The focus in commercial office space may be shifting from cost reduction and management to fostering growth and innovation. Credit it to a combination of technology and an influx of Gen Y and soon to be Gen Z workers, who tend to reject the traditional values of experience, age, titles and hierarchy.

As George Bouri, principal of New York City-based Deloitte Consulting LLP explains, “While these are still important attributes, our new workforce is bringing a meritocracy mindset to an out-dated workplace infrastructure (think people in power get the larger offices) and technologies (think only executives get laptops and PDA’s). Instead, the new generation of knowledge workers demand and expect an entirely new social contract from the companies that employ them, one that reflects their way of working, not the other way around.”

In a recent brief on connected workspaces, Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls asked companies to assess their readiness for technological change and growth. There is increasing demand for more intelligent workspaces, the report notes, including facilities that are agile–responsive and adaptive; smart–proactive and reactive; and wireless–flexibility and always connected.

Workers, meanwhile, may be dispersed geographically. But they may work collaboratively in networks and connect through technology. Businesses, as a result, have greater reliance on technology to support mobile working, as well as dependence on technologies such as RFID, WiFi and Bluetooth.

But most companies are not ready to embrace these significant changes and lack the appropriate processes, policies and procedures as well as management infrastructure to turn new ways of working into competitive business advantage, Bouri notes. As a result, many will likely be at a competitive disadvantage until they start to embrace change.

“Workplace organizations and enabling functions, such as human resources, IT and finance, need to rethink their strategies on supporting the workforce and deploying the most effective services they can collectively offer,” Bouri says.

For real estate professionals, it’s no longer enough to “take a reactive stance to providing space when asked.” Instead, Bouri and other proponents of growth contend, the objective is to support innovation. Deloitte, for example, suggests:

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