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Our 2017 Smartworking Summit series

Our 2017 Smartworking Summit programme achieved fantastic new heights, with over 700 delegates attending across the March, June, and September dates and five times that number showing interest in attending.

What stood out was the calibre of attendees throughout the year – the majority came from FTSE100/ Fortune 500 organisations with 19% CEOs30% Property/Facilities Directors, and 9% each being CIOs, CFOs, and COOs.

Throughout each morning, hugely experiences c-suite speakers shared their experience from the ‘coal-face’.  The afternoon of each Summit saw three more intimate round table debates tackle some of the toughest problems confronting all organisations today – quality of life, workplace technologies, and delivering productive work.

The year topped out in a spectacular manner with the launch of the Workplace Evolutionaries Programme at our 28th September Summit.  This inaugural event brought together the leading purveyors of disruptive thought leadership to research and test new paradigms of work, and to integrate the disparate factions into a 21st Century work foundation.

14th March Smartworking Summit – “Exploring the employee lifecycle journey”

As the workplace continues to evolve at an astounding, unrelenting pace, and the knowledge worker (those who generate value with their minds more than with their muscle) increasingly become the prevalent labour group (60% of the overall workforce and 88% of the service sector), it begs the question “How much do we know about today’s employee life cycle?”

A few brutal facts are;

  • 75% of the hard-won newly hired top talent (those with degree and above) leave within the first 2 years, citing dull management and workplaces not optimised for productive work.
  • Over the next decade, there will be 13.5 million job vacancies advertised but less than 7 million people leaving schools and universities.  How is this 6.5 million shortfall going to be bridged?
  • With most organisations talking of having ‘stripped the labour market’ and 93% CEOs stating that they need to change their talent strategies to offer any chance for future growth, do we understand the talent pipeline?
    • What is being done about retaining an older workforce?
    • With 70% of graduates now women, is enough being done to attract and retain this critical workforce?
    • With 2.8 million people in the UK impacted by neurological differences, is enough being done to tap into the vast neurodiversity talent pool?
    • Surely neurodiversity needs to be respected on a par with gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disability status?


Anthony Douglas CBE
CEO, Cafcas


Mark Malcolmson CBE
CEO, CityLit


Jane Swift
Director of Operations, BT


Ralph Tribe
Director of People, Sky


Andy O’Donnell
EMEIA Head of Property, EY


Michael Roper
Vice President Property & Facilities, SAP


John Blackwell
Managing Director, Quora – chairing the day



7th June Smartworking Summit – “Workplace technologies – an enabler for change?”

Today’s growth in technology capabilities, exponential increase in computing power, and ubiquitous Internet connectivity among other digital advances is changing the way employees and enterprises work.

Organisations are benefiting from the increased digitisation of the workplace through increased productivity, cost savings, a more mobile workforce, and generally increased adaptability in an ever increasingly complex world.  Enterprises are collaborating worldwide, with more diverse and global staff.  Employees can now work from anywhere as long as they have reliable Internet.

While this has been a boom for employers, it has also changed the power balance in the employer-employee relationship towards the employee.  The ability to work from anywhere and stay connected through smart phones, tablets, and other mobile devices has enabled employees to collaborate with peers and stay on top of digital trends more readily than the organisations they work for.  This new digital landscape creates its own challenges;

  • 83% of employees’ state that change is necessary at their organisation,
  • Half of employees feel pressured due to the ‘always-on’ nature of work,
  • A third of employees cite burn-out as a reason for leaving their job,
  • And 86% of CEOs say that security issues posed by emerging technologies are a serious concern.

Integrating digital technologies into the workplace has the potential for transforming the productivity of workers but also creates its own distinct culture, impacting the previous work culture and the work experience.  These changes challenge the workplace by forcing both executives and employees to adapt the way they interact with each other and the technologies that enable their work.


James Collis
Partner (Managing Partner 2012 – 2016), Ashurst llp


Rupert McNeil
CHRO, HM Civil Service


Sabine Hauert
President of Robohub, Assistant Professor in Robotics at University of Bristol, a leading member of the Royal Society’s Working Group on Machine Learning


Steve Carr
Head of Property & Facilities, LV=


Angus MacGregor
CHRO, MUFG (formerly Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi)


John Blackwell
Managing Director, Quora – chairing the day



28th September Smartworking Summit – “Understanding the productivity enigma”

People are messy … not in a physical sense of having a messy desk, but in the sense that every single person on the planet is different.  We all have individual likes, dislikes, preferences, tolerances, indulgences, etc … a truly messy combination of quirks and eccentricities that combine to make productive work a highly individual matter.

And this individuality lies at the heart of why organisations struggle to crack the code for improving productivity, especially for those whose jobs involve complex decision-making based on knowledge and judgment.

Making matters worse, for the last three decades, executives have taken an efficiency mindset to their business.  Six Sigma, process reengineering, spans & layers analysis, and many other tools have been used by executives to uncover waste in their operations – in effect, finding labour hours (or materials) that are perceived unnecessary in order to produce the same level of output.

Today’s business environment needs a different worldview.  The benefits from improving efficiency have petered out.  Most employees want to be productive, but the organisation gets in their way.  Our research shows that the average organisation loses more than 20% of their productive capacity (over a day each week) to “organisational drag,” the structures and processes that consume valuable time and prevent people from getting work done.

People have vast amounts of discretionary energy that they could devote to work, but are not sufficiently inspired to do so.  Many don’t invest the added ingenuity and creativity that they could.  Inspired employees bring more discretionary energy to their work every day and as a result, they are 125% more productive than an employee who is merely satisfied.  Stated differently, one inspired employee can produce as much as 2.25 satisfied employees.

  • Our research shows that only 30% of employees consider their workplace is configured to optimise productivity.
  • Just 20% say that changes at their organisation are tracked and measured.
  • We found that the best organisations are more than 40% more productive than the rest.  And this difference in productivity results in significantly higher profits – operating margins 30%–50% higher than industry peers – and faster growth.

With UK productivity 19% down over the last decade, understanding this enigma is crucial for organisational success.  This Summit explored how leading organisations are responding to this changing nature of work…



Anna Markowska
Advisor to CEO, Atomic Weapons Establishment


Mary Finnigan
Director of Transactions, WeWork


Colin Miles, CTO
Virgin Media


Catrina Smith
Partner, Norton Rose Fulbright


Elisa Nardi


John Blackwell
Managing Director, Quora – chairing the day


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