The final day of the CoreNet Global Summit in Madrid saw motivational speaker, entrepreneur, and professional poker player Caspar Berry close proceedings by using a game of poker to illustrate lessons on how to make decisions and manage risk through a better understanding of how people make choices. Berry concluded that we need to embrace the reality of uncertainty, and to accept the reality of making decisions in the world today: that we’ll often be wrong. However, we need to be prepared to be wrong in the long term to eventually achieve our desired goal.

The  day  saw dozens of breakout sessions covering topics as diverse as smart buildings, cryptocurrency, counter terrorism and the future of corporate real estate (CRE). Other highlights included a morning session focused on the distractions, constant interruptions and chiming tones of the modern workplace in which most people work, and the implications for being unable to focus at work. The research-led presentation by Nick Lettink of YNNO and Yvette Tietema of Saint-Gobain Ecophon, focused on dynamic, activity based working environments with a strong emphasis on collaboration and interaction. It explored how environmental and individual factors affect concentration, particularly when individuals are engaged in focused activity.

The research, which fielded data from 255 respondents, looked at the need for single-tasking environments in the workplace, as well as those for multi-tasking. Many respondents had concluded that there is an overemphasis on interaction and collaboration in the built environment, perhaps to the detriment of undertaking complex tasks, as performance may be impacted significantly due to the associated distractions. Significant workplace distractors identified included acoustics (and particularly high speech intelligibility), privacy (the selective control to access oneself or the group), and visual distractions in the workplace.

The presentation also noted that as well as causing distraction, environmental issues including noise may also have subconscious effects on the human body that continue long after the working day has ended.

The transformation of the workplace from a fixed physical place into empowering third places, such as hotel lounges and restaurants, was also explored in a session that addressed how ‘Generation Z’ (those born between the mid 1990’s and 2010) approaches work. Roberto Marazzini from The Adecco Group and a trio of speakers from architects Il Prisma, comprising Giacomo Rozzo, Federica Scollo and Gilberto Vizzini, addressed the clear implications for those with workplaces seeking to attract and retain Gen Z talent.

Focusing on the extent to which Gen Z participates in online video games (averaging one hour per day) it was noted that these games introduce opportunities to face challenges, collaborate, trust strangers, and make strategies and cope with restraints, much as in the world of work. For Gen Z, work will be a meaningful, multilayered game.

The presentation noted that Gen Z are ‘Blue Dot’ consumers (as in the blue dot location indicator on Google maps) as they are at the centre of their worlds. Additionally, for brands to attract Gen Z to work for them, they require authenticity (Gen Z wants direct feedback and honesty, and seeks meaningful careers rather than financial advantage), communication (the brand experience needs to be unique, and they will want to give feedback on the brand) and personalization (they want a bespoke experience and to feel at the centre of the world).

While it is difficult to predict the exact impacts for changes in real estate, it is forecast that twenty percent of the population of most countries on average will be Gen Z by 2020, and that the trend will move from a work/life balance to a work/life blend. Gen Z will also want to work in the CBD, not business parks, as they focus on outside experiences, night and weekend life and ‘24/7’. The session concluded with an overview of a new “employability” platform aimed at Gen Z which has been developed for the Italian market.

This year’s CoreNet Global Summit in Madrid explored the theme, What’s Next? Exploiting Uncertainty, welcoming more than 650 delegates from 29 countries to the largest event held so far in Europe.

Next year, the CoreNet Global Summit in Amsterdam will take place September 10-12, 2019. The CoreNet Global Summit in Boston also takes place in two weeks, October 14-17, 2018.