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Wednesday, 27 May

Workplace Digital Capabilities Critical To Business Survival

Workplace Digital Capabilities Critical To Business Survival

COVID-19 has the accelerated integration of technology into our working lives – the future office must adapt, says technologywithin’s Richard Morris.

In this guest piece, Morris writes about technology’s place in the world, and how it will feature centrally in business tenants' decisions around leasing new space, a “fourth utility” as important as functioning toilets and flowing taps.

After completing an MBA, Morris went on to become the MD of IT services business MCW Group Ltd, providing IT networking, technology and training service. Clients included M&S Financial Services, Unilever and Shell Research. In 2008, Morris took the opportunity to sell the business and joined the acquiring business, Keycom PLC, becoming Sales Director and joined the PLC board, listed on AIM. Notable clients included University of Edinburgh and Aspire Defence. Then in 2011, Morris joined ip-Xchange Ltd as Sales Director. More recently and following the merger of ip-Xchange and Stickman Technologies, Morris is now the Sales and Marketing Director at technologywithin.

 

“Even before COVID-19, estimates suggested that 72% of digitally unconnected spaces will become obsolete in the not so distant future.”

–Richard Morris

Sales and Marketing Director, technologywithin 

 

Accelerated integration of technology into our working lives

 

Sophisticated technological infrastructure was already becoming a feature of our workplaces before COVID-19. However, the prolonged period of remote working we are living through has, for many of us, expedited the integration of these technologies into our working norms. 

While many of the effects of COVID-19, from lockdowns to social distancing, will eventually pass, the changes this pandemic has exacted on our increasingly digital world of work will be long-lasting. Indeed, even before COVID-19, estimates suggested that 72% of digitally unconnected spaces will become obsolete in the not so distant future.

From fostering productivity, facilitating flexible working habits and protecting worker wellbeing, workplace technologies will be vital aspects of the office for the post-COVID-19 workforce. With technological revolution in our working lives now at full pace, our office spaces must respond now, or risk being left behind by tomorrow’s tenants.

 

Powering productivity

 

In recent years, the value of technology and robust connectivity to business performance and productivity has become increasingly clear to employers and workplace operators alike, many of whom had previously viewed sophisticated technological infrastructure as little more than a bonus.

However, what COVID-19 has made irrefutably clear is that these workplace digital capabilities are not only valuable, they are critical to survival, with high quality and reliable connectivity now among businesses most important priorities and likely to remain so well after this pandemic.

Indeed, even before COVID-19, four-fifths (81%) of commercial office tenants reported that better connectivity means better business performance, according to a report by Clutton's.

Our post-COVID-19 offices must clearly adapt to this, better leveraging workplace technologies from IoT capabilities to super-fast WiFi. By doing so, the offices of our future will be well placed to enhance communication channels across teams, improve the efficiency with which workforces can operate and in turn, significantly benefit business’ bottom lines.

 

Facilitating flexible working

 

While the frustrations of remote working and the renewed appreciation for workplace community during COVID-19 clearly make theories on the demise of the office after this pandemic implausible, we can expect to see a radical increase in more flexible working styles. Indeed, a recent survey by Propmodo found that already around a quarter of people would like to work from home more following lockdown, with this number likely to increase further as our workforces become more adept at operating remotely.

Far from making the office redundant, a greater trend towards more flexible working heightens the need for a physical office to deliver the advanced and sophisticated technological capabilities necessary to cater to a more footloose workforce. Without a hub to ensure services from robust virtual conferencing or a reliable secure centralised network, offices will find themselves at odds with increasingly flexible tenants.

 

“Far from making the office redundant, a greater trend towards more flexible working heightens the need for a physical office to deliver the advanced and sophisticated technological capabilities necessary to cater to a more footloose workforce.”

 –Richard Morris

Sales and Marketing Director, technologywithin 

 

Fostering wellbeing

 

A further area where workers are benefitting from workplace technology is wellbeing. Mental wellbeing already has a significant impact on workplace productivity, with the Office for National Statistics indicating that 17.5 million working days in the UK were lost due to poor mental health in 2018. Understandably health concerns, isolation from colleagues and family, and frustrations brought about by COVID-19 lockdowns have had further significant bearing on worker mental health.

It’s hardly surprising then that worker wellbeing now registers so high on the agenda for employers, with technologically advanced office environments able to make significant steps in managing worker wellbeing now and after the pandemic.  Basic capabilities, such as temperature control apps, or natural lighting technology have a major impact on the health and wellbeing of workers, while streamlined systems from meeting room booking to reliable communication platforms have the potential to massively reduce stress in the post-COVID-19 office.

 

“Those that fail to adapt will struggle to remain relevant”

 

We can expect a transition to more diverse and flexible working environments, with businesses deploying new combinations of homeworking, working near home and more traditional office environments going forward. However, as we prepare to navigate a return to the office in the wake of a new normal, with productivity, flexibility and wellbeing at the heart of the agenda, landlords, employers and office providers must recognise the value of sophisticated workplace technology. 

Those that fail to adapt will struggle to remain relevant, while those that do seize the potential of technology will be able to deliver an office that is fit for purpose now and well after COVID-19 has passed.

Picture: A person pausing in an office communal space

Article written by Richard Morris

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