What piece of tech has made the biggest difference to your job in recent years? In terms of delivering successful office moves and fit-outs for clients, there have been a few emerging technologies that really help understand a business’ use of space, which in turn helps us advise on everything from the size of office they need and how we fit it out.
Movement trackers – such as those provided by Leesman, Iserv and Hatch Analytics – have really come to the fore recently. They measure desk, room and breakout space to show the real usage that areas of an office get from employees. Monitoring for a client a few months ahead of them engaging with a search agent enables us to sit down with them and determine how efficiently they use their current space and, in turn, what space they need from their new office. On a number of occasions this has led to rental savings because the client discovers they don’t need as many square feet of space as they thought. With flexi-working becoming more common, the idea of having a desk per staff member is a dated concept and can leave business owners paying for space that isn’t used efficiently. Task-related work areas, between which staff move during the course of the day, dependent on what they are doing and whether this is a solitary or team activity, are becoming increasingly popular as a space-saving solution too.
Similarly, automated meeting room bookers and touch pad checking in is helping businesses see just how much their boardrooms and meeting rooms are being used or, more importantly, how much they are not being used. Meeting spaces get booked but not used with alarming regularity and with a change in mindset and the removal of one or two closed meeting rooms, space can be opened up for more casual and flexible meeting spaces.
If you could invent one new piece of tech, what would it be? A coffee machine that never breaks down. We spend our time coming up with multitudes of clever solutions for how businesses occupy their workplace, but I bet they would swap every space-saving trick in the book for a coffee machine that keeps the workforce going without any fear of it breaking down.
What one new/developing technology are you watching closely? There have been a few attempts at infra-red wifi systems and none have really set the world alight because the scope of the beam has been too localised. The latest attempt is LiFi, which works through the lighting system and is claimed to emit stronger wireless signals on a room-to-room basis than regular wifi routers. I’m yet to be convinced, but if it can deliver greater connection speeds in offices, then it could take off.
Jeremy Luck is project director at office move and fit-out consultancy, Crown Workplace.