Steelcase Brody Cocoons (Busta, 2015).

Steelcase Brody Cocoons (Busta, 2015).

In 2009, ZDNet predicted that over 40% of employees in the United States would be telecommuting by 2016 (Schadler, 2009). The 37% results of a 2015 Gallop pole confirmed the earlier predication was on track (Jones, 2015).  A survey by Virgin Media predicts that by 2022, 60% of today’s office-based employees (in UK) will be working remotely (Sawers, 2012).

The Nomad is different from the Telecommuter who works either at home or in the office. The Nomadic worker is “unchained” from the desk and frequently on the road. Since this workforce will be expanding over the next five years, and characteristic of the millennial generation, their collaboration requirements are an important part of future space planning. PSFK labs, known for examining trends in corporations says that being Nomadic is all about being free from location: plug in anywhere, be flexible and find environments that foster creativity (Cole, 2016). The Nomad will need more than laptop cables and USB charging stations for huddle rooms to be effective collaboration spaces.  Cole describes the Nomadic workforce as seeking “packable safety net, omnipresent community and never out of touch” (Cole, 2016).  Their technical requirements brings us to another dimension of this workforce, one that I call the Digital Nomad. Here is where integrating cloud networking and data persistence (after the live meeting is over) become important to the collaboration strategy. The Nomad needs the trifecta: instant access to communities, portable productivity and remote collaboration. 

A growing cross-generated tribe of educated, influential and affluent professionals are striving to lead a nomadic life. For them, concepts like boarders, time-zones and office spaces can be ignored in lieu of a connected ecosystem of tools and services that help them live, work and play in the way that may seem extreme to many of us today but will become the norm for a much larger group of professionals in the next few years.
— Piers Fawks, Founder & Editor-in-Chief, and PSFK Labs (Cole, 2016)

Just like the transition from DVDs to Netflix and paperbacks to Kindles, more data stored in the cloud lightens the Nomad’s load. Prysm’s Visual Workspace is an example of how persistent content can improve productivity as employees move about the office and connect remotely.

Nomads have 80% higher morale rating than their residential counterparts, but they miss interaction with their peers, spontaneous conversation and “real-time inspiration sharing” (Cole, 2016). Customizable temporary residences like Surf Office appeal to the Nomad’s desire feel treated as a valued part of the community. When Nomads “book in” at the home office, they want to feel welcome on arrival, have access to mingling spaces and digital resources.

The Surf Office, (2016)

The Surf Office, (2016)

Collaboration and a Culture of Wellbeing

There is a lot of pressure on today’s employees, in terms of information processing and working with people from different disciplines. As the global environment becomes more complex and competitive, the concept of “place” becomes a significant employee retention differentiator.  In order to foster innovation and productivity, companies need to create collaboration spaces that are destinations designed to augment human interaction (Steelcase, 2015).

Nomads are always on the go, technology follows them around and co-workers are in different time zones across the globe.  To encourage social interaction and community, office spaces have to say, “This is a community”. Similarly, the enterprise needs to provide the Digital Nomad a sense of place within the open seating strategy: here is a place for private conversation, here is a place to celebrate, here is a place to collaborate.

TURNING POINT is Mark Peterson's personal take on innovation and collaboration influencing today's corporate strategy. To have a conversion about what takes to implement collaborative solutions efficiently and at enterprise scale, contact Mark Peterson


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Cole, S. (2016). Around the Nomad Worker’s World in One Hour. PSFK. Retrieved from

Jones, J. (2015). In U.S., Telecommuting for Work Climbs to 37%. Gallup. Retrieved from

Sawers, P. (2012). Home, sweet home: 60% of UK employees could be working remotely within a decade. TNW News. Retrieved from

Schadler, T. (2009). Telecommuting will rise to include 43% of US workers by 2016. ZDNet. Retrieved from

Steelcase (2015). Six Dimensions of Wellbeing in the Workplace. Retrieved from

The Surf Office (2016). Workspace, Lisbon. Retrieved from