Do we still need a head office?

February 1, 2021


Just close your eyes for a moment and envision yourself sitting in a car. You turn around to pack up your bag while the car effortlessly manoeuvres through traffic and pulls over. You glance at your wrist to find your virtual assistant who conveniently plotted a path through the crowds of pedestrian traffic to your 3:00 pm meeting. You slip past the groups of people in line grabbing your pre-ordered and paid for coffee at the counter to your left. Heading for the office, you answer a call, hardly noticing the music emanating from a boutique across the hall softening as you pass by. You walk past a robotic concierge and enter your office. The lights blink on and immediately adjust to the morning glare. The temperature rises just a few degrees — exactly the way you like it.
Now open your eyes and look around. Don’t you think, our offices seem rather different to you? And doesn’t it surprise you that we are living in an age where technology would be able to change our work environment for the better? And doesn’t that raise the question: “Why aren’t we making a change?”

Whether the above-described scenario sounds like a fantastical science fiction story isn’t even a relevant question. With the rise of Smartoffice technology, trends like the IoT and our growing dependence upon technology, it will just be a matter of time until even corporate conduct has become completely automated.


The real question you should be asking is: Is my building and are my people ready for the digitalization about to come, and if not, how can I ready myself for the change, along the way? It was questions like: “What changes will the new generation bring?” “How can we protect our privacy in this digital age?” and last of all: “Do we still need a head office?” we discussed during the Innovation Exchange. We decided to run with the latter. It combined the influence of the new generation on the way we all work with the challenge increased prices in retail brings along. Due to great success, we wanted to extend the theme of future change in order to share some of our own insights and perspectives.

With every change, there’s a driver, this is often a portion of society, introducing different needs and a new perspective on the future. Take the time to reflect on society for a little bit. Today, technology drives change in the way we work, communicate, travel, hang out with our friends and family, basically any fascet in our lives. Now, who’s the true driver behind these changes? We find ourselves in a transition phase where every generation faces a battle to adjust. For a significant part of the western population, including generation Baby Busters up to even the generation Digital Immigrants, the exhilarated changes in technology trigger only discomfort.


Now let me introduce you to myself. My name is Michelle van Weverwijk and I am 12CU’s own Digital Native.  A digital native is born and brought up during the age of digital technology. We are so familiar with computers, software solutions, continual connectivity and living a life dominated by technology that concepts like big data and IoT do not intimidate they rather intrigue. My generation might just be the driver of change that will guide us all into a fully digitalized society.

You could wonder why 12CU asked me to publish an article on the new generation. The answer, however, is fairly simple:
We are in the business of smart office technology and Digital Natives are redefining corporate conduct as we speak, and they are the sole segment of society able to ease us into the digitalization that is about to happen.

I, a Digital Native, work where I want, when I want, online or offline, I am always on the go, share one small laptop with a million others, and can’s stand to work in the same place for I’ll feel limited and confined. This behaviour sparked the question: Do we actually need a head office in the near future?


Now, saying that solely Digital Natives show a need for a flexible work environment is way too simplistic to believe. The funny thing we at 12CU actually found after reflecting on how our working styles are changing, is that we all show signs of the digital native’s struggle to fit into the traditional workplace.

Research showed that only 25% of your workers state that they are in an optimal workplace environment. The remainder of your employees is struggling to work effectively in the same circumstance (Gensler, 2013). Cornell’s (2017) study of 320 SME, showed Employers who allow for a flexible work style grew four times faster and had an extra 1/3 in turnover compared to more controlling forms. Last, of all Over 30% of Dutch employees work 80-100% of their work hours outside the office, and this number is increasing.

We can see all these changes in both behaviour and technology happen across the industries and its effect is truly mesmerizing. Changing needs, driven by the Digital Natives, show our office building need to change alongside us. We need an environment that allows for flexibility and a fast-paced workstyle. We seek to be in control over our own work environment and not to have these four walls control us! Do you still think we are exaggerating the influences of these changes on your own workplace and workforce? Feest your eyes on the following statistics! We, at 12CU, took a critical look at corporate conduct and found the following shocking results:

Meeting rooms are booked 90% of the time yet used only 60% of the time. People tend to book in advance yet the need for flexibility often results in a change of pre-made plans – simply put that means money and space are wasted for no good reason. The average office occupancy rate is about 45-50%. We all know how expensive real estate has become these days (1 workplace presents approximately 10 K EUR/year), once again a lot of money is wasted.


Do not get me wrong, I am not demanding for you all to close the doors to your offices and move your business to the coffee place across the street! All I mean to say is that we need to bring out the full potential in our people. In order to do so, we need to understand our buildings so we can help it adapt to the needs of our people. We at 12CU believe that a building has the potential to be flexible enough to create a suited environment for the Digital Native as well as to lower the barrier for technology among the older generation. We even dear to take it one step further! We combine artificial intelligence with experience in corporate conduct to help transform your building into the best secretary you’ve ever had.

Your building will be able to tell you:
When a suited workplace has freed up.
When to actually stay home and meet colleagues digitally.
When to get up and take the elevator.
Where to turn off the lights
Options are limitless

See, the initially described scenario isn’t as “far-fetched” as you might think! It’s just the matter of finding the right partner with the propper toolbelt. We at 12CU don’t see the sense in creating workarounds for the problems flooding our workplace, suffocating our people, and wasting our money. We’d rather save on costs, optimize office space and support all generations in their individual styles of work. Call us a driver, call us a Digital Native or simply call us out of our minds. But to us the road to progress is simple. We have already started transforming over 20 000 workplaces by means of our self-learning algorithm.

The first step is understanding your people and how they use your office space. Understanding will allow you to make decisions based on reality. To answer the initial question:


12CU Office Analytics. Real-time. Big Data. Simple.

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