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Why Tech and Sustainability Are Not the Future of Office

When it comes to the workplace of the future, too often the emphasis is on the wrong things, according to LendLease director of workplace strategies Kay Sargent. Kay, who gave the engaging opening remarks at our Bisnow San Francisco Creative Office & Tech event this week, said so much focus has been put on technology, sustainability, globalization and the need to reduce corporate real estate that the main reason for designing real estate in the first place gets lost. That reason? People.


While companies are squeezing corporate real estate to boost the bottom line, if they're making the people who work there miserable and dysfunctional, then they're not doing themselves any favors, she says. Instead, the focus should be on how to engage people and make them more productive.

Kay cited statistics that show about 70% of the workforce is disengaged. Most companies would be better off paying 15% to 18% of their workforce to go home, she says.

So what works? Benchmarking only shows what others are doing, not whether it's working. It's the best way to get to average, she said.

Companies have to be able to identify their industry, regional influences, demographics, corporate culture, organizational structure and workstyles to drive what will work best for their office environment. Those that can't define those things will likely end up with workspaces that aren't best suited to them, she said.


Kay shared her insights with more than 300 industry professionals, snapped here networking before the event.

The most flexible thing in any environment is the people who work there, she says, yet workspaces have been designed "like people are potted plants." Now, the call is for active, team-based workplaces.

"Today, it's not really about workplace, it's about work how," she says.

With everyone so concerned about the cost of real estate, what has to be kept in mind is that real estate is cheap compared to the cost of people. And keeping the people who work in that environment productive, empowered and healthy is key. The cost of getting it wrong is really expensive, she says.

Check back tomorrow for more coverage of Bisnow's San Francisco Creative Office & Tech event!