A focus on connectivity can help facilities management teams drive workplace productivity and engagement for their clients, says John Archer, Solutions Director at Backbone Connect
It’s hard to imagine a company functioning without internet access these days, and yet it’s rarely first on the priority list when planning for an office fit out. The underlying digital infrastructure of a workplace supports almost every aspect of what a business and its employees do – getting it right can ease the way for a more productive and engaged workforce.
Facilities management teams have a vital role to play in this, helping to guide asset managers and occupiers on how to maximise their workplace investments. So why does connectivity matter and what do FM teams need to know?
First, the advent of more flexible working hasn’t reduced the importance of workplace tech – in fact it has heightened it. As many of us adjusted to life working in our dining rooms, kitchens or bedrooms over the past 12 months, the value of having a physical space to meet, share ideas and socialise with our co-workers became increasingly clear. We might work from home a few days a week in the years ahead, but Zoom is no replacement for seeing colleagues face to face.
As bosses begin to reassess their workplace needs, they’ll need to be convinced that their offices can support these new ways of working. For employees, if work can be done just as easily at home then the commute into the office will need to be worth it. That means having the technology in place to enable team members to make the most of being physically together: supporting meetings, collaboration and brainstorming, as well as allowing staff to video call those still working from home.
Timing is key
FM teams can support this by encouraging asset managers, landlords and businesses to think early about bringing their digital infrastructure up to scratch. The second key thing teams need to know to do this is that getting digital infrastructure installed into a building takes time – typically more than three months, as it requires complex negotiations around wayleave agreements to secure access.
Three months is a long time for tenants needing access to an office, and for landlords to go without rent. By factoring connectivity into office fit outs from the get-go, facilities teams can help their clients, whether asset managers, tenants or landlords, to avoid frustrating delays.
Connectivity can also be optimised for the ways businesses want to work if FM teams encourage it to be thought about as part of the design phase. Planning new office layouts isn’t just about shifting desks around – for example, Wi-Fi access points will need to move as well.
Connecting the dots
This year has fundamentally shifted our attitude towards the office. As the dust starts to settle, FM teams will have an important role to play in supporting businesses to improve their resilience and performance. Workplaces need connectivity – so let’s help businesses design offices with it in mind.