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Conference report: CoreNet Global Summit in Madrid

The dramatic forces that are changing the world, from AI and the current digital and technological transformation, to the short and long-term implications of Brexit, provided many of the key lessons during the first day of the CoreNet Global Summit in Madrid. Exploring the theme, What’s Next? Exploiting Uncertainty, the summit has this week welcomed more than 650 delegates from 29 countries. CoreNet Global Chairman David Kamen, MCR.h, opened proceedings noting that the first CoreNet Global Summit in Madrid back in 2005 had welcomed around 300 attendees and celebrated how the professional association has grown and thrived worldwide since then.

On day one, a varied programme covered a broad range of topics, from flexible workspaces, understanding economic intelligence, disruptive design, and the future of smart buildings, among many themes discussed.

Opening speaker Anders Indset, the business philosopher and author, explored the underlying forces transforming the world, and how professionals and corporates need to embrace factors such as different mind sets, simplicity and ‘wild knowledge’, to navigate this era of permanent revolution and increasing complexity.

“We need a new, plausible and validated view of the world” he argued.  “We’re currently heading for ‘Homo Obsoletus’. The more information there is, the less we know, and IQ levels are going down.  Knowledge is not understanding, and we need to create a society of understanding. Nowadays, every business process and every aspect of life is heading towards an algorithm, and as a society we’re starting to rely on technology” he argued.

Angela Cain, CoreNet Global’s CEO, then overviewed some of the professional association’s current and forthcoming strategic priorities, including initiatives such as the publication of the Future Forward 2025 workstream reports by year end; an updated and accelerated MCR programme being rolled out; the ‘Mentor Match’ programme; a new video content channel ‘CNG-TV’; the ‘Careers Building Communities’ programme to raise the profile of the CRE profession; and the new QPCR (Qualified Professional of Corporate Real Estate) qualification for those with less than five years’ experience in CRE.

Focusing on artificial intelligence and the human experience, Kay Sargent, MCR.w, and Yelena Mokritsky of HOK outlined how evolving technologies and new innovations are impacting work, workers and the workplace, using examples of popular science fiction technology that are now becoming a reality, and the positive and negative implications of using technologies powered by AI, such as the possibility of autonomous drones used for defence purposes or poker playing robots learning to bluff independently.  However, while machine intelligence is becoming ever sophisticated, humans are strong in making judgements and do hold the high ground in emotional intelligence, such as empathy.

The second day of the Summit saw dozens of breakout sessions covering topics as diverse as smart buildings, cryptocurrency, counter terrorism and the future of corporate real estate (CRE).  Other highlights included a morning session focused on the distractions, constant interruptions and chiming tones of the modern workplace in which most people work, and the implications for being unable to focus at work.  The research-led presentation by Nick Lettink of YNNO and Yvette Tietema of Saint-Gobain Ecophon, focused on dynamic, activity based working environments with a strong emphasis on collaboration and interaction.  It explored how environmental and individual factors affect concentration, particularly when individuals are engaged in focused activity.

The transformation of the workplace from a fixed physical place into empowering third places, such as hotel lounges and restaurants, was also explored in a session that addressed how ‘Generation Z’ (those born between the mid 1990’s and 2010) approaches work.  Roberto Marazzini from The Adecco Group and a trio of speakers from architects Il Prisma, comprising Giacomo Rozzo, Federica Scollo and Gilberto Vizzini, addressed the clear implications for those with workplaces seeking to attract and retain Gen Z talent.

Focusing on the extent to which Gen Z participates in online video games (averaging one hour per day) it was noted that these games introduce opportunities to face challenges, collaborate, trust strangers, and make strategies and cope with restraints, much as in the world of work.  For Gen Z, work will be a meaningful, multilayered game.

The presentation noted that Gen Z are ‘Blue Dot’ consumers (as in the blue dot location indicator on Google maps) as they are at the centre of their worlds.  Additionally, for brands to attract Gen Z to work for them, they require authenticity (Gen Z wants direct feedback and honesty, and seeks meaningful careers rather than financial advantage), communication (the brand experience needs to be unique, and they will want to give feedback on the brand) and personalisation (they want a bespoke experience and to feel at the centre of the world).

While it is difficult to predict the exact impacts for changes in real estate, it is forecast that twenty percent of the population of most countries on average will be Gen Z by 2020, and that the trend will move from a work/life balance to a work/life blend.  Gen Z will also want to work in the CBD, not business parks, as they focus on outside experiences, night and weekend life and ‘24/7’.  The session concluded with an overview of a new “employability” platform aimed at Gen Z which has been developed for the Italian market.

Next year, the CoreNet Global Summit in Amsterdam will take place September 10-12, 2019. The CoreNet Global Summit in Boston also takes place in two weeks, October 14-17, 2018.

 

About Sarah OBeirne

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