The Future of the TMT Workplace
Unwork & Cushman and Wakefield are proud to announce the publication of their joint report, The Future of The TMT Workplace, looking at how players in the technology, media and telecoms sector can future-proof their workplaces for the age of digital disruption. The launch event for the report took place on 21 January 2016 at the Ham Yard Hotel in West London.
Video highlights of the report are available here:
The Drivers of Change
This report sets out how TMT players can use their workplaces to future-proof their businesses. It identifies five forces that are driving TMT players to fundamentally rethink their workplace and real estate strategies:
1. Transformation. Accelerated adoption curves and shortening product lifecycles means that competitive advantage in the TMT sector is increasingly derived form an organisation’s ability to develop new products and services to unlock new sources of growth. Workplaces, location strategies and the composition of workforces at TMT players are all changing to accommodate the new products and services that companies in the sector are developing.
2. Disruption. New applications of technology, the falling costs of computational power and the availability of platforms to easily build, distribute and market new products is empowering the rise of disruptive new entrants to the sector. Young companies and new business units can scale rapidly, making it harder to develop strategies for the long term. In this context, forecasting workplace and real estate requirements is a significant challenge – as one corporate real estate professional for a large technology company told us, ‘technology moves quickly; property doesn’t.’ Increasing the flexibility of their portfolios is a key priority for the companies we spoke to.
3. Cities. Concentrations of customers and talent in cities are drawing TMT players to base their operations inside urban locations, rather than in out of town ones. Cities can act as testbed for new technologies for TMT companies, but heads of real estate need to be able to identify which cities have the deepest talent pools, best universities, most vibrant startup ecosystems and established networks of peer companies.
4. Emerging Markets. The shift in economic dynamism from the developed economies of the West to the emerging economies of the developing world is leading TMT companies to think more seriously about their emerging market strategies. These countries not only offer huge opportunities for growth, but also deep pools of talent. While this makes them attractive locations for TMT firms, they’re also home to ferocious local competition that developed market firms will have to tackle head on.
5. Talent. There’s a war going on for top technical talent. Demands for developers, data analysts and engineers already outstrips supply, and as technology is high up on the agenda of businesses beyond the TMT sector, the competition for talent is growing more intense. Furthermore, the generational divide between younger coders, who tend to be proficient in different programming languages, is leading to an impending skills gap for many companies. Attracting the right talent is driving decisions about location and workplace.
How TMT Players are Responding
The way that TMT players respond to the five forces will determine their ability to create leading workplaces, maintain competitive advantage and be successful in the future. There are four areas in which leading TMT players are using their workplace and real estate strategies to future-proof their businesses.
1. The Changing Role of Workplaces. Recognising that developing new products and services requires a departure from ‘business as usual’, many TMT players are creating specialist workplaces where ideas can be developed faster. Accelerator and incubator spaces are becoming a key component of real estate strategies as companies attempt to work more closely with startups and high growth companies to fast-track product development. Leading players are also designing workplaces which encourage interactions between different employees in the hope that new idea will emerge from ‘bump’ moments between specialists from different business units.
2. Agile Workplaces and Flexible Real Estate. With the break-neck pace of technological change making it harder to accurately forecast workplace and real estate requirements, heads of real estate need to understand how they can increase the agility and flexibility of their portfolios. Moving from allocations of space that rely on ‘one person, one desk’ can unlock significant space savings by freeing up under-occupied space and allow growing businesses to scale without expanding their footprints. Flexible offices are also becoming a core part of property strategies in the sector as companies look to limit long-term lease liabilities and quickly ramp up their operations in new markets.
3. Location strategies for the Future. With cities becoming the engine of growth for TMT companies, leading firms are increasing their footprints in urban locations in both the developed and emerging world. As a wave of new TMT hubs emerges in developing markets like China, India and sub-Saharan Africa, new locations for functions like research and product development are arising in unfamiliar locations. TMT firms require detailed city-by-city metrics on growth projections, demographics, talent pools, local universities, infrastructure and competitors to make location decisions. They also need to think about how they can partner with universities and city governments, and distribute work across the operations of their various locations.
4. Workplaces and Talent. Winning the war for talent is driving decisions about where TMT players locate, what kinds of work environments they create, and the range of amenities and services they build into their workplaces. In the near future, however, demand for talent will require companies in the sector to think about how they can tap talent from more diverse backgrounds and make the leadership of their organisations more representative of the generations they employ. With the supply of younger workers dwindling in most developed economies, programmes to attract and retrain older workers and increase levels of female participation are key to success.
What TMT Players Need to do Next
What TMT Players Need to Do Next
The pace of change in the TMT sector will only increase in the next few years, underscoring the urgency for companies to transform their workplaces and realign real estate strategies. We identify three ways in which heads of property at TMT companies can set in motion a number of processes to begin to future-proof their workplaces and companies.
1. Scenario Plan. In an increasingly volatile competitive environment, it’s more important than ever that property teams spend more time planning for ‘what if’ scenarios – ‘what if we acquire a business of 2,000 people?’, ‘what if our new business unit exceeds growth expectations?’, ‘what if we need to streamline our portfolio?’ This will significantly speed up decision making when it’s needed most.
2. Build Flexibility. Change is the only constant in the TMT sector. To thrive in times of turbulence, directors of property need to focus on making their real estate portfolios as flexible as possible. Modular workplaces that can be easily refitted to new roles and workstyles are essential, as the products, services and composition of employees at TMT firms is set to change significantly over the course of the next few years.
3. Align Workplace Strategy with Corporate Strategy. Workplace and real estate strategy must be totally aligned with business strategy. Without frequent discussions between the property team and the business leadership, companies can’t create work environments to support the aims of the business. Heads of property must take a more active role in the leadership of the company, and the c-suite must take a more active interest in workplace and real estate.
To find out more about how the future of the financial workplace will impact your business, please contact Owen King.