A “property paradox” is taking shape as new CoreNet Global survey data shows a continuing trend of less space per person. The numbers also reveal an uptick in companies’ knowledge worker hiring levels.
The survey found that the average amount of space per worker globally today is currently 150 square feet or less and is likely to drop to 100 square feet or less for many companies within five years. In the survey, nearly 60 percent of the respondents said that employment levels are going to increase during the second half of 2013. Only 11 percent indicated that there would be a decrease.
In addition, more than 80 percent of the real estate leaders in the survey said that their firms had adopted an open space floor plan, with fewer cubes and individual offices. Nearly half said that they had more collaborative space than heads-down or private, focus space.
But along with today’s open, flexible, and more collaborative work settings comes more choice for spaces where we work. As with technology, workspace is also being consumerized. Just as technology spawned a consumer class of knowledge workers who now bring their own devices to the office, it has also enabled the consumerization of space on demand. Workers select temporary workspaces: the “third place” driven by the needs and location of the tasks to be accomplished.
The survey also revealed that we may well be on the verge of a collaborative space bubble, as nearly half of the respondents said that collaborative space is growing at the expense of focus work and privacy. That is why the concept of the third place is growing, and companies such as LiquidSpace and Marriott are at the forefront.
LiquidSpace is a technology company – one that has found the right application to guide individuals and teams into third places outside the office or home office in real time. It is an integrated geo-spatial, parametric tool like the technology that drives the Zipcar concept.
According to LiquidSpace founder and CEO Mark Gilbreath, “We thought of the professional working for a company as a consumer and began from their point of view imagining a service, a technology that could treat the consumer as the first individual to serve. We can enable them to have the ability to find and connect to workspace and meeting space on their terms, meaning when and where they needed it for the task at hand.”
The Marriott Corporation is entering the co-working niche with technology partners like LiquidSpace, which allows corporate people or freelancers to book space on demand in hundreds of locations across North America, and increasingly Europe and Asia-Pacific. Mobile workers can book workspace by the hour or by the day at participating Marriott properties.
LiquidSpace, and firms that offer similar services, are thriving because of the rapidly changing workplace paradigm. In fact, CoreNet Global advocates that companies ought to treat workplace strategy as a C-suite level function, since it encompasses nearly all corporate function, including real estate as well as human resources, information technology, finance, brand, among others.
In the survey, 45 percent of businesses said their companies ranked workplace strategy as a mission-critical function. That number will surely grow, and the companies that lag behind that metric do so at their own risk.