Workplace technology is a term that is gaining more and more steam as organizations look to build out new office space to hire the growing millennial workforce as well as leverage the space as a recruiting tool. Workplace technology is one of the most misunderstood concepts in the construction and real estate industry today. Ten years ago, Information Technology (IT) represented 7.0% of the tenant interior construction budget. Today, technology (IT) and audio/visual requirements can exceed 25.0% of the total build out cost.
How to Build a Technology Enabled Workspace.As companies look for a competitive advantage to maximize employee productivity, there are key elements they must understand that are required to build out a Technology Enabled Workspace:
- Choose the right technology for the right space. Don’t get caught up in choosing the technology based on the manufacturer, providers and products until you create the IT Guiding Principles for the space and how your employees want to leverage technology in the space. Too many times a decision gets based on a manufacturer’s product name or reputation. You cannot “template” a technology design for your space; you need to understand how your Workplace Strategy concepts align to how the technologies will be adopted in the space.
- Start with the end user first, then design the space. The paradigm has shifted from when you used to pick a building, build out the space and then figure out the technology at the end. Today, you must understanding how the employees want to work in the space, what technologies will increase their workflow and then map them to outcomes that will produce high adoption rates. Essentially, you start with the end user and then work backwards. Companies that go through initial Envisioning sessions to understand how the technology they current use is perceived by their employees as compared to the technologies they are considering for their new space achieve the highest return on investment.
- Partner early with the design and support teams. Plan the space with the objective to make IT a proactive exercise; not the typical fire drill when system do not work. At a typical company, the reason you go to the IT department is when your computer does not work or you can’t access certain applications. Technology in the workplace should be as seamless as the technology in your home. Focus on making the end user experience easy, user friendly and reliable so that your IT staff can focus on being a profit center for the company, not a cost center.
- Build a comprehensive budget. Too many times new office space build outs categorize “IT” as cabling only. Adaptive wireless, mobility and collaboration tools are now more important than the lighting, cooling and furniture. Let’s face it, if the network is down your company can’t work so proper planning from the beginning is crucial. A modern IT construction budget must include more than parts and cabling. The best budget also include cost allocations for: pre-design research, envisioning sessions and adoption benchmarks, change management communications, migration planning and post installation analysis and modification. Unfortunately, the typical construction budget looks to place IT costing into the all well-known “cost per square foot” for each line item. What results is the technology needs of the space are crammed into the assumed budget number for IT. This approach sets up the typical project for failure before it begins.