The Impact of Smart Cities on Future Workplace

Today, global cities are getting smarter as the world becomes increasingly reliant on advanced technology to drive efficiency. This transformation to smart cities will have a huge impact on future workplaces and office designs. It is expected that this will bring more employment opportunities as handling and controlling technologies require more manpower.

For facility managers and office designers, the rise of smart cities creates new opportunities, particularly owing to its overlap with other transformational technologies like fast Wi-Fi connections, Internet of Things, Big Data and Cloud Computing. Smart cities can also be seen as an extension of smart buildings, enabling people to see the environment outside the office as a potential workplace, along with the main office.

As smart cities that leverage data and IoT technology to improve day-to-day operations and manage businesses’ assets more effectively that requires manpower, will also help upsurge the education level in society. This is very significant for cities that use information and communication technologies and need to be more intelligent and efficient in the use of resources, which in turn, save costs and energy and improve service delivery. It can also be helpful in enhancing the quality of life and environment that will support innovation and the low-carbon economy.

In the ISS 2020 Vision New Ways of Working survey, the Asian cities will have the biggest influence on office design towards 2020. This idea is also supported by the McKinsey Global Institute and the World Bank.

As cities become increasingly smart, governments as well as business leaders will progressively incorporate with the local community, sharing resources and amenities. This will, in turn, result in more collaborative networks that will share inputs and outputs, services and people.

It is expected that the rapid pace of growth and change, and growing urban populations and relatively low levels of building sophistication will see a huge transformation in the cities and will also impact the economy. This will also require the offices to have an easy system to manage and be more sustainable. Now, as cities are moved towards getting smarter, an IDC report reveals that an estimated two-thirds of global cities will be investing in smart city technology by up to US$135 billion by 2021.

It is also predicted that the change will give a boost to the concept of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), where employees will be using their own personal tablets, smartphones, laptops and wearable tech to complete tasks and send work-related communications. According to research by Techjury, 67 percent of employees reported they now leverage personal devices at work, while 87 percent of businesses rely on their workers’ access to mobile business apps.

Smart Cities and Automation

Automation is certainly the greatest concern in the workplace as technology becomes smarter. The National League of Cities report analysed jobs that are set to grow between now and 2026, identifying which are most likely to be automated. The report found that management and supervisory roles are the most secure, being less than 30 percent automatable, while low-paying positions comprising manual labour are the ones most at risk, with over 70 percent automatable.

Thus, to prepare the workforce for the future of work, city leaders must focus on income mobility and economic stability instead of job placement; look for ways to match the demands of key local industries with the population’s skillsets; adapt education and workforce training programmes to match industry needs with skillsets; put policies in place that assist in building links between tertiary education institutions and business communities; and implement more innovative business development programmes and pilots.