Photo of taking photo of food prep with smartphone

Spicing up the Workplace – Part 4
Next-gen workstyles add spice to workplace design

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Want some spice in your workplace – just add Next-Gens and season with smart devices!

The exponential increase in the number of smart devices will create a massive urban ecosystem of smart devices, appliances and vehicles.

Graphic of Smartphone Penetration 2004 to 2015 in Asia

Tracking Smart Device penetration across Asia from 2007-2015 makes for fascinating insights. Click for a larger version.

Asia is the leader in the world for smart device use and engagement, with wealthy, “globalised” Singapore holding the top position at 85% adoption per capita, and tech-savvy South Korean a close second at 80%.  Compare this to the U.S. and U.K. both of which sit at just under 60%.  Asian countries also have the highest rate of internet users who go online exclusively using a smart device, especially in south-east Asia where smart devices have recently overtaken PC purchases.

How might the penetration of connected devices into every aspect of business and personal activities change the way we work and the places that support work?


We are already experiencing the rise of “supertasking” in the workplace with around 40% of knowledge workers under the age of 50 using their smart devices to improve individual performance and productivity.  Knowledge workers in India have been the most enthusiastic about business-related smart device apps (which I wrote about in my Top Apps in here), with almost 15% of younger professionals storing between 20 and 40 apps on their smart device, placing them slightly ahead of China and the U.S.

Combine this with the forecast Asian domination of global university graduates over the next decade, which will almost double that of the Europe Union and the United States combined by 2020.  China and India alone are forecast to produce 40% of the world’s university degree holders. )

This is ground breaking because graduates are both a consequence and generator of growth in the knowledge economy.


While it is hoped that Asian economies will be able to generate meaningful jobs for this growing number of graduates, many of these young people will bring an entrepreneurial approach to their careers and seek opportunities to create new markets for themselves and their peers.

Portable devices for accessing the Internet are the product of choice in Asia

Smartphones (and devices) are the go-to device in Asia for super-tasking knowledge workers

“Made in Asia for Asia” will drive innovation

Engineering, design, business and other university graduates in Asia will pioneer new ideas that will shape the development of cities and the way we use them to live, work and play.  This next generation of business and design leaders in Asia will demand that workplaces effectively support knowledge workers and create the conditions for business innovation.

The philosophy that workplaces can (and should) be designed to support business success has taken root in Asia’s rapidly developing corporate real estate (CRE) industry.  Multinationals continue to devolve responsibility for CRE strategy and decision-making to regional teams, while local Asian firms evolve their property teams from a facilities management focus to a broader role emphasising business value.

This increasing level of regional expertise and authority in corporate real estate harbours an emerging confidence in the benefits of “made in Asia for Asia” workplaces.


These environments will not only incorporate new products and technologies generated first in Asia, they will also respond to changing workstyles with “Asian flavours”.  No longer satisfied with denser, more colourful versions of US or European offices, architects and their clients will create a new menu of design responses catering to increasingly sophisticated and intrepid Asian palates.  And just as happened with the ancient spice route trade,

these Asian innovations will make their way onto the design menus of the West, spicing up workplaces around the world!


This is the fourth and final part of my series “Spicing Up the Workplace“.  In case you’ve come directly to the last post, you can start at the first part in the series here.  I do hope you’ve found this series useful, and I’d love to hear your comments and questions below!