Technology and the Evolution of Office Space

A digitally enabled office is no longer the domain of tech giants, but of businesses across all sectors. Companies must accept that what was once optional, is now inevitable.

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Introduction


Office space is now a service, made to fit business strategies where productivity is synonymous with technology enabled collaboration, and employees demand modern conveniences and seamless technology integration so they can focus on the tasks at hand. Driving this technology investment shift is the demand for a unified visual display and communication platform.

To collaborate, people need places to connect. However this is a fundamental need and employees are demanding more from their workplace; they expect high-speed Wi-Fi, wireless charging, personalisation, online room booking, environmental controls and so on, hence companies evolving to deliver these in order to attract and retain talent. As a result, 70% of companies plan to increase investment in real estate technology within the next three years, and 30% see smart building technology as a factor in choosing a building*.

Investment in Workplace Technology


Investment in workplace technology was growing steadily for several years until, unexpectedly, in 2018 we saw a doubling of spend in workplace technology. This can be attributed to a combination of increased adoption and implementation of workplace strategy, and environments being designed for collaboration.

Technology spend on office projects has increased 200% in the last 18 months. In market-leading technology projects, it is not usual for technology spend allocation to account for up to 40% of the total budget. It is important to note that although office space saw expected inflationary increase in cost between 2015 and 2017, the sharp rise in 2018 is due in large part to the notable increase in technology specification.

The technology to create a more efficient workplace is now in our hands, or more accurately, in our smartphones. To achieve corporate goals, company strategies have to drive the technology which should be designed and oriented to support how we work, how we connect with colleagues, and how to make routine and administrative actions simple, allowing greater productivity. The step-change of unified communication and display technology in commercial offices is just the beginning.

The next step-change in technology investment spending could be just around the corner.

“To achieve corporate goals, company strategies have to drive the technology which should be designed and oriented to support how we work, how we connect with colleagues, and how to make routine and administrative actions simple, allowing greater productivity.”

Smarter Workplaces


Technology enabled Internet of Things (IoT) devices make it possible to collect data from all aspects of the corporate office, including BMS, security, lighting, meeting rooms and furniture to name a few. All are sources of data; however, it is not until information is analysed and used properly that it benefits people and the business. In smart offices, data can and is being collected to help create a more efficient workplaces and reduce carbon footprints.

Strategies to achieve business goals are being rewritten. The goals of productivity and profitability remain; however, the journey and the platform to achieve these are changing. Companies are asking:

What does ‘smart’ building mean for me?

What does ‘smart’ office mean for my business?

What is our ‘smart’ vision and how does this support our corporate strategies?

Answering these questions and developing a technology brief that supports corporate strategies will provide the basis for developing ‘space as a service’ and the journey towards developing a suitable smart office.

Technology as a core requirement


The commercial office industry is recognising technology as a core requirement of an attractive, collaborative work environment. Due to the criticality of integrated technologies and smart workplaces, there’s an increasing demand for project management teams with the right technical skillset to get the brief, budget, design and implementation right. This is important when a ‘result-oriented workforce’ demands a superior knowledge-based work environments that improve productivity and allow connection, collaboration and inspiration. These effects also reach landlords who want to have desirable assets. Demands have evolved from sustainable and green buildings to providing infrastructure to accommodate smart offices.

We are transitioning to a new office experience that demands an evolution of the standard commercial building and transformation of our physical space.

CBRE Fit-Out Guide 2019-2020


This article was written with CBRE and forms a part of CBRE’s EMEA Fit-Out Guide 2019-2020. The guide provides a comprehensive analysis of office fit-out pricing and trends across the region. You can read the full guide here.

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