Cloud-enabled workforce models to disrupt and shape future Asia Pacific workplaces

Cloud computing, fueled by Internet of Things (IoT), has given rise to a new era of real estate possibilities for Asia Pacific companies and their workforces

Landlords, occupiers need to rethink operating strategies according to changing workforce models and demands says a Colliers Research

Colliers International 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, fueled 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.

“With physical infrastructure struggling to keep pace with the ever-advancing technology, the need to be ‘connected’ has never been more important. Remote working and access to data are forefront in firms becoming efficient and agile. Flex & Core is a pioneering concept, which allows firms to commit only to a certain per cent of real estate whilst keeping flexibility to increase or decrease their portfolio depending on the ever-changing business environment”, says Ritesh Sachdev, Senior Executive Director, Occupier Services at Colliers International India.

With a Seven per cent share of total leasing volume in H1 2018, flexible workspace operators are making their presence felt in the market. Besides its cost-effectiveness and flexibility, use of flexible space is becoming more popular due to increasing uncertainty among occupiers regarding their future headcount growth. One expects the co-working concept to continue expanding notably in cities such as Mumbai, Bengaluru and NCR.

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.

The four stages on the IoW curve are:

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 to 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.

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