Location has always played a big role in attracting more business tenants: the ideal office space is centrally located and as close as possible to other businesses and services.
Location makes it easier to collaborate with other businesses, brings clients closer and makes it easier to squeeze more meetings into the day. It also makes your office a more desirable location for others to come and see you.
Location attracts and retains the best talent too, thanks to convenience, transports and services such as shops and bars available to employees.
It’s no surprise that it ranks as one of the top three most important factors when searching for office space, right behind cost.
The third factor however, may come as a surprise: connectivity.
This may sound counter-intuitive: doesn’t connectivity make location irrelevant?
Though Manchester counts over 62,000 digital jobs, the people involved in those teams are very much immersed in their local communities: with the still rare exception of distributed teams, location still plays a key role in attracting talent and business connections.
Connectivity and location aren’t in competition: internet access has become the fourth dimension of business location. Ultrafast connectivity puts any business right in the centre of global commerce, just like a convenient location puts any team right in the centre of local exchanges.
Just as place gives you and your team access to services and connections around you, ultrafast internet gives you and your employees access to online services and connections, opening up opportunities for talent, more business and…faster business and exchanges, just like those meetings in the city centre.
Welcome to plug-and-play internet
Traditionally, office connectivity is something tenants sort out for themselves.
Just like residential tenants moving into their new home, new teams would have to deal directly with the provider, and wait to get connected to their speed requirement.
It could take a long time between moving in and getting connected, and though the tenant can choose what speed they want, the upper limit depends on how modern the building’s connectivity is; unless the tenant is willing to upgrade the infrastructure, especially by bringing wireless fibre speed to their particular office.
Imagine if the same happened for water or electricity: you move in and have to bring in your own pipes to the kitchen. In the meantime, you are without power waiting to be connected for 10 days, and once you do get activated, your consumption is capped, unless you connect your own cables. It sounds absurd, but it’s exactly what happens with connectivity, which most businesses rely upon.
Luckily, things are moving on.
As increasing numbers of tenants require ultrafast connectivity, expectations are changing, shifting responsibility from the tenant to the landlord. Tenants are no longer willing to wait days or weeks to get connected, as that means not being able to use the office space at all.
They expect to be able to move in, physically and digitally, without delays, or they might look elsewhere.
On the other hand, by leveraging the fourth dimension of location – ultrafast connectivity – landlords can differentiate and add value to their building, attracting better tenants, larger teams, and even more businesses without overwhelming the digital infrastructure.
The biggest challenge landlords face is that most buildings in Britain were built before the internet even existed. Urban areas where fibre is available are no exception: most buildings are not equipped with the infrastructure to bring such speed to every tenant. This creates serious limitations for what landlords can actually provide.
To be able to provide plug-and-play ultrafast internet to each tenant, landlords must prepare their building in advance, so that it’s ready when a new team moves in.
This sounds like a daunting task, leaving the building inaccessible to tenants. Luckily, that’s not the case: pre-connecting a building is actually much less disruptive and longer-lasting than having each tenant upgrade their own connectivity and then uninstalling it when they leave. To make this a reality, Telcom have rolled out Preconnect, a full solution to help landlords provide tenant-ready fibre infrastructure so that when a tenant moves in, they will have an ultrafast internet connection ready and waiting for them in their unit, within 24 hours.
This helps shift the interest from the tenant to the landlord, with business benefits for both sides. Landlords will be able to make their building competitive and more appealing, attract better, and even monetise the connectivity offered. Tenants will be able to plug into up to 1Gbps speeds within 24 hours of moving in, avoiding the hassle of having to arrange their own connectivity.
This shift is also an important step to upgrading the nation’s infrastructure and making buildings that were built before the internet truly future-proof.
Doug Ward is a co-founder of Telcom and Node.