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CRE Opinion

Embracing the Workplace of the Future

Great things are ahead, for those who don't hang on to the past.

There is much made of the differences between generations. One common refrain is how millennials are changing the way we work. All too soon, the millennials will be middle-aged—they’ll start turning 40 next year—and everyone will be talking about how GenZ (or iGen) is revolutionizing the workplace.

Ran Holman, Cushman & Wakefield

The truth is, how we work has been constantly evolving. Coworking is just another iteration of this evolution. Long before the millennials were on this earth, we were already looking at how the advent of mobile computing and ubiquitous bandwidth would support concepts like virtual offices and “hoteling.” When the future got here, as always, it looked different than we had thought. Just as surely as flying cars, wristwatch phones, and robots in the home are different than in George Jetson’s world.

Evolution of business is a good thing. Healthy environments make for happy employees. And happy employees are good for business. So, don’t think we have arrived at a static state of the art. We haven’t. What we have found is a different way of doing what we did before. And, because the competition for talent is so strong, we have blurred the lines between work and play, which makes the experiential aspect of the workplace so important.

What other changes are ahead? The most visible thing is autonomous driving. Not just because you’ll be able to read the paper on the drive in to work, but also because it will have a real impact on traffic, the auto industry, the transportation industry, land use, construction costs, and home design, just to name a few.

Some think autonomous driving is a long way off. It isn’t. It is coming. In fact, many office developers are already considering how to adapt to lower parking demands in the future. Structured and buried parking is very expensive. If you look around, despite the high occupancies and dense space utilizations in Dallas, the upper decks of most office parking garages are already empty. Ride sharing will make this even more apparent.

Over time, autonomous ride sharing will impact urban land use as well. If you drive your car one hour a day, that means that expensive hunk of metal sits unutilized 96 percent of the time. There already are many who let go of their personal vehicles in favor of ride-sharing services. This trend will likely continue.

Who knows what else is out there? But it is coming. And the key is to embrace it and make it work for you. An open mind is not necessarily a product of youth, although it often tends to be. Great things are ahead for those who don’t hang on to the past. To quote Carly Simon, “These are the good old days.”

Ran Holman is the managing principal at Cushman & Wakefield.

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