Events

Young Professionals Group Seventh Annual Panel Discussion & Networking Event: The Future is Now, Where Are You?

On Thursday, April 26, 2018, the BABCPHL Young Professionals Group (YPG) hosted the seventh annual panel discussion and networking event: The Future is Now, Where Are You?  The workplace has changed dramatically during the past two decades.  Speakers talked about why companies – small, medium and large enterprises – are embracing open plan work spaces and collaborative working environments.  Panelists spoke about the current work milieu; the technology businesses are using; and best practices and operations.  Featured speakers included: Josh Dubin, Director of Programs & Strategy at Pipeline Workspaces who presented the evolution of the collaborative work environment; Laurence Hookway, Risk Information Consultant from Chubb Global Services who discussed the current movement toward remote work arrangements; Adam Jones, Vice President from Shout Digital who talked about the various technology and tools companies employ to successfully implement business operations; and Jay Jumper, Partner at Pepper Hamilton LLP who spoke about the legal aspects of conducting business in this manner.

Josh reported on the evolution of the shared workspace, and the dramatic transformation during the past few years. Shared workspaces are currently characterized by a more diverse ecosystem of companies, representing various sized enterprises and industry sectors.  What once began as an area most appealing to young, “hoodied,” tech entrepreneurs, the gig-economy, etc. has changed significantly.  During the past couple of years the profile of shared workspace members started to include lawyers, journalists, real estate entrepreneurs, etc.  Today, veteran entrepreneurs and national businesses are actively seeking and occupying this type of office as it provides financial flexibility and promotes a communal type of interaction, creating inspiration and innovation.  The community component is a big sell.  Shared workspace companies are in the business of building community and curating dialogue.  People can connect and grow relationships organically.  Some examples of big companies that have built campuses around collaboration spaces are: Google, Facebook, GSK, and Urban Outfitters.  Josh stated that during the next five years – middle market companies (such as 20, 50, and 100 person operations) will begin thinking creatively about how to transform their space into this type of cooperative working environment at a low cost.

Laurence spoke about his personal experience working in both modern and traditional office, on both sides of the Atlantic. He explained how work space is industry driven.  When young professionals enter the work force and start out at a big company, they often expect a modern area, a clean, tech driven, digital environment in which to operate.  Influencers include: a company’s corporate culture; economic factors; and social change.  The recent trend toward a mobile – work from home policy – while leading to greater flexibility, dissuades a community building, collaborative and interactive engagement.  Laurence also discussed the disadvantages of blurring the lines between work and home.  Furthermore, US and UK-based businesses utilize differing surveillance techniques to monitor their employees work and online habits.  The issue of data privacy and protection comes into play.  The one benefit of the advanced ability to work remotely is seamless disruption to work flow with globally mobile employees.  Lastly, the ability to work remotely can impede professional development because there is no face-to-face interaction with people at various levels within a company.  All in all, interpersonal interaction among employees of all levels and a collaborative working environment is a win/win.

Adam provided insight about the technological tools companies use to enable their employees to collaborate and successfully meet business goals. Examples he gave include Mixed Reality (MR) and Insight Heart, Microsoft’s blend of augmented and virtual reality.  These tools enable teams to share instantly.  College classrooms also benefit from this technology. Conversational Artificial Intelligence, such as the Chatbot is replacing traditional customer service representatives, call centers, etc. throughout the globe.  Currently and in the future there will be a tremendous impact on overall business operations and the bottom line as a result of rapidly developing technology. MR has the ability to blend both of what makes Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) valuable to businesses.  MR can take a snapshot of the real world environment, and allow the user to place virtual objects within that space.  VR is an entirely virtual world with no connection to the environment of the user, and AR doesn’t allow the same level of interaction.  MR has the potential to genuinely disrupt the workplace in a positive way by allowing for seamless collaboration. It allows for physical items to be shared within seconds with a team in an entirely different location.  Employing this type of technology can potentially save businesses a significant amount of money.

Jay delivered remarks about important strategic business planning and legal issues companies need to be aware of when operating in a shared work environment. For example, properly documenting all aspects of the business including: the physical space arrangement; ensuring the relationship between the building owner and the shared workspace operator is clearly defined; and carefully documenting the roles and responsibilities of all employees, is a must do.  Jay provided examples of why confidentiality and intellectual property – protecting proprietary information – is a big issue when operating in a diverse work space.  Insurance needs are also different than those of a business with a solely managed and operated office.  For example, people in a shared space arrangement still need to insure their property, and equipment.  Budgeting is another aspect that should be carefully evaluated.  Shared work space loans itself to an artificially low overhead cost.  Companies who operate in this type of environment need to balance their desire for a shared working environment that fosters creativity and collegiality with the need to protect proprietary information and carefully document business operations.  In addition, while expenses are reduced in the short term, companies need to think long term about how this can impact them both financially and from a risk profile.

In summary, shared workspace is a positive trend that can positively influence any sized business across industry sectors. However, one thing for sure, proper strategic development and business plans specific to this type of work environment must be implemented to ensure success.  To round out the presentations and close the discussion Jason took questions from the audience.  Attendees networked after the formal part of the program ended.  Everyone enjoyed their signature whiskey sours, while developing new and enhancing old business ties.

We would like to extend special thanks to sponsor company Pepper Hamilton LLP and to event partner, Select Greater Philadelphia.

Click here to view photos from the event.

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The BABCPHL recognizes our Club Level Members:

  • Almac
  • American Airlines
  • Bartlett
  • Cigna
  • Deloitte
  • Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP
  • Duane Morris
  • EisnerAmper LLP
  • HSBC
  • Johnson, Kendall & Johnson, Inc.
  • McConnell Johnson Real Estate
  • Morgan Lewis
  • Law Firm of Pepper Hamilton
  • TD Bank
  • United Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic