Marcus Bowen reports from WORKTECH’11 Asia, Singapore, 29th Sept


This one-day event, now in its 2nd year, is certainly good value for money – a lot less $$$ than some other events, and good speakers. Some attendees also thought that the focus on “workplace” was more ‘for them’. About 300 people attended.

These are my notes, in bullets, which I hope keep it concise but useful….

Gordon Falconer

Gordon possibly has the best job in real estate, as Director, Urban Innovation Practice, Internet Business Solutions Group at Cisco; paid for by Cisco to
go around the world explaining and consulting with governments, mayors et al on Smart Cities. You can read his Cisco bio also. He also previously worked on Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City. Gordon gave a polished presentation, with the key takeaways being:

  • The transition to a proper work-life balance is slow, and technology can help.
  • Globally, cities are now home to more people than the countryside (see ‘urbanization‘ by the UN FPA)
  • Cities are growing at a pace that normal planning can’t cope with – something needs to change.
  • Concepts to deal with this challenge have to come out of their own local factors BUT Smart Cities have 15% less greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Singapore has a planning system that can cope and make Smart City benefits happen.
  • Cultural diversity and knowledge sharing are at the heart of the process – there is a lot of Sino-US exchange… may be more
    Chinese looking at US cities?
  • Smart Work = Independent of time and space
  • Amsterdam 100 – Work hubs – Smart Networks – Cisco as enabler
  • Looked at ‘Space Zuideas ; see sort of personal ‘Regus Goldcard’ Apparently going to be very popular in S Korea.

There is more about \”the way we\’ll live next\” and smart cities in Paul’s blog from the CoreNet Chicago summit earlier this year.

Daniel (Dan) B. Johnson

Dan is Accenture’s Global Director of Real Estate Workplace. In addition to his primary role, Dan recently completed a six-month assignment as the Greater China Facilities & Services lead, responsible for aligning Accenture’s Greater China growth strategy (which is forecasting 40 percent compound growth through 2010) with real estate and workplace strategies for Greater China.

He talked through the 15-year journey of Accenture’s innovation in the

  • Started with real estate equating to 1/3rd of the total G&A , now down to about 8%.
  • A business with 62% Gen Y and 35% Gen X!
  • Business makes per annum 40 million minutes of calls; 10 m minutes are now on video.
  • Encouraging BYPC – Bring Your Own Computer (BYOC)…possibly also BYOW (Bring your own workplace)!
  • Priorities are: Collaboration, Client-Centric, Flexible, Innovative
  • Locally defined objectives still dominate the realities of how this works.
  • Employees like the greater ‘visibility and approachability’ of leadership this creates.
  • Claims productivity improves 10%.
  • Lesson learnt: spend more time at the design and development front end to the process.
  • Need to really understand ALL the ways workplace can improve the business.

Tony Wong 

Tony Wong is now Director, Workplace Resources, Asia Pacific and Japan at Cisco Systems (and was formerly Exec Director at Morgan Stanley), based in Hong Kong.

  • Focused on the tools to enhance telepresence and
    how this s becoming ‘commonware’.

Ken Heth

Ken Heth has spent the past three years as SAP’s Group Head Global Facilities Management for Asia pacific and Japan

  • Making people mobile is all about the technology.
  • Take the real estate savings to fund the accommodation improvements.
  • Don’t talk JUST about cost cutting, but think ‘no churn costs’.
  • SAP used the reduced travel budget to improve
    technologies in workplace.
  • Don’t try to ‘push’ out of the office, people with either performance issues, or who have only been with you less than a year.

Jason Heredia : vice president of Marketing for Steelcase Asia Pacific

  • Why have offices at all?  Collaboration, Social/cultural, resources.
  • Access to information is the top priority.
  • What happens when everyone has a video camera on their PC?
  • Looked at the ‘Active Collaboration Spaces’ concept. To have same room but in different places (see Steelcase white paper on ‘how the workplace can improve collaboration‘)
  • Video Bench– a workplace with a window into another place (may have other names also…)

Some panel points around this:

  • Lower the seats to the floor the more informal it becomes
  • Steelcase are looking at 8x8x8 concepts of making work travel around the globe for accelerated outputs.
  • 25% of all workers of the future will be ‘temporary’ or ‘contingent workers’ i.e. freelance?
  • It’s really all about ‘planned collaboration’. And much more about a ‘home for people to collaborate’.

Regus, which set out ambitious expansion plans recently in the FT, gave case studies on the following:

This was based on UNWIRED research VWork: Measuring the benefits of agility at work, and other reports by Unwired

James Calder Director, and leader of Woods Bagot’s global consulting team

  • Activity based Working is their ‘focus point’.
  • Trying to also introduce the concepts of micro-climates.

Anthony Smith, Senior Vice President, Corporate Real Estate and Administration at HSBC

  • Banks have not yet grasped the agile working as senses of entitlement are so ingrained.
  • Message should be “Do enjoy coming to work”
  • Workplace projects start with business transformation projects; its driven by changing the business not a fitting out need.
  • RFPs don’t allow the ideas to come out.
  • It took Sun Microsystems (Smiths former employer) 10 years to build up a core competency to undertake Change Management
    within the biz.

Gerry Taylor, founder of Gerard Taylor Design and the Creative Director of Orangebox

Michelle Pattison Global Agile Working Programme Director at Unilever

  • Delayering is making remaining jobs have much more responsible
  • Workplace is a part of the ‘War for talent’.
  • What is important is a ‘Performance Culture’
    i.e. a shift to actually achieving outputs as opposed to ‘doing work’.
  • Unilever is limited by its old tech.
  • Still get issues with getting people to use space ‘in a certain way’.
  • Have a 70% utilisation of tele-presence rooms!

All-in-all, another good event from the UNWIRED events team!

Marcus Bowen, Director, Occupiers Journal Limited & Founder/Director at CASP-R: Independent Real Estate Advisers (, based in Hong Kong and covering SE Asia. ;

mobile/cell: +85 2936 9007

One response to “Marcus Bowen reports from WORKTECH’11 Asia, Singapore, 29th Sept

  1. Marcus, thank you for this thorough report. It had to be a very full day!

    I’ll be reporting next week from WorkTech11 West Coast, yet another UNWIRED event. Our program will feature author Kevin Kelly, whose latest book is “What Technology Wants.” Then a solid cast of RE and facilities directors, all hosted by Nokia and their new west coast headquarters in Sunnyvale, CA.

    Jim Ware
    Global Research Director
    Occupiers Journal, Ltd.
    Executive Director
    The Future of Work…unlimited

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s