Flexible and Expandable
One of the tech trend’s biggest catalysts is companies that have bucked the traditional, organic growth model. Designing a space for these companies can be difficult, because who knows how big they’ll be in six months, let alone seven to 10 years? The key is using a modular approach that ensures enough give or take within lease restrictions and limited space availability. So when looking at HVAC zoning, electrical distribution or cable installation, think of how it can be expanded or reduced as necessary. With this in mind, the idea of a seamless wireless environment with his clients, where the wireless network is a natural extension of the wired physical network, but the information and security requirements are common. Also, the convergence of networks, where users can have their data networks on one physically converged network, such as putting physical security devices on the building’s automation system. This convergence not only allows users to limit capital investment and infrastructure footprint, but helps create future flexibility by minimizing cables through walls and floors tethering workstations.
Paper’s Days Are Numbered
The economics of printing will drive away paper as it will eventually be too stressful on the bottom line. Mobile devices are the means of communication and sharing information today, and with the increasing availability of virtual storage, we may soon see the elimination of storage rooms and file cabinets.
The Future of WiFi
While Li-Fi, a wireless network based on the functionality of LED light fixtures that’s supposedly 100 times faster than WiFi, is making great strides to becoming more marketable, it’s still too dependent on continuous LED light sources. Until those issues are figured out, WiFi is still the main connection contender. Wireless display technologies such as WiDi, which allow presentations straight from devices rather than through third-party solutions, expensive projectors and bulky wires. While still not 100% “fully baked”—with different, incompatible software or hardware on devices— expect rapid progress in the next few years. While the tech has a steep cost barrier, it’s one of many opportunities to bring local control and intelligence into the tenant environment. For example, a conference room that has its temperature lowered and its presentation systems powered down because the reservation system shows the room isn’t reserved for an extended period of time saves energy and extends the life of the systems.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
The adoption of new technologies is mainly driven by a company’s culture and industry. When a company asks for an innovative space that takes advantage of accessible technology and open, unassigned seating, it’s important they consider how the changes will impact employee productivity and engagement. It’s not uncommon, to see people wear a big pair of noise reducing, isolating headphones in a “very dramatic counter swing to the drive towards open office.” And whether it be the regulatory compliance or the discomfort of the IT team, few are willing to chuck cables that guarantee the 1GB/sec connections promised in a service level agreement. That’s why, it’s important to have a balance that meshes with each company.
The Evolution of Process
With every new project, challenges itself to ensure and take ownership of tech integration in the mechanical, electrical plumbing and other systems. After all, if a tenant goes into a new conference room and can’t interact with the AV system, they won’t use it again and the money invested in it was wasted. All of this integration, requires heavy coordination and bucking the traditional design process, which sees technology as a “cherry on top.” Rather, technology needs to be addressed in the first client meeting, discussing not only what’s currently possible in a space, but how to keep it constantly updated. You wouldn’t want, for example, to tear apart your drywall to replace your obsolete, overly complicated control systems.
The Future Is Now
Technology has helped move the workplace forward on both the real estate side and the productivity side. In fact, the average space per employee (about 250 SF) reduced to about 150 SF/person.. So while there’s resistance, it’ll only be a matter of time before more companies realize the benefits and competitive advantage of an integrated approach to tech in real estate.