Ubiquitous connectivity enabling truly mobile working

Connectivity at Workspace

We’re sponsoring season 11 of #Workbold, a podcast dedicated to space-as-a-service (SPaaS). This week’s guest is from flexible office provider Workspace, one of our longest standing enterprise customers. Chris Boultwood is Workspace’s Head of Technology and leads on all things tech – covering customer, corporate and building technology strategies. 

Having been with the business for more than seven years he’s seen an interesting evolution in the way their workspaces are used by their customers and the technology that supports this. 

Chris said: “If I wind the clock back, say three or four years, what was changing then was really around ubiquitous connectivity. That was the main challenge we faced. We have beautifully designed period properties across the capital, they’re intrinsically difficult. So that connectivity requirement for SMEs, that mobility and need to be able to move around the building, actually started three or four years ago if not slightly sooner. The technology has now caught up to deliver that and make sure we can provide the experience that they expect.”  

And Workspace’s commitment to connectivity starts right at the design stage: “Because we own and operate the centres we have the opportunity to invest capital up front at design stage. So we’ll have a building surveyed by Freshwave to give us an idea of what risks there may be to the mobile connectivity when the building is complete. We have customers on viewings looking at potential space that they may take from us. One of the first things they are likely to do is take their mobile out and check if we have signal or not. That can be a deal breaker during a viewing, so for us it has to be planned in advance.” 

More recently the changes have been around how the space is used across Workspace’s estate, with slightly less than 50% of customers using their space in what would be a traditional office layout. The other half uses it in a huge variety of different ways, whether that’s as a podcasting studio, photography studio or lab. And post-pandemic, with people wanting to use workspaces in a more collaborative way, the formats and the layouts within the space for their customers have changed. 

“We allocate 25 to 30% of our net lettable as communal area. And that communal area is used by our customers as much as by visitors and guests who come and sit down in the wonderful cafes we have,” said Chris. “Our customers who take space from us, they genuinely use that communal area on a regular basis. So we’ve created this community of customers who would potentially have bumped into each other previously. But now we have this new way of working where everything’s more mobile. No one is anchored to their office space. They are using the whole business centre. And what’s really awesome about what we do is that we provide that blank canvas for our customers to genuinely use their space, however they see fit. And that for us is what we call truly flexible.” 

Workspace made the decision several years ago to remove the requirement for people to enter information into a captive web portal to log on to the Wi-Fi, as they wanted to have the smoothest possible experience for their customers and visitors; naturally no log in is needed to access mobile connectivity. And the Workspace app is another way that they enhance experience and build engagement. 

Chris said: “We want our customers to understand what’s available to them. Little things like having the menu on there for the café downstairs people find super helpful. Things like accessing meeting rooms. It’s giving us that ability to generally share what we’re about and what’s available and provide extra convenience to our customers.” 

When it comes to what’s next for technology in commercial real estate, Chris sees an opportunity in the future for using generative AI to help their customers.  

Chris said: “One way to use AI is to use the consumption data that customers are generating and start making some predictions using AI in how a small change within the unit can influence their score. The use case for AI within ESG and how it helps our customers is largely around us helping them identify the impact of some of the decisions that they may make within their space. We don’t do this yet but we would look to surface the information about their consumption and there are different ways that we can do that. The app can be used to service that information. We have smart meters across the estate, which customers can log into to understand their consumption. It’s really around using that data and cross-referencing it with decisions that they make.” 

These are just some of the highlights of the podcast. You can listen to the whole discussion on  Apple Podcasts here  or other podcast platforms  here.    

Contact us  to find out more about how we can extend in-building connectivity into your organisation.