Your Space Is the Place

Report from the Futurist

Futurist

Stephen Roulac, 55, founder and CEO of the Roulac Group Inc., a consulting firm based in San Rafael, California that specializes in real estate.

Scenario

"People used to go where the jobs were, but now priorities have capsized. People are choosing more purposefully where they want to live, and then they are looking for a job. In the future, companies that aren't in the right place may have to move.

"This is going to be true even if jobs become less available. Although people may put more priority on where jobs are, the power pendulum between employee and employer won't swing back totally. In order to get to — or to stay in — the place of their choosing, more and more people will forgo the formal job market entirely and choose to become independent contractors, or free agents."

So What?

"Places that have a sense of community, good public transportation, and outdoor-recreation amenities will attract people, and therefore companies. Today, some of those qualities are showing up in what seem like counterintuitive locations. Tulsa, Oklahoma, for example, meets those standards, although Tulsa's not necessarily thought of as an appealing city."

Futurology Decoder Key

"CEOs are going to have to create a 'space-and-place' strategy as they develop their business models. To think that you can talk about a business model without answering questions about where your employees and customers will wish to live and work in the future is highly precarious — and each company will need a different strategy to answer those questions. Today, business sees property as a commodity — it's a low priority. But increasingly, companies will need a strategy for their real estate, just as they have one for other parts of their business. Some people say 'an office is an office,' and their objective is to minimize real-estate costs. But that's not the right metric for space and place. Fast-growing companies have plenty of short-term worries, but space and place are long-term issues that companies need to include in their strategic plans."

Alison Wellner (awellner@earthlink.net) is a freelance writer based in Newark, Delaware. Contact Stephen Roulac by email (experts@roulac.com).

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