Cloud Computing

Asia, say hello to more Google-like offices

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Working in Asia? Cloud computing could soon make your relationship with cubicles a thing of the past, according to real-estate services firm Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL).

In a report titled "Asia Offices 2020," JLL said it expects Asia's heavyweight cities - Singapore, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Sydney and Tokyo - to move towards open, efficient and collaborative working environments similar to the much-envied offices of Google and Facebook.

"Most major employers recognize that their future workforce will have a very different mind-set and approach to delivering outcomes and they need to gear up their workplace and technologies to support this," Rajiv Nagrath, JLL Australia's director of corporate solutions, told CNBC.

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With millennials – a generation fixated on social media and collaboration – on course to comprise 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025, according to a January study from Deloitte, cloud computing and open office spaces could become crucial to productive working environments.

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"Cloud computing will help companies appease the younger generation and accelerate change by increasing on-demand access to work-related data and information and supporting the new wave of collaboration tools [which includes social networks, video conferencing and shared electronic workspaces]" JLL analysts said.

Companies have taken note; in a 2013 report from IDG Enterprise, 54 percent of companies surveyed globally said cloud-based applications enabled greater employee collaboration and boosting IT innovation.

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Replicating the Google space

Anybody who's stepped into a Google office can quickly identify a number of attractive features including wide socialization spaces and a transparent working environment. This is an application of "activity based working," a model whereby employees have access to the broader workspace and activity areas instead of being confined to assigned workstations.

How can the cloud help a run-of-the-mill office meet those standards?

Using the cloud can eliminate the need for in-house IT mainframes, providing greater office design flexibility and more open spaces for employees.

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"The cloud enables better use of big data for enterprise productivity and growth and frees up the workplace of the need to store information whether it be digital data on local servers or old style paper based material. This leads to vastly improved knowledge management and staff productivity," JLL's Nagrath added.

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The cloud can also reduce costs, eliminating the need for cooling and back-up power for physical servers and decreasing dependence on data centers and software.

"Overall, the Cloud will make the office environment freer and less built up as the staff embrace mobility and the office hardware is limited only to user interfaces which access the cloud mainly using wireless technologies," continued Nagrath.

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The physical work environment thus becomes a catalyst for the exchange of ideas rather than being a mere storage space for records, JLL said.

Each at its own pace

However, not all Asian cities will embrace these changes at the same pace.

In Tokyo, for example, Japanese companies tend to represent the hierarchy of senior managers through closed offices, JLL said. This will likely see the densification of office spaces and the persistence of a traditional social order remain in place.

Shanghai meanwhile, is not culturally ready to embrace drastic changes as employees still expect to work at their own desks and may show resistance to sharing spaces.