NEW YORK CITY-Two years ago Lenovo emerged as the result of the acquisition by the Lenovo Group of the IBM Personal Computing Division. Now, the newly formed company faces several issues, with real estate and how much of it they should have, near the top of the list.

“We’ve been in business globally for two years and we’re still looking at several issues, [including] where to put our team and our changing portfolio,” Deidre Buzzetto, director of global real estate at Lenovo, said. She added that because the company, which has its executive headquarters in Morrisville, NC, is “extremely mobile,” in the future it will probably need less space than it has now. Buzzetto’s comments came at CoreNet Global NYC discussion panel on the new work force and the changing realities of the workplace.

“We look at our portfolio and still see too much space. Most of our workers are going from 6 a.m. to midnight and they can do that anywhere,” she explained. “Our largest space is 600,000 sf in Raleigh. The rest of our space in the US is small centers. We are starting to take a look at one-year leases so we an assess where to put people. People don’t even use their office phones anymore.”

As Lenovo acknowledges it will need less space down the road, some companies are trying to break old habits and come to grips with that reality. Lawrence Bates, director of global strategy and planning for American Express, explained that his firm’s “biggest immediate problem” is business units forecasting a need for more space as American Express is trying to expand its mobility/virtual program. And American Express, as well as every other company, may have no choice but to expand its mobility as more and more employees telecommute. “One of our recent surveys found that on a weekly average our offices are less than 35% occupied,” said Peter Miscovich, partner, workplace transformation at Deloitte Consulting LLP.

But companies will encounter stumble blocks as they try to make the mobility push. “It is a larger cultural barrier to mobility for us. Aside from generational, there is a security issue with some of our data,” Bates said. However, American Express is making inroads, he added. “We’re breaking through the barrier helping managers learn how to manage that way and employees learn how to work that way.”

“We’ve been praying for the death of the private office and the 8-by-8 cubicle for 10 years and I think it is finally coming,” Miscovich said. “It is a win-win for employees, a win-win from a cost perspective and a win-win for the environment without all that real estate.”

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