Corporate office is not dead (yet)

Over the last few days, a number of write ups & news articles have popped up in the media highlighting the danger to the corporate real estate business due to the COVID crisis. Pinterest just spent USD $90 million to terminate a 490,000 square foot lease citing a move towards more remote work. In Australia, Telstra directed all staff to work from home, and so did Google and a number of other organisations. Real estate moguls have started a “back to office” campaign, with senior executives requesting blue chip companies to bring their employees back to the office. Their argument is that it is safe to do so, and must be done to keep businesses alive. Some are even calling it the patriotic thing to do.

The fundamental flaw in this argument – it is all about why commuters must make an effort so that real estate + support services survive. The question they should be asking is, “What can I do different that brings people back to the CBD and the offices?” Its sales 101 – Solve the customers’ problem.

Employees prefer working from home because it allows them to spend more time with family, less time travelling, zero dollars spent on coffee/lunch/parking and avoid being crammed in public transport or traffic. Microsoft Teams, Zoom & Google Meet are the new permanent meeting rooms.

The big players have asked their employees to work from home until further notice. It makes economic sense for them too. We can expect most companies to cut down their office footprint by 50%. The savings they gain through lower lease expense will be spent on building better communication networks, ramping up staff numbers and business development. I agree that a 100% remote staff plan will not suit large organisations. If they can get 50% of staff to work from home every day – that is massive savings.

So what about existing businesses in the CBD? They will move to the shopping centres in the suburbs. Think of a world where most people work from home, and COVID no longer exists. The money usually spent on travel/fuel/parking and eating out at the CBD will shift to your local shopping centre. Companies such as Westfield have an opportunity to transform their shopping centres into co-working spaces.

Real estate leaders expecting commuters to solve their problem is disappointing and this pandemic has exposed the lack of innovation in the corporate real estate business. Blockbuster was replaced by Netflix, Music CDs by online streaming services and libraries by the internet. The cheese has moved.

It’s time for these real estate moguls to stop complaining, and start investing in new business models. To quote Jack Welch, “Change before you have to


Iranian teen shocks chess grandmaster Magnus Carlsen to win $14,000 prize

Alireza Firouzja defeated the Norwegian 8.5-7.5 in the final of the online quickfire knockout contest — where players must comment verbally on their moves, and their opponents, during the game — to claim the $14,000 prize.

200417112554-magnus-carlsen-alireza-firouzja-exlarge-169After 7 months and 131 matches, the series of three-minute games involving 128 contestants ended in a final between the world champion since 2013 and the rising superstar.

And after losing the 90-minute contest, Carlsen paid his respects to the teenager, calling him “amazingly strong.”

“Good game, Alireza! That was really horrible, I just was way out of shape, but he deserves full credit,” the 29-year-old said on the livestream.

“I’ve just got to be better, but yeah, he’s amazingly strong! Full credit.”

Firouzja was gracious in victory.

“I think the match was 50:50,” said the teen, who is ranked the world’s no.21 player. “I don’t think I was favorite or he was favorite … you should be a little lucky.”

Chess fans won’t have to wait long to see a rematch between the pair, as they face off once again on April 20 in the $250,000 Magnus Carlsen Invitational.


“Work From Home”​ is not the need of the hour. It is the way forward.

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future“- John F. Kennedy

The Covid-19 outbreak has disrupted our known way of life. On one hand scientists are trying to to find a cure, while Governments around the world are trying to stop the spread by shutting down transportation systems, sporting events and mass gatherings.

Businesses had to make decisions – and to keep the business running, they advised their staff to work from home. It only created more challenges. Can the Internet infrastructure handle so many people working from home? People who work from home, will also be streaming music, and may be on a video conference. If kids are learning at home, they could be streaming videos. Data consumption could go up 8-10 times within days. Are we equipped to handle this while Covid-19 is eliminated? The sudden demand for data & energy should not be considered as a temporary spike. There are benefits if we can make this a permanent way of working.

  1. Traffic: The commute from home to work usually takes me 60 minutes in traffic. The last few days, it took me 30 minutes. If more people were to work from home, it puts less pressure on the ones that have to be at a specific location (hospital staff, retail etc). They don’t have to leave an hour early just in case there is an accident, or detour. It also puts less pressure on government, when it comes to upgrading public infrastructure.
  2. Pollution: The strict quarantine measures resulted in a dramatic drop in Nitrogen Dioxide emissions by up to 30%in China, and Northern Italy. The air is definitely clean. According to a research conducted at Stanford University, the reduction in air pollution in 2 months has saved the lives of 4,000 children under 5 and 73,000 adults over 70 in China,
  3. Lifestyle: According to a study published by Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA), we spend an hour every day travelling to, and from work. If we work 48 weeks in a year, that’s 5 hours every week, resulting in a total of 240 hours – or 30 “full time” days. Give back that time to your staff, and watch productivity go up exponentially.
  4. Economic benefits: A study conducted by RMIT in 2018 stated that Australia will be 100% reliant on imported petroleum by 2030. In December 2019 alone, we consumed 1.506 ML of automotive fuel. At a dollar per litre, you can do the math – that’s a lot of cash burnt to fuel cars. Imagine if we could bring that down drastically. This move helps the economy by reducing our fuel import bill.

The key to moving forward is innovation and change in mindset. It is an opportunity for:

  1. Telcos: Now is the time for telcos to encourage their enterprise partners to embrace remote working. Provide data solutions for remote login, video conferencing, and invest in “work from anywhere” models.
  2. Software developers: With more people working from home, more investment and research is needed in the field of data compression – especially for video and audio (Higher quality with less data).
  3. Hardware manufacturers: Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) will be the new normal. Employers will encourage staff to get their own hardware and support services. This is an opportunity for hardware manufacturers to partner with electronic retailers and provide end to end support.
  4. Home Office infrastructure: Home office furniture will become a separate segment in the furniture business. Expect speciality stores to pop up that deal with Home-office furniture alone.
  5. Solar PV & Battery: Working from home means lights, heating/cooling, music, cooking, viz. more energy consumption. People will invest in renewable energy.
  6. Co-Working Hubs: Don’t want to work from home? Go to your local shopping mall. This is great opportunity for shopping centre operators to transform their centres into a co-working hub. Coffee shops will still exist, and so will the sandwich bar.
  7. Bikes/E-Bikes: You don’t need a car to go to your nearest co-working hub. Time to start cycling. Many cities & councils have tried making cycling a lifestyle. This is their opportunity.
  8. Personalised Logistics: If more people work from home, the home-delivery business will have to innovate and take a giant leap forward. Anything & everything should be available for delivery.

This requires change in mindset and thinking.

Work from home is no longer an employee benefit. It should be a corporate target, as part of the Business Continuity Plan. Government and Business leaders should work together to come up with measurable targets. Personally, I think that the industry should work towards a model that requires 50% of all staff members to work remotely at any given point in time, with a maximum of 80%. This goes back to reducing traffic and pollution. We need aggressive targets.

I acknowledge that not all organisations are ready for this change. Some things take time. But we should start right now. The biggest hurdle organisations face is a technological one. Investment in remote access technology should be a priority to support this change. And for those organisations still believe that they need to supervise employees in person, my message to them: A business is built by people we trust. If you don’t trust your staff to work remotely, don’t hire them in the first place.

Change is hard, change is tough. But accepting change doesn’t mean you are letting go of your values. Remote working is the future, and organisations that embrace this change will be setting themselves up for tremendous success in the 21st century.


By digitizing faces, communications, and patterns, police will instantly and accurately be able to investigate billions of all-too-human clues.

This is the future. This is the present. This is the beginning of big data policing.


Facebook’s scale, coupled with its focus on making video consumption a social experience that’s integrated with users’ news feeds and “Groups,” could enable the company to lure a sizable audience away from video giant YouTube.


How You Can Make Serious Money By Learning To Code On Vacation | Forbes Mobile


YouTube has 1.5 billion logged-in monthly users watching a ton of mobile video | TechCrunch


Uber will apply for a self-driving test permit in California | TechCrunch

Despite that, its views on the legality of its tests and requirements regarding self-driving testing haven’t changed – Uber’s original reasoning for not applying for the permit was that it didn’t require this special permission under the letter of the law.


Google added fact checking: Facebook, it’s your move now | TechCrunch

It’s not enough for the company to merely reduce the visibility of obvious hoaxes from its News Feed – not when so much of the content that circulates on the site is posted by people – your friends and family – right on their profiles, which you visit directly


How startups can use data to grow smarter | TechCrunch