How to Manage Corporate Real Estate and End-Users' Engagement into Smart Workplace Change Strategies: A Case Study
Progressively, the spacial demand of workplaces is modifying, together with the habits of workers. How can companies react to the change of perspective that is affecting the traditional ways of working? What does 'Intelligent Built Environment' mean for corporations? For several years at international level, it has diffused a new conception of the office: flexible spaces, shared desks and informal areas that can accommodate different activities as needed. Even in Italy this phenomenon is spreading rapidly: some firms have started to abandon cellular offices and open-plan offices, and to experiment with flexible work settings. A new demand is emerging with specific characteristics. The most significant drivers seem to be economic efforts (big and expensive buildings affected by low daily occupancy) and organizational reasons (teamwork, part-time work, teleworking, network strategies, etc.). Nevertheless, even external factors such as competition, globalization and corporate image can influence the motivation for change. The authors have collected data on new ways of working and workplace change strategies in the brand new Italian headquarters of a company active in the technology hardware & equipment industry, with around 1,000 employees. The investigation involved both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. By matching the results obtained, it has been possible to elaborate some considerations regarding benefits and risks of flexible workstations and the way of integrating smart working into corporate real estate strategies. What kind of data is valuable to retrieve about the use of workspaces? Which methodologies would be the most suitable for such a scope? When and how should consultants support their clients? And, most of all, to what extent can an 'intelligent building' support human activity in daily life? The knowledge acquired can be useful to companies, both for managing the functioning of existing buildings and for orienting future projects towards the objective of becoming more 'intelligent'.