Staff satisfaction makes connectivity in real estate more important than ever

Connectivity in real estate

With 2024 just around the corner, we were happy to head along to industry analyst firm CCS Insight’s annual Predictions 2024 and Beyond event. Their analysts shared insights into their 80+ predictions including on the UK telco market landscape, the connected consumer and the second-hand device market.   

Digital workplace transformation 

One session of particular interest given our in-building connectivity work in real estate was Chief of Enterprise Research Bola Rotibi’s “Digital Workplace Transformation” presentation. Of course, ways of working have changed a lot post-pandemic. Many people now expect to be able to work from wherever they are, using whatever device they prefer. And employee expectations continue to rise thanks to consumer technology trends and shifting workforce dynamics.

Businesses are more reliant than ever on technology to support day-to-day operations, connect their staff and provide an environment for innovation.

And when people are in the office, they don’t want to have any issues with technology. Some of the biggest dislikes of office workers in CCS Insight’s research were around connectivity; poor mobile signal, slow Wi-Fi and unreliable Wi-Fi were all cited as dislikes. User experience is key to ensuring workers not only want to keep coming into the office, but that they are productive while they’re there. And there’s little that’s more annoying when you’re trying to get something done than the connectivity going down!

Ninety per cent of occupiers are willing to pay a premium for a tech-enabled space

Research from global real estate services company JLL found real estate technology is seen as a key competitive advantage, driving productivity and helping to improve operational efficiency, achieve significant cost savings and reduce environmental impact. Their research found 90% of occupiers are willing to pay a premium for a tech-enabled space and over 80% of companies are planning to increase their technology budgets despite a challenging operating environment.

The right technology needs to be built on the right digital infrastructure. Wi-Fi is often what people first think of when it comes to office connectivity. But because it uses unregulated spectrum it can become overburdened by lots of users and also suffer from interference, meaning a poor-quality user experience. Wi-Fi calling is much less reliable than direct mobile connectivity (resulting in missed calls and poor call/data quality), usually needs to be configured manually and isn’t available on all handsets.

Future-proofing connectivity for 5G and beyond

For an organisation to be truly resilient it also needs to have good mobile connectivity. And given the popularity of bring your own device now, this mobile connectivity needs to be for all four UK mobile network operators (MNOs) and can be done via a neutral host.

Unfortunately, many buildings suffer from poor mobile signal. This can be due to the thick walls you often see in Grade II listed buildings, the energy efficient glass used in modern buildings, or a plethora of other factors. Thankfully there is a solution; mobile signal can be brought into buildings via a distributed antenna system (for larger, more complicated venues), or via small cells. Both approaches connect directly into the MNOs’ core networks, meaning a guaranteed quality of service. This means everyone in the building, no matter if they’re staff or a visitor, has assured mobile connectivity.

Mobile connectivity is an excellent platform to build on for a huge range of other technologies and apps. Once you have that resilient layer of digital infrastructure, it can see an organisation through 4G, 5G and beyond.

The “flight to quality” in real estate

There is currently high demand for premium office space, with many businesses looking to tempt workers back into the office by providing the best possible surroundings and amenities. This “flight to quality” has seen a record number of office refurbishments starting in London this summer as landlords looked to improve blocks that corporate renters increasingly are shunning. Between April and September, renovation work began on 34 buildings totalling 3.3 million sq ft of workspace, according to Deloitte’s latest office crane survey. It’s the second time in a row in Deloitte’s survey that the number of new refurbishments getting under way has broken records.

Digital connectivity is a fundamental component of premium office space. Research from smart technology certification experts WiredScore found that the performance of rents, occupancies and lease terms for WiredScore-certified buildings outperform those that are not certified.

A prediction for 2025

In fact, another of CCS Insight’s predictions is that: By 2025, a connectivity performance rating is mandated as part of the sale of any property in a major European market. The legislation mirrors the UK’s Energy Performance Certificate, which rates the energy efficiency of buildings. The connectivity performance rating includes an assessment of indoor and outdoor mobile coverage by each network operator and the current and expected status of full-fibre broadband. Its introduction comes in the wake of reports that access to high-quality connectivity has a growing impact on property prices.

Mobile connectivity is only going to become more important for organisations across every sector. By getting the right digital infrastructure in place today, real estate owners and businesses will reap the benefits tomorrow and well into the future.

In you’d like to learn more about how your in-building connectivity can be enhanced, contact us today.