Making workplaces digitally fit for the future

Tim Loynes, Director at Cellnex UK, explores how enhanced connectivity will allow organisations to embrace the latest technological innovations

Being smart about building a workplace that is future-proof is core to a lot of organisations’ forward-looking strategy. 

With changing work patterns, technological advancements and employee expectations shaping office spaces, it’s clear that enhancing productivity and attracting the best talent hinges on these spaces being designed with a flexible, diverse and tech-enabled workforce in mind. 

With this in mind, Tim Loynes, Director at Cellnex UK In-Building Solutions, the UK and Europe’s largest and fastest-growing independent owner and operator of wireless telecoms infrastructure, explores how the construction industry can design and retrofit old buildings to offer seamless connectivity and maximise the value of the property.

The rise of the digital workplace

In the modern era, technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing and collaborative tools have put increasing pressure on organisations to keep pace with rapid digital transformation. What’s more, JLL’s The Future of the Work survey found that 72% of respondents agree that in the long term, the office will remain central to their organisation’s work ecosystem. Therefore, it’s clear that office spaces need to be adapted or built with a digital focus in mind.

Reliable connectivity is essential for businesses to operate efficiently. In the last few years, the move to hybrid working has seen office layouts shaken up, with hot desks and more mobile working, which has resulted in a shift away from traditional IT environments. It’s safe to say the demand for robust connectivity has never been greater.

In addition, employers and building tenants are turned on to the fact that smart spaces with seamless connectivity can empower their workforce and help them remain competitive. However, for landlords of old buildings, struggling to compete against newer modern spaces with the latest technology, it can feel like an uphill struggle.

Enhancing connectivity in old buildings

Typically, older buildings have thick concrete walls, complex layouts with obstructions and few electric sockets for plugging in Wi-Fi routers. Older infrastructure therefore interferes with mobile signals, which can lead to reduced network performance and connectivity issues.

In workplaces, poor connectivity prevents incoming and outgoing phone calls, buffering on video calls and leaves employees unable to access files which are stored on the cloud or a VPN. Flexible working arrangements have meant that there is greater variation in user capacity, causing Wi-Fi networks to become overloaded at times when all employees are in the workplace. Ultimately this disruption affects productivity and costs organisations money.

Designing new buildings or retrofitting existing workplaces with In-Building connectivity solutions will solve this issue, with Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) providing enhanced cellular coverage. This connectivity extends the reach of wireless networks to offer reliable and consistent connections that can handle the high levels of data traffic that occur in workplaces.

By strategically placing antennas throughout the premises, DAS overcomes the limitations posed by thick walls and structural obstacles, ensuring strong, consistent and cost-effective connectivity for building users.

Reaping the benefits of a digitally enabled workplace

The digitalisation of workplaces, as well as robust connectivity, bring benefits for both organisations and their employees:

  • Flexible working: Having seamless connectivity is an enabler for hybrid and remote working arrangements. Allowing employees to work from anywhere, and in their own time, will improve work-life balance and increase employee retention.
  • Collaboration: Video conferencing, instant messaging and document sharing make it easier for employees to work together regardless of their location. In addition, organisations are using remote cloud-based software to store and access data or files to enhance employee efficiency by storing information in one place. Allowing teams to work collaboratively will foster more innovative solutions.
  • Innovation: Organisations are increasingly using digital transformation tools, such as AI to create and develop new products and services, which allow them to stay ahead of their competition. In addition, technology is enabling access to more data-driven insights that will inform new innovations.
  • Sustainability: In-building connectivity solutions enable the implementation of smart building solutions, including using sensors, automation, and real-time data to optimise lighting, heating, air conditioning (HVAC), which reduces energy consumption, contributes to an organisations’ CO₂ and monetary saving.

In a nutshell, it’s clear that in-building connectivity solutions are helping to upgrade and enhance office spaces, from energy saving initiatives, to supporting tech adoption and enhancing employee productivity. Connectivity has become a significant consideration for businesses when choosing office spaces and, in a competitive real estate market, buildings with a digital-focused design are helping to increase occupancy rates and maximising the value of the property.

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