A Knowledge Leader Publication.
The Changing Work Environment
Why today’s real estate choices will affect your future business.
The next evolution of the workplace is underway. The office now plays a vital role in a
company’s ability to attract and retain talent, breed innovation and do more with less.
Pictured: Colliers International, Vancouver
Talent Attraction & Retention
Gen Y: Get Ready, They’re Here
Gen Y, Millennials, Echo Boomers – no matter what
you call them, most agree that they are a force to
be reckoned with. In less than a decade, they will
make up nearly half of Canada’s workforce and are
already driving a major shift in ideas as to how and
where we work.
Gen Y (most commonly referred to those born
between 1981 and 2000) represent the future
of our workforce. With a preference for flexible
hours, and a need for work-life balance, Gen Y can
sometimes be perceived as lazy, unprofessional and
having a sense of entitlement. However, reality has
shown they are dedicated and hard-working, with
the majority of them growing up using technology
and willing to work anytime and anywhere.
In a recent survey conducted by Odgers Berndtson,
only 41 percent of global executives said they
are prepared for the cultural changes that will
take place as these generations replace current
leaders. However, the majority of the respondents
agreed that their organizations are willing to make
the necessary changes in order to attract the best
Since 2011, Canada has seen more employees
leaving the workforce than entering it,2
takes the “war for talent” to a whole new level.
Understanding what motivates Gen Y, and putting
the framework in place to deliver on it, will
give companies a considerable edge over their
In terms of the workplace, Gen Y has different
needs than previous generations:
> Central location
Gen Y choose where they want to live, and then,
where they want to work. Often choosing not to
own a vehicle, easily-accessible locations are
paramount to this generation.
Over the last few years, several companies have
relocated to more central areas near transit
hubs, including Telus, Coca-Cola, and Google,
all opening additional offices or relocating their
suburban offices to Downtown Toronto.
Gen Y value the independence and flexibility of
working where and when they choose, both in
and out of the office.
Gen Y have grown up with a constant connec-
tion to others through social media and other
outlets. They value a workplace that enables
open collaboration and social interaction.
Currently, many managers are trying to keep up with
the workforce changes. With Baby Boomers, Gen X
and Gen Y all in the workplace at the same time,
and all with very different needs and expectations,
the rate of change has been somewhat tempered
by this clash of cultures. Considering Gen Y are
already here, planning now for the future is critical.
Take Action: Profile your employees to understand
generational composition. Employee surveys are a
great tool to gather insight on wants and needs.
GENERATIONS IN THE
A KNOWLEDGE LEADER PUBLICATIONSPARK | FACING CHANGE - GEN Y WORKPLACE STRATEGIES
Traditionally, employees were restricted to a
physical office, but today, the office can be accessed
through the palm of your hands. This paradigm
shift is ongoing and change is inevitable for
companies to stay competitive. In the next decade,
savvy business leaders will be focused on three
connected factors driving change in the workplace:
>> Talent Attraction and Retention
>> Productivity: Innovation Through Collaboration
>> Technology: Doing More With Less
Baby Boomers: 1946 - 1965
Generation X: 1966 - 1980
Generation Y: 1981 - 2000
Live to work.
Work to live.
Live, then work.
Colliers projects that by 2018, square feet per employee bench-
marks will fall as low as 145 square feet, compared to today’s
average of 172 square feet per person. Despite a decrease in
individual space requirements, the need for additional meeting
rooms and common areas has kept the total amount of space
required from plummeting.
Take Action: Technology enables mobility, mobility enables shared
workspaces, and shared spaces result in a decrease in square
footage per employee. Evaluate how current office space is being
used to ensure maximum efficiency.
Business leaders today have a lot to consider when planning the
future of their workplaces – how can they leverage real estate
to act as a tool not only to attract and retain talent, but also as a
means of boosting productivity and containing costs?
Individually, people, productivity, and technology are not driving
change, but collectively, they have created a perfect storm. Real
estate has gone beyond just bricks and mortar, and companies
that are prepared to take action now will have the potential to
accelerate their success.
1. Odgers Berndtson: “After the Baby Boomers - The Next Generation of Leadership,” 2012
2. Stats Canada, May 2011
3. Bill Haas, Haas Performance Consultants LLC, AAPEX Expo, 2012
4. WORKshift Canada: “The Bottom Line on Telework,” 2011, David Craig, Director, DEGW quoted.
5. Colliers International Research
A KNOWLEDGE LEADER PUBLICATIONSPARK | THE CHANGING WORK ENVIRONMENT
Innovation Through Collaboration
In the past, maximizing profits depended
on the implementation of ‘systems’
and ‘stream-lined’ processes that got
things done better, faster, and cheaper.
Only recently have those ideas started
to change. Employers have begun to
realize that happy, healthy and stimulated
employees and an improved office culture
directly affect productivity, frequently
leading to more innovation and ultimately to business growth.
Successful companies are now viewing real estate as more than
just office space, realizing that having dynamic office space creates
a competitive advantage. High-tech firms are making headlines
with trendy workspaces that include mini-golf courses and video
games scattered throughout the office. However, behind the fun
and games, there are very sophisticated design principles at work
to ensure that these offices not only support collaboration and
creativity, but breed it. Research has shown that “the average
worker only sits at their desk around 35 percent of the time,”4
leading to more emphasis being placed on communal areas
including lounges, kitchens, brainstorming spots and even spaces
designed to simply allow for casual interactions.
Take Action: Review departments and functions to determine which
would benefit from specific workspaces to increase team collaboration,
casual meetings, and multi-media conferencing.
Doing More With Less
Telecommuting (or teleworking) is a trend on the rise and
although it doesn’t work for all companies, certain industries
are benefitting from a large boost in productivity and reduced
costs. In addition to the flexibility it offers employees, there are
increased cost savings to the employer as well.
Advances in technology have allowed us to not only access files
and documents from outside the four walls of the office, but to
have face-to-face meetings on a national or international basis
with virtual meeting software or even apps on your smart phone.
While nothing will ever replace the in-person feel, the cost and
time savings in using this technology are unquestionable.
In cases where employees work both remotely and on-site, hoteling
stations can be arranged to make better use of a company’s floor
plan, resulting in a smaller footprint per person in the office and
allowing additional costs to be allocated to common area space.
Square Feet per employee5
In Canada, the average square feet per employee could fall as low as 145 square feet by 2018.
2000 2005 2010 2013 2018
Employees only spend about
35 percent of their time at
their desks, making areas
for collaborative work even
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