3 future-of-work developments that inspired us at WORKTECH 17 New York

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Every year, over 300 industry leaders from facility management to HR, technology to architectural design meet up at the annual WORKTECH conference in New York.

During the two-day event workplace professionals share not only their best practices but also their transformative visions of the workplace of tomorrow.

As one of the Masterclass sponsors of the event and workplace-enthusiasts, I took our US Business Development Manager Remi along to attend this year’s WORKTECH forum on 4-5 May 2017. Both days were filled with thought-provoking speeches and panel discussions.

In this blog article, we’d like to share the most inspiring insights we gained on what is around the corner at the intersection where technology, innovation and Real Estate meet.

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1. Rules of team engagement must change in the increasingly complex workplace

WORKTECH 17 started strong with former Navy SEAL O­fficer Chris Fussell’s opening speech on ‘Building a Team of Teams’.

His argument: While technology and human behavior changed profoundly in the past decades, organizations are still not able to keep up with the pace of disruption and are overwhelmed by the increasing complexity of today’s world.

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Former Navy SEAL Officer and a Partner at McChrystal Group, Chris Fussell

 

He referred to the Cynefin framework to illustrate that while hierarchical structured organizations perform well in ordered environments, a disruptive or disordered environment calls for a highly adaptable organizational structure instead.

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Cynefin framework

 

In order to be efficient in today’s military and corporate world Chris Fussell believes that the best organization is a network structure with small autonomous teams all linked to each other. One team in the center of the structure acts as Task Force.

I was inspired how he used the metaphor ‘gardener’ to explain the role of the task force within an organization! Its role is to prepare an ideal environment for all cells of the network to deliver the best of themselves.

This is exactly the type of company we are building as explained in one of my previous posts: 7 + 1 ways to tell if your company lives in the 21st century.

That idea made my day! Thank you Chris Fussells!

If you want to learn more about the subject, check out his New York Times Bestselling Book ‘Team of Teams’ in which he applies his experience on how the military copes with unpredictable change in the field to the modern workplace.

 

2. Digital transformation is a fancy word for the undeniable fusion of technology and workplace

If you know the startup world you have heard of FoodTech and FinTech. Attending WORKTECH convinced me that it’s now RealEstateTech time.

The Masterclass sessions of the second day of WORKTECH 17 offered intimate group settings in the beautiful NYC offices of the Boston Consulting Group.

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People checking in with Proxyclick at the front desk of BCG office in NYC

 

We were excited to exchange thoughts and stories in the panel discussion with other tech enablers from BCG, unwork, biAmp and PRYSM. I was happy to be on the panel with PRYSM as they are one of Proxyclick early-days customers in their California office.

All speakers agreed: digitalization has become so central in the workplace, that it is hard to imagine offices without it. I even argued that technology reached a stage where it became invisible.

It has become so normal to use technology that we hardly notice it anymore. Ten years ago, software was providing an overall solution for many tasks but was less flexible to its users’ needs. Nowadays, software focuses mainly on one task, but does it exceptionally well, matching exactly to the users’ individual problem to solve.

The focus on workplace technology software in 2017 is therefore on integration, enabling all systems to communicate with each other smoothly, providing a digitized workplace that helps teams perform their tasks well and intuitively.

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Tech enablers at the Boston Consulting Group Story panel discussion

 

Michael Advani from BCG pointed out in the discussion the philosophy of one of their developers: If a customer needs IT support; the product is not user-friendly enough.

 

3. Creating an environment in which human interactions are prone is a golden opportunity

Another highlight of the second day of WORKTECH 17 was when Ross Love and Michael Advani from BCG took the mic and reminded the group of the fundamentals of the workspace again.

As technology enthusiasts, we naturally get excited about yet another app that makes our work-life easier and provides the freedom to work from anywhere.

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From right to left: Shabih Syed, Graeme Harrison, Michael Advani, Rogier de Boer, Gregory Blondeau, Philip Ross

 

However, we should not forget the importance the physical workspace carries. I remember my first workspace at Siemens in Munich, my 20-people strong business unit was in one floor of a building, it was one corridor with 10 closed office doors…

20 years later BCG NYC offices are at the opposite of that: everything is open, staff members sit wherever they want, there is free drinks and free lunch for everyone and technology is clearly enabling this flexibility to happen.

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The two thought leaders shared that, since they moved to their new offices, the number of associates working from the office has increased significantly from 40% to 60%.

The office space offers various space options depending on your needs of the day. Even more importantly, it gives room for people to meet naturally and to start exchanging thoughts and ideas informally.

To quote Ross Love: “Workspace is about creating an environment in which human interactions are prone!”

I couldn’t agree more!

Technology + human + adaptability = successful workplace

Sitting in the plane back to our headquarters in Europe, my thoughts travelled back to WORKTECH 17.

Technology – Let’s use technology as the invisible helper to make our workplaces more efficient.

Human – With technology taking care of how work gets done, we humans can dedicate our time to a more important question: WHY

Adaptability – Faster than ever we must adapt to disruptive change. Do we want to run after it or do we want to create a workspace that allows us to take a leading role in the change we want to see in the world?

Are you a workplace or technology enthusiast? Let us know what future-of-work developments you are most excited about.

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