When the Employee Becomes the Workplace

By December 23, 2011
Keywords : Digital Working, Europe
homme sur un fauteuil les bras derrière la tête

The growth and improvement of mobile device functionality is bringing about a shift in the workplace from physical company premises to the employee. This is a spatial planning opportunity which firms should grasp.


Given the increasing connectivity of the latest digital devices, the location of work is expected to shift from the company’s premises towards the employee him/herself. This is the conclusion that emerges from a recently published study by the international corporate real estate association CoreNet, which looks at future changes in the world of work. The CoreNet researchers expect to see a workplace transfer, based on the use of mobile tools which enable an employee to access company data wherever s/he may be. However, the researchers distance themselves from the majority of analysts, who all agree that the Cloud will be the keystone of this process.

Advent of the user-server

In their opinion, Cloud computing represents only one step, an intermediate technology serving to fill the technological gaps in current mobile devices. They believe that by 2020 we will see mobile terminals with almost unlimited data storage capacity, which can be connected to the network on a permanent basis. So instead of data being hosted on a Cloud server, it would be stored on each person’s individual device. These devices would thus become, in a way, both server and receiver.

Spatial limits to company re-organisation

However, whichever of the two technological solutions wins out, it will have a serious logistical impact on companies. As the workplace transfers from a company office to the person of the employee him/herself, the average amount of space needed per employee will fall. According to the researchers, this decrease will make more than 40% of the surface currently in use at company premises - around 18 billion square metres - redundant.  So a key strategy for growing businesses will be to hold back from building new premises or creating more space and then decide how to make best use of the freed-up space as it becomes available.

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