GPA Unite Event WTF Path To The Future Report

The Path to the Future – Retrospective of the 2nd Unite Event

This year we are all facing the same problems. We need to put out all the fires as they happen, and we need to anticipate how we can do business in the near and far future. Naturally, as collaboration enablers, GPA seeks to work together with many to solve our shared problems. That includes not only stakeholders but especially partners and clients as well. This is why we hosted the second Unite virtual summit event in 2020 – not to tell you our way – but to listen and enable a discussion between many who share the same pain from which some of you are already close to a remedy oftentimes. And while there is no one solution to fix all problems, often enough, hearing the success stories from others helps to spark more ideas, leading to industry innovation. All thanks to you.

David Carroll Byron Tarry Joel Chimoindes Roman Ceriani Jonathan English GPA Unite Event WTF Summit
David Carroll. Byron Tarry. Joel Chimoindes. Roman Ceriani. and Jonathan English, during the panel discussion

About the keynotes

FRICTIONEERING

Sacha Matulovich has founded and built organizations in the media, telecoms, technology, and financial services sectors by employing his Frictioneering premise, built around an understanding that what drives consumers and businesses today is an insatiable demand for frictionless experiences. Whether customers or employees, wherever productivity is hindered, they experience friction.

In this new cloud-powered digital world, our most important job is to “create frictionless experiences.” To become “Frictioneers”! These first months of COVID have been about reactive response and rapid reinvention, and tolerance for friction. Still, as we can now move into a period where we can invest in a more thoughtful and proactive long term refinement effort, that friction and inefficiency tolerance will rapidly diminish. Sacha will take us through his 3 laws of Frictioneering and provide a new lens with which to look at the opportunity ahead.

AN OPPORTUNITY FOR OFFICE TRANSFORMATION

Peter Andrew is Executive Director of the Workplace Strategy practice, APAC, for CBRE and sits at the forefront of understanding how global enterprise organizations are viewing the road ahead not only in the short term but in their workplace strategy investments for the years ahead. More organizations are starting to move beyond their initial tactical efforts to cut costs and solve their immediate COVID-19 problems and are now looking to a “next to normal” reinvention of the office as an opportunity for transformational change and advantage. From trend data collected from CBRE’s global customer base, practical observations and predictions, and simply an understanding of what’s on his desk as far as ideas and priorities this week, Peter will provide a macro view of what he sees as the road ahead.

THE EMERGENCE OF “AGILE WORKPLACE STRATEGY”

Peter Smit is the founder of Collabogence, a firm breaking new ground using big data analysis to measure enterprise organizations’ collaborative performance. Peter and his team focus and analyze how employees are engaging and who they are engaging with. With this data, Collabogence can help an organization manage its people and spaces and optimize their productivity accordingly. Important pre-COVID, the ability of an organization was to understand its own unique culture and dynamics and make “agile” evidence-based decisions. The changes in reinventing the workplace will be absolutely critical post-COVID. This presentation will provide an overview of the “bigger picture.” Still, it will also provide examples and practical first steps of how to initiate a collaborative, analytical strategy in the short term.

A TOOLKIT FOR NEXT NORMAL TRANSFORMATION

Brad Sousa, CTO of GPA’s US business unit, has sat at the forefront of practical discussions in recent months with some of the largest US-based global enterprise customers in their quest to transform their organizations. But while many of those companies have rapidly pivoted to improve the speed with which they can prioritize needs and make investment decisions accordingly, this has resulted in an equally significant change in the stakeholders and workflows associated with those decisions. Whether as suppliers or as portfolio stakeholders within the enterprise, this is changing the approach and thereby the “toolkit” required in how to present the case for, and in turn, enable innovation. The learning and ideas that come from Unite are all for naught if we don’t have a path to drive them forward, so Brad will share the foundational concepts that have anchored the most successful and transformative change projects he has witnessed in the past months.

Workshop contents

As the design of the Unite events heavily relies on interaction with the audience and not just broadcasting our message out, we prepared break-out sessions in which smaller groups of attendees could discuss what they have learned and talked about their perspectives in the industry.  The participants exchanged thoughts on the future outlook. They conversed about shared problems and how they could be possibly overcome – partially with technology – and culture and change management as part of a larger digital transformation program.

Some interesting points that were made focused on matters such as:

  • Is my organization prepared for agile ways of working methods?
  • How to embrace New Work methodology from a technology point of view?
  • How to enable staff to be working from home and working from anywhere, really?
  • What does the facility managers think about these trends and shift in realty space utilization?
  • Smart Building technology is great, but privacy and GDPR compliance needs to be considered.
  • The workforce is diverse in their work behavior. There are individual patterns, as well as silo-based patterns.
  • Who comes into the office, and when, and why? How to measure and act on trends?
  • There could be hybrid greenhouse effects when considering VR or mixed reality technology.
  • If people need to be at work physically, doing red and blue team separation has been useful.

However, the overall consensus was, if your strategy is good, and if your technology works, usually people don’t thank you for it – and that’s fine as long it helps them better navigate their workday. On the other hand, people might take your technology and everything you’re enabling them with and build their own solutions to problems you might not even know about. These “invisible” wins are hard, if not even impossible, to measure, and in many cases, nobody will know about how great something worked until you try to take it away from the users. Whether you are part of a GPA team or part of a client from the GPA, try to stay close to the users and listen to them. Understand their problems and try to see how they use technology to solve problems. There are often interesting things to be unveiled if that is done.

Expo booths

This time we had Bose at the virtual expo booths, and they had plenty of guests too. Bose has introduced their latest solutions and demonstrated Bose Work portfolio products like the Bose noise-canceling headphone 700 UC, which can turn the whole world into your conference room, or the Bose Videobar VB1, which can turn small and medium-sized spaces into video collaboration suits with a high-quality user experience.

Bose Videobar VB1Panel discussion

The panel discussion at the end of the event is often in many ways a sort of summary, but it is also the moment of gathering momentum. The speakers face a series of questions and share their experiences from the whole year, tackling problems that COVID-19 introduced, but not limited to that. They will talk about what the results of their individual workshop sessions were about. 

This talk also does not mark the end of the event. It marks the beginning of sticking together. It’s the moment where people do not flood out of the virtual doors and never hear from each other again. Due to the nature of our events, this is where theory turns into practice and where acquaintances may become partners in endeavors to tackle current issues and the problems they anticipate going forward. 

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