Kiss the conference room goodbye: the remodelling of the corporate workforce

The future of work in Australia and across the world is looking cloudy. For those who are done with the traditional conference room – the cloud cover is a welcome prospect.

On September 18, real estate giant Colliers International released its latest insights report, Flex, Core & The Cloud: A Blueprint for the Future Asia Pacific Workplace.

In this report, there is a heavy focus on what Colliers refers to as Internet of the Workplace (IoW).[1] This term is used to describe digitally integrated enterprise architecture that allows employees to connect virtually for collaboration opportunities. Ideally, this form of workspace makes companies more cost-effective and opens up the possibility of a better work/life balance for employees.

There is little dispute around the relationship between flexible working schedules and employee happiness levels. However, it is debated whether job flexibility actually increases productivity.

The people over at the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) are believers that job flexibility is as valuable to employees as it is to companies.[2]

According to them, a non-traditional approach to work can mean that employees are able to take on more hours and accomplish more tasks before the workload will begin to have negative impacts.

For businesses and employees alike, the ‘clouding workforce’ could be the way of the future. In addition to potentially building greater satisfaction amongst management and workers alike, it also presents further opportunities to recruit the best people for the job, defying geographical boundaries.

“Applying the IoW gives enterprises the ability to ‘cloud their workforce’ — adopting decentralised structures that mirror the cloud computing environment, based around multiple remote teams that can be rapidly combined or scaled as needed, rather than a large central office. This can make companies more agile and cost-effective, with positive impacts for employee well-being and productivity,” said Rob Wilkinson, Associate Director, Corporate Solutions APAC.

The straying from traditional, and as some argue, dated, work structure doesn’t mean much for those who are involved in hands-on industries like Construction, Agriculture, Mining Resources & Energy. But for those who either run their own companies or are involved in the management of any sizeable business in any industry, this model could reshape how business is conducted.

Below is what Colliers describes as the four stages of the IoW curve:

1) Traditional

  • Core operations/employees concentrated in a central location
  • Data/IT services stored, managed and delivered via in-house physical infrastructure
  • Employees have dedicated workspaces and rarely or never shift teams or locations

2) Transitioning

  • Key administrative functions and critical technology infrastructure based in a central location
  • Employees connected, and some data/IT services delivered via public or private cloud
  • Employees occasionally work on different teams or at different locations; enterprise provides limited IoT infrastructure to support occasional virtual teams

3) IoW adopter

  • Technology infrastructure is almost entirely cloud-based
  • Core business functions spread across multiple hubs that scale according to business needs
  • Hubs employ BYOD and IoT technologies to enhance the working environment, and enable employees to work freely across teams and locations

4) IoW powered

  • All technology infrastructure is cloud-based
  • No central location exists; employees log in independently from various IoT-optimised flexible workspaces or their homes
  • Employees form teams dynamically in response to business demands, using online platforms and collaboration tools to communicate, cooperate and achieve goals

You can read more about the non-traditional workforce model here, including what this model could mean for data security.

If we choose to believe Colliers, the forecast of corporate work is cloudy, with a chance of collaboration right across the globe.

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Written by Amelia Fynes-Clinton for Globe Group

[1] Colliers International, Cloud-enabled workforce models to disrupt and shape future Asia Pacific workplace,, 2018,, viewed 07 October 2018.

[2] Hill, EJ et al ‘Finding an extra day a week: The positive influence of perceived job flexibility on work and family life balance’, Family Relations, vol. 50, no.1, 2001, p. 49-58.