The business of change – insights from the CoreNet Global Summit

By Hannah Mellow on 14 October 2015
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Spacelab attended the CoreNet Global Summit in London on 17 and 18 September 2015. The theme of the conference was Disruptive innovation – the business of change and topics included wellbeing, leadership development, innovation, emerging markets, the future of corporate real estate, workplace culture, big data and change.

We attended a number of sessions and share our insights below on some of the topics and what they mean for those designing a workspace.

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The business of change

Some speakers addressed the topic of change in terms of how to manage it, others discussed the evolution of the Global Corporate Real Estate (CRE) function, while others looked at change in terms of technology, the supply chain, climate change and emerging markets.

Dr Philip Stiles from Cambridge Judge Business School shared his work on Change Management, the difficulties with the traditional change model and some ‘solutions’ (his speech marks, not ours). The difficulties that Dr Stiles addressed have deeper implications for space. Some difficulties include ‘the continuing hierarchies of power’ – also known as bureaucracy – and the ‘narcissism of small difference’ – for example how the size of an individual’s office, a parking space close to the entrance, or the view from the office window marks a person’s seniority. He explained that both are barriers to change as people are inherently hierarchical and concerned about the trappings that come with a position of power. This can cause implications when designing a workspace. For example, a CRE professional may enlist a company like Spacelab to conduct a workplace study with the objective to manipulate their existing space to reduce costs or increase engagement. The results of the study may indicate open plan or agile working as a means for meeting the objective. However, resistance, especially from those in positions of power, is likely. How can the CRE professional address these difficulties when designing the optimal space? Stiles suggests a possible solution. Nudging, in other words the power of social pressure. But how can social pressure be used, for example, to encourage senior executives out of their private offices into an open plan space? Concrete examples where industry peers and prominent business leaders have adapted and changed to ensure the long-term success of their businesses may just be the nudge that gives these professionals the confidence or ambition to adapt to a new way of using space.

What’s changed for the CRE function?

The subject of change was also addressed in a panel discussion, The evolution of the global CRE function, with Vincent Lottefier, JLL; Dirk Schubert, Deutsch Bank; Jonathan Turner, Honeywell; Roman Journo, Cisco; and Marc Simon, Dassault Systems. Three surveys conducted by JLL since 2010 show how the concerns of industry professionals have changed over time. In 2010, concerns were primarily focused on the global financial crisis, the increasing visibility of the CRE function in organisations and subsequent pressures to reduce costs. In 2012, with Wall Street making a comeback, there was an increasing interest in emerging markets and for cost savings to be measurable. When it came to the 2014 survey, data analytics were the principle concern as the CRE function experiences increasing pressure from the C-Suite to reduce costs and demonstrate effectiveness. So what does this mean for space? Cost savings, increased visibility and data analytics means that every inch of space needs to show its value and its worth for the organisation. A company’s workspace not only needs to work for the organisation now but also be flexible enough to respond to changes in the working environment, markets and technology for years to come. Data is playing an increasingly important role in workplace design and specialist workplace studies are essential to ensure that an organisation’s space is working to meet the needs of the business and its people.

Big data and predicting the changing workplace

Past data can be used to predict future changes to the workplace. A panel discussion with Derrick Bock, ebay inc; Kelly Funk, IA Interior Architects; Monica Parker, HATCH; and Brad Szpakowski, IA Interior Architects about What’s predictive analytics got to do with it? How algorithms and analytics are changing the workplace discussed how in future, the way the CRE function uses data will move beyond being solely descriptive to predictive.

Big data is no longer just about the now. We can use existing data to understand our clients and markets, identify workplace trends and future changes in behaviours. This insight into the future needs of the business means that we can be more strategic when designing a space to ensure we meet the needs of the business now and going forward. In an ever more complex and constantly changing world it’s important for CRE professionals to demonstrate to their seniors the long-term value they can add to the business. At Spacelab we have a database of evidence built up across almost a decade of research into workplace environments and dynamics. This allows us to predict the best use of space to meet our clients’ business objectives and ensure the success of a project, now and in future.

Topics: workplace, analytics, corporate real estate, predictive, value, long-term, data, cambridge judge, cisco, cre, management, design, ebay, hatch, honeywell, space, evidence, big data, change, corenet, dassault systems, deutsch bank, evolution, function, spacelab, survey