It is a global phenomenon whose time is fully ripe: partially spurred by a once-in-a-century pandemic, workplace evolution has kicked into high gear and is demonstrating that the tech tools we have are now getting serious about transforming the way we work and consume. It is becoming rare to encounter a firm that does not have a clear eye towards the future of commerce. This vision we have for the future demands that enterprises present themselves and their products and services as smart, flexible, and green. In fact, businesses committed to growing with the times have quickly learned that these three features (smart, flexible, and green) are not only interconnected but work in concert to elevate business performance and revenues.
A Brief Overview of Their Interrelationships
Each one of these features is highly desirable within itself, and yet the combination of the elements offers long term value to the people who work in these spaces.
- Flexible – ecologically supportive practices (green) and intelligence operations (smart) thrive in flexible environments
- Green – compassionate intelligence (smart) and adaptability (flexible) yields workable green solutions
- Smart – environmentally vibrant spaces (green) and agile activity (flexible) creates smart workspaces
As part of the evolution of commerce, a fascinating new concept has arisen concerning the future of our economic practices and attitudes. Called the circular economy concept, it dovetails perfectly with the makeup of new businesses having successfully integrated smart, flexible, and green solutions into the fabric of their daily operations.
The Circular Economy Concept
One issue with the current economic framework that once changed will offer an almost instant improvement is the war between long-term and short-term impact. Too often, business leaders and society as a whole have opted for gain in the short term, clouding the responsibility for real consequences in the name of profit.
This model has resulted in a scarred and damaged planet, including (at the extreme end of the spectrum) vast swaths of deforestation. Indeed, when taking a longer and more distant view of the current economic model, it can be likened to a feeding frenzy of sharks concerned about their next meal, rather than a gathering of intelligent and compassionate beings eager to improve their surroundings and serve their fellow-creatures, secure in the knowledge that such an approach naturally results in sounder and stable profits with greater perpetuity far down the road of time.
The circular economy is such a thoughtful and caring approach that is already proving its worth. It is guided by the principle of an economy driven and thriving by a healthy system in which rebuilding and regenerating resources are integrated into business operations, all with an eye towards longer-term success. Businesses with the vision to see this future are ideally poised to emerge as leaders of this new economic approach to plenitude for all and profits for those excited about participating in a new model of marketing and consumption.
The circular economy is guided by these three principles:
- Redesign – companies are taking a hard look at any designs which promote waste or pollution, and then designing out such depleting practices
- Regenerate – when Earth serves businesses, it is proper the favor is returned by employing practices which regenerate the environment
- Retain – always keep products and materials in use and re-use, the core concept behind cradle-to-grave sustainability practices
One industry which is already embracing the circular economic concept, and realizing benefits in the process, is the real estate industry.
The Real Estate Circular Economic Approach
Already, professionals in the real estate field have discovered the value of a circular economic approach. By applying the three foundations of a circular economy (redesign, regenerate, and retain) to their particular profession, they have developed five specific points of workplace evolution that are leading them to the realization of a circular economy in the world of real estate.
In particular, five key circular practices were uncovered and have been deployed in various real estate projects around the world, with other real estate holdings now examining these same approaches for a clear and motivating reason: increased rates of return on their real estate investments, always a difficult task.
The five circular practices now being deployed for improving investment returns in real estate are:
- Adaptable Assets – property owners are seeing buildings with fresh eyes and imagining alternative uses to which it may adapt in the future
- Flexible Spaces – underutilized space used to be more of a problem, but by establishing flexible work spaces, more space is in use at all times
- Performance Procurement – rather than buying products with capital budgets, owners now subscribe to services, allowing professionals to address challenges and is a better use of time and financial resources.
- Repurposed Buildings – the reuse and rebuilding of existing structures.
- Residual Value – with the creation of a futures contract, materials from deconstructed real estate projects are no longer dumped to the wayside but are captured by a new investor with plans for new construction projects, resulting in a beautiful and immense recycling program
This provides the reader with a macro view of how real estate is benefiting from the circular economy which is capturing worldwide attention. However, even at the micro level, an important workplace evolution is creating a positive revolution, where workers feel more appreciated and are thus empowered to perform at ever-rising levels of excellence.
Five Ways Workplace Evolution Creates a Positive Revolution
By focusing on the needs and driving motivations of your workforce, you not only create the potential for improved performance, but you clearly communicate your appreciation of them as individuals, instead of only employees tasked to generate more revenues for the enterprise. More solutions are appearing which satisfactorily address the concern of sustainability through the use of technology, creating true opportunities for transforming work environments while acknowledging and nurturing the human aspect of your workforce. No longer do employees have to shed their personal lives when they enter their place of employment; rather, they bring the best of themselves into a positive and glowing environment conducive to peak performances and enthusiastic inspirations.
A static space reflects a stale attitude; while each worker may want a space they consider their own (and can personalize), to lock each person in the same area for the majority of their working time can result in dulled and bored workers. It is not even a matter of “allowing” employees extra freedom to roam, but rather acknowledging their right to navigate at their will and in whatever direction keeps their creative fires blazing with new ideas and positive energy.
Imagine a cadre of satisfied workers gathering and enthusiastically brainstorming about new ideas to elevate satisfaction and performance levels in tandem. And once your team understands the power of using satisfied states to attain new levels of performance, it’s like a magic formula that keeps your team firing on all cylinders and continuing to break new ground and shatter existing goals.
Focus On Wellness
When your workforce feels good, they work great! More companies are declaring special spaces for their valued staff, where they can meditate, listen to a little music, or even catch a quick nap; all of those “non-working” activities serve your workers immensely and typically leads to an overall better day of performance.
When employees view their workspace as another valued and appreciated aspect of their entire life, work is no longer perceived as “slave labor” which is neither fun nor meaningful. Imagine holding a meeting with staffers at the beginning of the day and hearing many of them talking about the great ideas for work that came to them in the comfort of their home. When workers love their jobs, it is an extension of their entire life, instead of lost waking hours never to be recovered; such people integrate work into their lives because their company cared enough to include their lives as an important element of their work.
Integrated Smart Technologies
With the proliferation of smart devices, humans are finally also getting smarter about having these digital geniuses communicate with each other and then to translate those chats to relevant information we can put to profitable use. Now some companies are turning those smart devices inward, asking them to look at the physical spaces in which we reside and work and to formulate elegant solutions maximizing space while regulating and conserving energy consumption.
These devices can also better manage current space usage, by monitoring the presence of activities and turning on necessary utilities, like light and heating, only when needed. Otherwise, smart technologies are in place to save energy by turning off unoccupied sections of buildings. Finally, each occupant can be offered the ability to personalize their own space with custom light and audiovisual settings to make their workspace ripe for productivity.
Sense of Community
When a job is just a series of tasks and responsibilities, it can wear a worker down. But when the job is part of the working community and the growth of skills and individual competence is considered as important, if not more, than the mere tasks performed, that employee senses the appreciation which management has for their contributions to the overall effort.
This leads to opportunities to develop and encourage coworking spaces, provide workshops, panels, networking events, and other activities which engage workers and connect them to others, both within and outside the enterprise. Of particular value are specialty programs focusing on the concerns and issues of specific demographics, such as women, minorities, new staffers, and even those loyal workers transitioning towards retirement.
The buildings themselves should be assessed and designed in such a manner as to facilitate fast and accurate voice and data communications. Ideally, the triple concepts of flexible, green, and smart are integrated into building features. An ideal example of a product satisfying all three features is the unique and proprietary GRIDD® raised floor system developed by FreeAxez. This completely modular and fully adaptable raised flooring product allows for an untangled flow of mechanical and electrical systems to function without interfering with foot traffic, desks, and other office equipment. Thanks to its ability to change configurations at a moment’s notice, this flooring system will grow and evolve in tandem with the growth and evolution of an integrated workplace, while perfectly meeting the circular economy standards of redesign and value retention.