The activity-based workplace is happening right now. In addition, what Phil Kirschner calls Exclusivity Workplace is still very much present as well. Employees work exclusively in one office, the office serves one purpose, and exclusive managers get large offices. With varying workplace styles and these kinds of things happening now, how do we know what to expect next?
Kirschner claims that experience, hospitality, smart buildings, and wellness are all components to what the future is about. As a practitioner, Phil has to determine the best way to encapsulate all of these components to create the workplace of the future. With workplace effective surveys, employers have the ability to learn how to assess the aspects of effectiveness. Experience, however, is much harder to assess.
For WeWork, employee experience is assessed more on a community level. The thought is here is that we can experience things alone and have a positive outcome, so, experiencing things together is so much better. With a stronger community, the experience overall will be greater. Moving from the Exclusivity-based workplace to an activity-based, and then to the future of a connectivity-based workplace is a trend that we will see as time goes by.
A connectivity-based workplace is exactly what it sounds like: everything is connected. In the world of real estate and mobile workplaces, it includes being connected to rooms and to the ease of booking or reserving. It even branches outside to nature, which is related to design and wellness.
Connectivity to the company mission, transport and mobility, and learning opportunities are also a part of the concept. Most importantly, however, is being connected to one another as human beings. Creating a space in which everyone and everything is connected is the way of the future. From a technological standpoint, that problem is easy to solve.
When it comes to other aspects, many companies still have some figuring out to do. Looking to WeWork might offer some solutions. Phil notes that the office for WeWork he works in allows for some one-person work. The majority, however, is geared toward those that require connectivity, collaboration, and a team effort.
While that particular WeWork building is designed for that particular purpose, not all are. Departments and job roles that require a lot more one on one work would not thrive in a space like the one built for collaboration. Attempting to create one space that caters to both a collaborative culture and an individual workplace is incredibly difficult. When there are simpler options, such as creating separate spaces, employers may find the simple choice preferable.
Employers must be willing to play with the workplace to find the right mix for them. Groups that are willing to try new things have ways in which expense can be lessened in finding perfection. There are ways to change components weekly if needed with little to no effect on the budget. Making an effort to find the sweet spot is what it takes to have a successful working space.
Choice and autonomy are what Phil believes can add to productivity and employee experience. The focus must be placed on OPEX rather than CAPEX. The old saying, “If you build it, they will come,” does not apply here. The space must be compelling and be “on”. First, people must see the connectivity of the workplace. Any collaborative spaces should not be closed away in the back of the building.
By making connectivity-based spaces the biggest and most obvious component, it will get used. With that, employees will be able to accomplish more and experience more in a positive light. It is this space that creates a community and a community that influences productivity and employee experience.
Should real estate professionals aim to be a consultant or a practitioner? Is there one that’s better than the other? Kirschner explains that it’s incredibly difficult to teach a consultant what it’s like to be an occupier in the real estate world. On the flip side, a practitioner can be turned into a consultant. With that knowledge, Phil introduces a whole new way of doing things in the workplace. It’s that knowledge that can turn careers from workplace practitioner roles to functioning real estate professionals.
A hybrid version of consulting and practitioner roles is a consultant that is embedded. This role is one that allows real estate professionals to do their assigned jobs within the office and gain access to others that are seeing problems and other aspects of the industry. It creates a sense of awareness that is otherwise unavailable from a career professional in one role or the other. The joining of the two components into one allows a single person to have knowledge of both sides.
One important point that Kirschner brings up is that a consultant must be present for a long time to see the end result of the work that is put in. However, motivation is found in seeing forward momentum, especially for the most driven individuals. Because of this, utilizing smaller measurements over a shorter period of time grants those people to keep going. It takes away the boredom of waiting.
Breaking that model, according to Kirschner, allows you to see that you’re moving in the right direction. Being close to a service provider is compelling because it offers the ability to see more events concurrently. It’s that factor that keeps things interesting and people engaged in the workplace.
With a background in technology and a few lucky breaks, Phil Kirschner found himself with a successful career in workplace. His journey started in information security and technology risk, but with the loss of job opportunities in NYC with the events of September 11, 2001, aiming for a career in cybersecurity offered him more in terms of hiring.
With cybersecurity moved to the top of his resume, Phil was hired by Credit Suisse and stayed in the position for 5 years prior to moving to the expense and efficiency management group around the time of The Great Recession. It was when the team was assigned to a full mobility workplace project for the company that Kirschner was introduced to workplace strategy.
Since Phil’s original experience with workplace, he has learned solely by doing. Today, as the Vice President of Enterprise Experience and Workplace Strategy at WeWork, Kirschner has vast knowledge created by various experiences to share with others.
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What are OPEX and CAPEX? OPEX is Operating Expense and CAPEX is Capital Expenditure. The definition of OPEX is the cost of running a business, product, or system. CAPEX is the money spent to maintain, improve, or buy its assets.
What is activity-based workplace? The idea of an activity-based workplace is to provide employees a variety of choices for a place to accomplish work. This might mean a private office, conference rooms, or a fully collaborative space. (Check out our article Hot-desking Vs. Activity-Based Working to learn more)
What is WeWork? WeWork is a real estate company that has taken the world by storm in the last decade. It aims to provide shared workspaces and offices for various startups across the globe.
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