Building homes for the future – Steve Sammartino

We talk to a business technologist who describes what he does as looking at the impact that technology is having on economics and businesses. Steve Sammartino helps companies mash up the pieces of the future so that they can sustain their business model and move to where people are going.  The impacts on property are enormous.  Steve explains.
Kevin:  Earlier in the show, I was having a chat to Kathleen Norris, who was one of the speakers at the UDIA Congress. Another one of those speakers is Steve Sammartino who joins me now. Steve is a futurist and a business technologist.
Good day, Steve. How are you doing?
Steve:  How are you?
Kevin:  Good, mate. Hey, what is a business technologist? What do you do?
Steve:  I look at the impact that technology is having on economics and businesses. You might have heard that word “disruption,” but basically, I help companies mash up the pieces of the future so that they can sustain their business model and move to where people are going.
It’s really the mash up of new technology, emerging technology, and how they’ll be used to solve people’s problems and making sure that companies have the right strategy and infrastructure in place to serve their customers.
Kevin:  One of the big challenges, I think, for business right now is working remotely, or this working-from-home revolution, which has been brought on, I guess, a lot by the Internet. Is that framing a lot of how business is operating now?
Steve:  It’s not framing it as much as it should. And I have to tell you, for me, this is one of the opportunities for companies to save cost, have more productive and happy employees. And too few of them are embracing it.
I think the reason that they’re not embracing it is because we have this industrial mindset where we see the manager walking around with a clipboard making sure everyone’s doing what they’re told, treating people like children, maybe, instead of adults.
If you think about the corporate Taj Mahals that many companies have, they could be a lot smaller. And yes, we need social interaction, but I don’t think we need to hop in a traffic jam every day to go and sit next to someone five days a week just to do our work and then drive home in a traffic jam. We could shrink offices and work remotely far more often than we do.
Kevin:  That’s very old thinking, isn’t it, the thinking of walking around with that clipboard and so on? But don’t you think the younger generation of business owner or entrepreneur is certainly changing the way that we do business, Steve?
Steve:  Yes, they are, absolutely. And if you see small companies and startups, they tend to be far more remote and mobile with their workforce
In some ways, you could actually say that the revolution we’re living through is almost a mobility revolution. It’s mobility of ideas, of information, of currency, of products, being able to ship things around the world, so that mobility there, and it should be the same for workforces.
Startups tend to have that, and smaller companies, but big established companies, it’s very, very rare. The only super-big company that I can think of that has no offices is WordPress. This company, WordPress, they host 24% of the Internet, and they don’t have an office. They’re a multibillion-dollar company with no office. You work from wherever you want to work from and when people need to get together, they just jump on a plane and work on a project or catch up when they need to.
Kevin:  Yes, it’s interesting stuff. This, of course, is a property show, so I’m interested to hear from you how you see this impacting how we build our homes and how we live in the future in our homes, Steve.
Steve:  I think that in terms of property, you’re going to see massive capital growth in what I call the exurbs. An exurb is a place that might be one or two to three hours away from a major city, but often a place of great beauty. Maybe there’s a beach or a hillside or a lake or it’s on the river, and you can get a bigger place for far less money.
You’ll probably work, still, in a major city for a major corporation, but you’ll work from home three days a week. You’ll hop in your autonomous car – or your rolling office, I should call it – and slide your way in to the city for those two meeting days. But you’ll be at home more often. You’ll have a setup at home with virtual reality goggles in your place that’s bigger than what you can afford in the city and more luxurious, maybe even for half the price.
So, you’re going to see people move away from suburban rings and, I think, into outer areas. In much the same way that the Model T Ford invented suburbs, driverless vehicles and virtual reality are going to invent a whole new way of living where we live away from major cities or right inside of them.
I think another thing that will happen, too, is that the major cities will become less about offices and corporations and more about living right in the major city, as well. So, it’s going to be ride in and ride out.
Kevin:  That raises another point that I wanted to ask you about, and that is for those people who have invested in those big-city offices spaces, what’s going to happen to those? Will they be converted into living spaces?
Steve:  Yes, I think many of them… And you’re already seeing it now in the major cities around Australia where many of them are getting converted into living spaces.
You’re going to see what we saw with the factories. As the factories closed down, what did they become? Groovy inner-city warehouse apartments and that type of thing. You’re going to see that with skyscrapers, as well, that have cubicle farms inside of them. They’re going to evaporate.
And the reason they’ll evaporate is because big companies are driven by the spreadsheet and the cost of doing business. And you can pay someone maybe less and the person doesn’t need to earn as much if they work somewhere away from the city. And you can have virtual offices because it doesn’t cost anything. The tools of production in an office are so much lower, we don’t have to centralize them.
Kevin:  Steve, great talking to you. Steve Sammartino. Steve is a futurist, and he’s been our guest today.
Steve, thanks very much for your time.
Steve:  Absolute pleasure.

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