According to a recent white paper distributed by Avison Young, although computer technology and robotics have been around for more than 60 years, their increasingly pervasive presence in the workplace is creating significant shifts in the way that mainstream work is getting done.
Accordingly, these shifts are placing new demands on the space in which work is housed, according to the white paper. “As a result of the location implications of distributed networks and open-source platforms; and the need for increased power, resiliency and cybersecurity being placed upon offices, warehouses and shopping malls, the real estate of the future is evolving, too.”
According to Amy Erixon, the firm’s principal and managing director of investments, who authored the paper, “E-commerce, fintech, co-working, big data, autonomous vehicles and blockchain technologies are distributed-network systems that logistically change where and how work gets done.” Erixon continues that “These technologies, plus artificial intelligence, are the most important sea changes affecting investment and operational real estate decision-making today.”
Erixon explains that the white paper is intended to help institutional investors and their service providers gain a better grasp of the range and potential impact of these and other forthcoming technology innovations. The paper, Erixon says, “addresses what we can learn about rates of adoption from the historical trajectory of e-commerce, fintech and artificial intelligence, and provides insights into innovation versus disruptive change, automation and the future of work.”
Designed to reduce anxiety about the pace of change and demystify the underlying trends, the white paper contains both a reference guide to the technologies for people who are less familiar with them, and a roadmap for moving forward with updates to occupancy and investment strategies. The paper discusses the promise and policy considerations around the workplace changes currently underway, and the potential for some of the technologies themselves, such as artificial intelligence and blockchain.
The white paper points out that historical evidence suggests that technology is just as likely to create new jobs as to displace them. “One visible impact of the current transition is a significant increase in part-time and independent contractor work.”
The paper says that real estate professionals must stay on top of the advent of machine learning trends in an era of advanced robotics and automation that is increasingly being woven into the contemporary workplace, where people and machines work side by side.
“Automation has already displaced one-third of all manufacturing jobs in the world while increasing demand for modern industrial and manufacturing spaces,” the report says. “Automation is now starting to absorb jobs in the banking, research, retail and other pink-and-white collar arenas.”
And according to the white paper, a glance at the signature technologies currently under development suggests that far more sectors, including medicine, education and government, are poised to see significant work transformation in the new future.