Real Estate Costs, Technology and Generational Preferences Drive Companies to Adapt to a Virtual World Where a Distributed Workforce is Becoming the Norm

Workplace Thought Leaders Discuss the Future of Work and Collaboration at Roundtable Hosted by Convene

Jun 16, 2014, 08:30 ET from Convene

NEW YORK, June 16, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Workplace thought leaders from a wide spectrum of industry backgrounds agree that the old workplace model of people reporting to work at a specific desk is dead or dying and that a new distributed and mobile workforce model is rapidly becoming the norm.

Those conclusions come out of a Convene ( sponsored roundtable on the Future of Work and Collaboration held recently at Convene's newest Manhattan location at 101 Park Avenue near Grand Central. Convene is the nation's fastest growing conference center network.

A number of other key observations, each reflective of the nature of work and how the workplace is changing, were shared, including:

  • "Present-ism," or the Factory Model, is Dead
  • Organizations are investing in technology and people rather than real estate
  • Today's work place is undergoing massive disruption, ambiguity and volatility
  • The distributed workforce is here to stay with co-working spaces multiplying
  • Organizations are designing spaces for future generations – and not the present
  • Innovation and productivity are still best enhanced in-person

Roundtable participants included Daniel Johnson, Workplace Innovation Lead for Accenture; Lauren Pollak, Lead Financial Services Practice at Jump; David Landgraf, SVP & Head of Conference and Event Management Group at Blackstone; Sonya Dufner, Principal and Director of Workplace Strategy for Gensler; and Bernice Boucher, Managing Director Strategic Consulting for Jones Lang LaSalle. The roundtable was moderated by Joyce Bromberg, VP Strategy and Research for Convene. 

Key Points from Convene's Future of Work Roundtable Discussion can be found on the Convene web site at

Excerpts from panelists' remarks on workplace and collaboration trends
Dan Johnson of Accenture: "Accenture now has a highly distributed workforce with more than two out of every five employees working remotely from home. In order for us to reach our employees today – 60 percent of them are Gen Y'ers and another 35 percent are Gen X'ers – our collaboration strategy relies heavily on high quality mobile video along with expanded co-working centers."

Bernice Boucher of Jones Lang LaSalle: "There is a 'presenteeism culture' within the traditional banking and finance industries that expects employees to be physically present and they are rewarded for being 'there.' This has been slow to change and instead managers should be judged on performance."

Lauran Pollak of JUMP: "Today's work place is undergoing a sea change with the new model that calls for massive disruption, ambiguity, volatility where the goal posts keep on moving. This is going on in both military and corporate institutions where flexibility is the key. The factory model doesn't work anymore."

Sonya Dufner of Gensler: "From a physical space perspective, our clients are finding it hard to plan for the future not knowing how their employees would be interacting together. In this uncertainty, they are relying on flexibility in the design and planning of their spaces."

David Landgraf of Blackstone: "We see a shift of priorities to accommodate employee preferences with the growing emphasis on food and nutrition as just one example."

Sonya Dufner of Gensler: "We see organizations gravitating to creating more spaces for collaboration and creativity like project rooms that allow people to leave their work up for others."

Bernice Boucher of Jones Lang LaSalle: "Creating today's work experience is like being part of a club but it's not a desk anymore. It's an open plan that needs to enhance collaboration."

Dan Johnson of Accenture: "A balance has to be achieved between working remotely and being in the office. Accenture has become primarily a distributed workforce with groups working on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays and blocking out for extended weekends. This creates remote space issues for us since everyone wants to be there just on those three days."

Lauren Pollack of JUMP: "There are some businesses that are more successful for remote working where place doesn't matter from an employee standpoint, but technology alone doesn't give you the advantage of presence."

Bernice Boucher of Jones Lang LaSalle: "There are some organizations that must innovate to survive and others that just have to deliver. Some companies don't have a choice – they have to innovate virtually, because that's where their people are. But, it's that impromptu, ad hoc interaction that Steve Jobs really believed in when he was designing that facility for Pixar that really drove that kind of innovation and culture."

Dan Johnson of Accenture: "Because of the nature of how work is happening, globalization and the distribution of a company's resources, organizations will have no choice but to have a distributed workforce. Within Accenture, we try to travel less and definitely try to use technology to offset travel but still pull teams together. It is most rich when you have the luxury of bringing people together and the day can continue well outside the project room when people can meet for dinner."

David Landgraf of Blackstone: "Blackstone has created social networking silos for the CEOs who attend our conferences. These secure channels allow the CEOs of these Fortune companies to ping each other on a daily basis, and it has become a well spring for idea generation, even though they only see each other once year."

About Convene
Convene ( is the leading developer, owner and operator of urban day conference centers in the United States. Its full suite of business services includes meeting and collaboration space rental, "room service building catering," audiovisual and conference planning support.  Offered through various lease, joint venture and management arrangements, the company partners with landlords and tenants to enhance the quality of commercial office buildings and improve the workplace experience through better service and space design.

Emily Simmons / Rick Anderson
Feintuch Communications
212-808-4904 / 718-986-1596

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