to turn off the lights
5
Options are limitless

See, the initially described scenario isn’t as “far-fetched” as you might think! It’s just the matter of finding the right partner with the propper toolbelt. We at 12CU don’t see the sense in creating workarounds for the problems flooding our workplace, suffocating our people, and wasting our money. We’d rather save on costs, optimize office space and support all generations in their individual styles of work. Call us a driver, call us a Digital Native or simply call us out of our minds. But to us the road to progress is simple. We have already started transforming over 20 000 workplaces by means of our self-learning algorithm.

The first step is understanding your people and how they use your office space. Understanding will allow you to make decisions based on reality. To answer the initial question:

INDEED NO WE DON’T NEED A HEAD OFFICE WE NEED A PARTNER INSTEAD

12CU Office Analytics. Real-time. Big Data. Simple.