SINGAPORE, 18 September 2018 – Colliers International (NASDAQ: CIGI; TSX: CIGI), a global leader in commercial real estate services today released its latest insights report Flex, Core and the Cloud: A Blueprint for the Future Asia Pacific Workplace. The report, based on field research and interviews with some of the world’s leading organisations in the technology, financial services and FMCG industries, addresses the adoption of cloud technology in companies’ workforce models and broader implications for productivity and employee well-being.

Cloud computing, fuelled by Internet of Things (IoT), has given rise to a new era of real estate possibilities for Asia Pacific companies and their workforces. By allowing firms to store and process virtually limitless amounts of data remotely, the cloud is enabling what Colliers International terms the Internet of the Workplace (IoW) – a digitally integrated enterprise architecture that exists in the virtual as well as the physical realm, connecting employees and allowing them to collaborate regardless of location.

According to Rob Wilkinson, Associate Director, Corporate Solutions APAC: “Applying the IoW gives enterprises the ability to ‘cloud their workforce’ -- adopting decentralised structures that mirror the cloud computing environment, based around multiple remote teams that can be rapidly combined or scaled as needed, rather than a large central office. This can make companies more agile and cost-effective, with positive impacts for employee well-being and productivity.”

Like any transformation, clouding the workforce can prove disruptive for enterprises and the commercial real estate industry, forcing landlords and occupiers to adapt to new demands. Through careful planning and the right approaches companies can navigate this disruption while capturing the benefits of the cloud.

“Some companies are investing in equipment such as interactive whiteboards, video-conferencing facilities and chat platforms, and making changes to the physical space such as ‘decoupling’ employees from permanent desks in a move towards Activity Based Working (ABW), utilising flexible workspace in a flex and core model, or developing open-plan offices to foster spontaneity and collaboration across teams,” added Mr. Wilkinson.

Four stages on the IoW curve
1) Traditional
- Core operations/employees concentrated in a central location 
- Data/IT services stored, managed and delivered via in-house physical infrastructure   
- Employees have dedicated workspaces and rarely or never shift teams or locations 

2) Transitioning 
- Key administrative functions and critical technology infrastructure based in a central location 
- Employees connected, and some data/IT services delivered via public or private cloud  
- Employees occasionally work on different teams or at different locations; enterprise provides limited IoT infrastructure to support occasional virtual teams  

3) IoW Adopter

- Technology infrastructure is almost entirely cloud-based
- Core business functions spread across multiple hubs that scale according to business needs 
- Hubs employ BYOD and IoT technologies to enhance the working environment, and enable employees to work freely across teams and locations   

4) IoW Powered 
- All technology infrastructure is cloud-based
- No central location exists; employees log in independently from various IoT-optimised flexible workspaces or their homes  
- Employees form teams dynamically in response to business demands, using online platforms and collaboration tools to communicate, cooperate and achieve goals 

Exercise caution
Despite the obvious benefits of IoW models, IoT by definition comes with a compromise on data security and companies’ increasing reliance on connected technologies creates heightened security risks, making data protection a significant challenge. A recent study showed, with more enterprises adopting BYOD policies, one in three CIOs in Hong Kong see their own employees as the organisation’s biggest security vulnerability. 

Impact for Occupiers & Landlords
- Occupiers
*Determine which business services or processes would be more cost-effective and efficient to deliver via the cloud, and develop a roadmap for cloud migration 
*Consider adopting a BYOD policy and encouraging employees to work remotely where feasible 
*Adopt IoW technologies, and minimise or reduce the number of dedicated workspaces, to make offices more scalable and encourage cross-team collaboration 
*Develop an overarching plan for the clouding of the workforce, overseen by a cross-functional team

- Landlords
*Develop more flexible lease structures and spaces to accommodate changes in occupier demands 
*Ensure buildings and office spaces are designed in a way to respond to rapid changes in occupier headcount 
*Consider alliances with flexible workspace operators to enhance the flexibility of their property portfolio 
*Evaluate whether the technical infrastructure of properties is sufficient to support IoW models 

To download the full report, visit here.