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Bosses must be flexible on firms' meeting needs

by Caleb Parker, CEO,   Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) looking to the future already understand that mobile will increasingly impact the way they run their businesses. This is not only true for retailers racing to catch up with the explosion of mobile commerce, it also means most business leaders and employers need to rethink the working environment they offer their staff. By 2019, around three-quarters of the adult population, it is predicted, will own a smartphone. Being able to work remotely on mobile devices fundamentally alters the structure of the workplace, with digital communication increasingly the way we interact with colleagues and clients. The quality of online conferencing now makes it easy to share and discuss information in real-time and keep in touch with teams in other locations. Brought up on mobile, this way of working particularly appeals to Millennials, who will increasingly dominate the workplace. The 2014 Deloitte Millennial Survey estimates that by 2025, Millennials, those currently in their twenties and thirties, will make up 75% of the global workforce. The report shows that this new generation of potential entrepreneurs and leaders want to embrace digital technology but also highly rate changing the way organisations are run to improve sustainability, with resource scarcity and climate change the main concerns. The challenge facing employers is to find a way to use resources like office space effectively, reduce their cost of unused space and utilities such as lighting and heating, at the same time as bearing in mind the downside of complete reliance on digital communications. This is what I call the ‘missing puzzle piece’ of digital working - the white lie that suggests we don’t still need a certain amount of personal interaction with colleagues and business partners to do our best work and come up with innovative ideas that impact the success of the business. The move towards a sharing economy, encouraged by Millennial ethics and pragmatism, offers a solution for SMBs to embrace the best of both worlds: create a forward-looking, sustainable workplace while maintaining the vital face-to-face relationships that engender results. Rather than wasting valuable resource on internal meeting rooms that remain unused for periods of time, a new type of global office, available to hire for an hour or a day at a time and fully connected, instantly creates ‘somewhere’ for employees to hold meetings as and when needed.