Jan 8, 2024
7 mins read
Future of Work
In a recent fireside chat with Dr. Gleb Tsipursky, Flexspace CEO Eyal Lasker chatted about how hybrid work fosters productivity, innovation, and creativity.
Additionally, they discussed office space utilization and the role of AI, which could dramatically change the future of work and the office as we know it.
Flexspace (FS): What’s the future of commercial real estate or the office if hybrid is the future (which we know it is)?
Dr. Gleb: Early in the pandemic, when I was helping companies figure out their return-to-office plans, the problem in those initial stages was just telling employees to come to the office whenever it’s appropriate for you, and then the office was empty, they weren’t seeing their team members, and then were left wondering why they were coming in.
That’s why it’s important to have a team-led model where the employees get together and decide when they’re coming to the office. And so that’s a much more coordinated approach.
But then, we need to be thinking about what the needs are in the actual office since employees are there for collaboration and not necessarily for their individual tasks. So
conference rooms, huddle rooms, lounges for those creative activities where you run into each other, and some video conference booths as well for the inevitable video conference calls that you need to make. I’ve been working with several clients to revise their office spaces to be much more collaborative. Clients are getting rid of 30% or 40% of their office space because they don’t need that office space.
So, it’s very important to use effective technology and schedule appropriate rooms or desks for when people are coming to the office for various activities.
Flexspace (FS): With the cutback in office space, do companies need one fixed lease for a dedicated office or can they just export their needs to other service providers, like coworking spaces?
Dr. Gleb: I think we definitely can. It depends on each company and whether they want to retain office space. So a lot of my smaller clients have chosen to move to just service-based offices, using coworking spaces and so on, while larger clients generally want to keep their own space because they want to manage it, maintain it, and set it up the way they want to.
But what I’m seeing is that smaller companies and especially younger companies, more recently established ones, are much more flexible about not really keeping their office space, whereas older and more established or larger companies tend to want the traditional approach of keeping at least some of their office space that they’re used to while letting go of a lot of it.
So, for example, Nationwide Insurance got rid of pretty much almost all of their other space elsewhere around the country. So they still keep the headquarters in Columbus for various activities, even though it’s a lot emptier because they can afford to do so.
FS: What will be the impact of AI technologies on the future of work?
Dr. Gleb: Many of my clients are exploring AI. Here’s a great example: A recent client was concerned with the expense of their office space. They saw that their people were more productive working remotely, and they saw that collaboration was going pretty reasonably well, which is one of the benefits of being a technology company. But, they had some challenges with innovation. They were less innovative and creative than they were before the pandemic and were wondering if they needed to keep that office space for that innovation and creativity. I worked with them on solving that problem through actually using generative AI.
So when you think of using generative AI for brainstorming new features or products emulating an audience member or creating marketing campaigns, you can actually do all these initial brainstorms using generative AI. Then, they used virtual meetings to meet with each other, along with some in-person time but realized they could do the same things in coworking spaces when they needed to meet and discuss ideas.
And then they found that their innovation and creativity are going back up, maybe even higher than the pandemic, and they’re not spending millions of dollars on office space.
FS: How will work look five years from now?
Dr. Gleb: I think generative AI is definitely making it easier for people to spend more of their time working remotely. And given that generative AI is only going to get better from now, and there are also other technologies developing like augmented reality and virtual reality, all of which will be much more affordable than it is now. So my strong prediction is that in five years we’ll have more people working remotely. I still think it’ll be hybrid will be the major approach, but there will be more companies, especially smaller ones or younger ones, that spend full time working remotely. We’ll have much more flexible office space and the majority of companies will be in a hybrid modality where there will be much more autonomy for people to choose their flexibility based on their schedule and their location. And while they will still be spending some time in the office, they will be spending a lot of time at home. And, they’ll be using a lot more digital technology to facilitate their work.