The mood in Manhattan: time to rethink the model?

In our weekly WORKTECH Wednesday Briefing, we catch up with one of New York’s leading workplace strategists, capture the views of a Boston tech pioneer, and discuss how global companies are rising to the challenge of remote working

In the latest of our WORKTECH Wednesday Briefings, created to reach out to our 10,000-plus Academy members, WORKTECH attendees, speakers, partners and sponsors while WORKTECH’s professional live conference series is paused due to the coronavirus pandemic, we talk to one of the New York’s leading workplace strategists about the how the city is preparing to reopen its offices. This edition is posted 10 June 2020.

An existential moment in NYC

Melissa Marsh is founder and executive director of research and consulting group Plastarc, and a regular speaker and chair at WORKTECH conferences. She believes New York is facing an ‘existential moment’ as both individuals and companies ask themselves why they are paying huge rents to live and work in the city. ‘The working model has been broken for a long time,’ says Marsh. ‘Restaurants and museums have got to rethink their business, and cities have got to rethink too.’ Marsh suggests that Manhattan high-rises may operate at 20-30 per cent of pre-coronavirus density in the future: ‘The boundaries of the company will no longer be a physical definition but a cultural or social one. The aim will be loyalty and connectedness no matter where people are working.’ You can catch up with Melissa Marsh’s WORKTECH Kitchen Table Conversation with UnWork CEO and Academy chairman Philip Ross here:

Plan for teams, not departments

In organising the great post-virus office return, we should be planning for teams, not floors or departments. That’s the view of Sam Dunn, CEO of leading Boston-based tech company Robin. ‘Smaller groups of folk will be the default,’ explains Dunn. ‘You’ll go to the office to get something done, not just to hang around loads of people. There will be office zones that are available to different teams.’ People will come back to the workplace with ‘fresh eyes’, says Dunn, creating an opportunity to do things in a different and more fluid way. The capture of environmental and occupancy data will be a big part of this story as the office becomes ‘more like an interface’. Watch an interview with Sam Dunn of Robin here:

Remote is the new normal

Have we reached an inflexion point in the worldwide adoption of technologies for remote working? That was one of the key talking points in our latest WORKTECH webinar, a wide-ranging discussion on the frontline of change featuring Philip Ross of UnWork, Paul Statham of Condeco, Jamie Davis of Fidelity International and Chuck Cerria of FTI Consulting. Condeco has released a report, The Modern Workplace, based on pre-Covid-19 data, which shows two-thirds of business leaders expect more remote working in the next year. Statham explained that if Condeco conducted a new poll today, that figure would jump dramatically. Fidelity International, meanwhile, switched 6,500 employees seamlessly to remote working in the UK and FTI Consulting explained how video conferencing helped people to bond during the pandemic. Watch a rerun of the WORKTECH webinar here:

Using workplace analytics

Finally, there’s another WORKTECH webinar to join this week on Thursday 11 June as UnWork CEO and Academy chairman Philip Ross interviews US technology expert Ben Weber of Humanyze. The theme: using workplace analytics to inform the return to the office. What will be the short to mid-term effects of 2020 om the workplace? Details here.

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