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What will the workplace of tomorrow look like?

​​New Economist Corporate Network report sponsored by JLL explores how new technology will impact the workplace.

BEIJING, 23 November 2017 – As new innovations revolutionize how we work, companies must be prepared to tackle the challenges and embrace the opportunities that technology brings. Exploring these themes, The Impact of AI and Automation on the Workplace: The Role of the CEO in Shaping the Workplace of Tomorrow, is the Economist Corporate Network's latest report.

The report, sponsored by JLL (NYSE: JLL), is based on the findings from a survey and focus groups conducted with CEOs in the Asia Pacific region. It examines perceptions and expectations of the changing technological landscape, as well as how heads of business exercise leadership in the transition to tomorrow's workplace. As Julien Zhang, Managing Director of JLL North China notes, "This study highlights some of the key themes touched on in JLL's vision of the Future of Work, and its findings will contribute to the development of this vision, helping JLL to better serve its clients in creating workplaces where ambitions thrive".

Imagining the Future of Work

There is no doubt that new innovations will alter the working landscape, and 56.2% of the CEOs surveyed think that the biggest change automation and AI will trigger in the workplace is bringing more flexible working arrangements and less formal types of employment. This of course has implications for how real-estate is utilized and managed. Frank Rexach, Managing Director, Enterprise Strategy & Innovation, JLL Asia Pacific says "Given these emerging trends, we have seen a range of business models disrupting the traditional real-estate world, including the rapid adoption of co-working spaces to support both entrepreneurs and corporations. Similarly, developers are beginning to offer amenities within their buildings to provide their tenants with greater flexibility of space options outside of the four walls of their offices".

In a future where the workforce will be increasingly mobile, and companies use a combination of a core team assisted by contingent workers, leased office​ space is anticipated to shrink. Companies will seek to leverage co-working spaces but also other flexible spaces within buildings to get their work done. "We are partnering with investors to help them define these flexible spaces so that they become a key differentiator of their buildings as it becomes more of a destination that is human centric rather than a beautiful building with no activation. We are also beginning to offer next generation facility management services that support creating vertical communities within buildings and tenancies", Rexach explains.

Disconnected preparations?

The Economist's report shows that top-level management is highly involved in companies' automation and AI strategies. Of those surveyed, 62.8% say that top-level managers are often or regularly involved. However, there appears to be some disconnect when it comes to clearly transmitting this strategy to their employees, with under 20% of the CEO's surveyed feeling that this is the case within their own organization.

The figures also suggest that there is an unwillingness to recruit external specialists, recruiters, and training consultants, even though most CEOs said they believed to be highly important. "Particularly for companies whose core business is not technology-focused, the hiring of external consultants and experts can be of great value in terms of effectively training and recruiting staff, as well as formulating a clear strategy via which to utilize the latest technological developments" says Zhang. "This is particularly true of a specialized area like real estate management, where companies may have much data but lack the personnel or systems to effectively analyze it. At JLL we use human-centric analytics to understand occupancy but also the effectiveness of the spaces themselves," he adds.

The role of the CEO in shaping tomorrow's workplace

Though an increasing amount of automaton and AI is generally seen as inevitable, how this change occurs is subject to different approaches. While just over 40% of those surveyed wanted to accelerate its arrival in the workplace, almost 60% were more concerned with softening the impacts. However, when it comes to their own work, a staggering 81.1% of CEOs say they would lead by example and automate parts of their job that AI was more efficient at.

Feedback from the report's focus groups suggested that CEOs need to think more strategically, and involve a younger generation of digital natives in formulating and realizing their plans. JLL's view is that since the new structure of organizations will be hard to predict in the future given the impact of automation and AI, it will be important for the CEO to engage corporate real estate as part of their C-Suite team's focus on talent optimization models and their impact on real estate requirements.

A fast-changing business landscape driven by technology means that pragmatism and flexibility are also key skills for CEOs to foster in themselves and their staff. As Rexach summarizes, "The uncertainty and volatility of the global economic landscape given new business disruptors including those generated through automation and AI has impacted business leaders significantly.  This is making it more challenging to predict the future and develop longer-term strategies for corporations including understanding the shape of your organizations."

>>> Download The Impact of AI and Automation on the Workplace: The Role of the CEO in Shaping the Workplace of Tomorrow

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About JLL

JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. A Fortune 500 company, JLL helps real estate owners, occupiers and investors achieve their business ambitions. In 2016, JLL had revenue of $6.8 billion and fee revenue of $5.8 billion and, on behalf of clients, managed 4.4 billion square feet, or 409 million square meters, and completed sales acquisitions and finance transactions of approximately $145 billion. At the end of the third quarter of 2017, JLL had nearly 300 corporate offices, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of over 80,000. As of September 30, 2017, LaSalle Investment Management had $59.0 billion of real estate under asset management. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information​​, visit

JLL has over 50 years of experience in Asia Pacific, with 36,900 employees operating in 96 offices in 16 countries across the region. The firm won the ‘World’s Best’ and ‘Best in Asia Pacific’ International Property Consultancy at the International Property Awards in 2016 and was named number one real estate investment advisory firm in Asia Pacific for the sixth consecutive year by Real Capital Analytics.​​  

In Greater China, the firm was named ‘Best Property Consultancy in China’ at the International Property Awards Asia Pacific 2016, and has more than 2,200 professionals and 14,000 on-site staff providing quality real estate advice and services in over 80 cities across the country​.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​