There was a time when office space location was everything. It still is, to a degree. In fact most business centre operators would probably agree that ‘location, location, location’ is as important today as it has always been.
But a new study has found some compelling results that could blow this theory out of the water.
A survey of 450 office workers and business owners by WiredScore, released in June 2015, found that 78% of respondents ranked access to reliable Internet connection as the most important factor in selecting office space and doing business.
The study concluded: “Reliable connectivity is the #1 most important influencing factor for workers in selecting office space, ahead of transportation, location, amenities, views and environmental sustainability.”
Internet connection is more important than office location. Let that sink in for a moment.
In today’s digital age, this shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. Yet it does hold significant ramifications for business centre and coworking operators. We are moving steadily towards a more flexible business landscape, and this research places yet another critical piece in the future workplace puzzle.
That said, it’s worth bearing in mind that the exact questions used in the study have not been made available, nor have the industries of those polled. For instance, one would expect that IT, software or digital marketing firms would more likely value Internet connectivity over physical location; yet the likes of city traders or high street outlets would always put location at the top of their priority list.
But this research is impossible to ignore. It could dramatically level the playing field for out-of-town business centres, providing of course that those locations have a reliable Internet connection that can rival their city centre counterparts.
There’s the rub. It’s no secret that rural businesses struggle to gain access to solid fibre optic Internet, often relying instead on the more unstable and bandwidth-limiting option of copper wiring. A common limitation is unequal upload/download speeds, which is highly impractical and hair-pullingly slow for companies that send large files on a regular basis. Think marketing or creative firms that frequently send high-resolution files via email or cloud storage.
(That said, even the most solid city centre fibre optic broadband may offer unequal upload/download speeds, which is dependent on the packages your Internet Service Provider is offering – so always check the smallprint first)
Positively, the tide is turning, as more organisations are investing in rural connectivity. Take Gigaclear for instance, which created its entire business model around installing high-speed fibre optic broadband in some of the UK’s most remote locations.
97% say high-speed Internet “critical”
WiredScore itself knows a thing or two about the importance of corporate connectivity. This organisation offers certification for commercial office properties based on their standard of Internet connectivity, and rates them accordingly. With that in mind, take a look at some of the other results from their survey:
- 97% of office workers and office location decision-makers surveyed consider high-speed, reliable internet connectivity a critical factor in choosing their office space.
- Office workers consider reliable connectivity “critical” to doing business by a more than 2 to 1 margin over office location decision makers, 78% to 31%
- Connectivity outages and slowness disrupt business at least once a month on average, and more than twice a week for 1 in 4 respondents.
- More than half of office workers (61%) admit they stop working and waste time when the internet goes down.
Today, it goes without saying that reliable connectivity is critical in business. Even the smallest business requires an online connection – be it for email or access to online banking – while many firms now rely on the web entirely.
The following infographic from WiredScore’s survey certainly puts things into perspective. It’s compelling stuff, and further evidence that it’s no longer enough to offer a broadband connection or Wi-Fi in your business centre. It needs to be of a certain standard, and that bar just keeps on rising.
As Wired Score puts it: “We live in a digital age. It’s no longer enough for a property owner to simply provide an internet connection for its tenants. Commercial tenants have ever-growing connectivity needs, and if a building doesn’t meet their standards, they’ll go somewhere else.”