- Corporates are rethinking their use of commercial real estate in a bid to integrate more flexibility into their portfolios.
- Technology is key to enable this transition, providing it can live up to stringent requirements for connectivity and security.
- Allwork.Space spoke with four experts at essensys to find out what enterprise clients expect from flexible workspaces, and what operators need to do to ensure a seamless experience for larger occupiers.
The current situation is prompting corporates to rethink their use of commercial real estate and how they can integrate flexibility into their workplace portfolios.
Some operators are better placed than others to accommodate enterprise clients in their workspaces. But it’s not just a question of space and square footage — it’s about technology.
Large companies considering flexible space bring a long list of connectivity and security requirements, and in a post-COVID world, this list is set to become even more stringent.
To find out what enterprise clients expect from flexible workspaces, Allwork.Space spoke with four technology experts at essensys, the market leader in software-controlled technology and services for the flexible workspace sector: David Kinnaird (COO), Bryn Sadler (CTO), Barry Clark (CIO) and Steve Keeling, Director of Global Networks and Infrastructure.
For the full discussion, tune in here.
5 Tech Must-Haves for Enterprise Clients
What is the impact of rising corporate demand for coworking and flexible space?
“This isn’t new, many enterprise clients are already using coworking and flex space,” said Kinnaird. “But there’s a difference in volume, and a difference in terms of needs.
“It’s important that coworking operators can deal with enterprise technology requirements; it’s about knowing your space and knowing the needs of the companies you are targeting.”
1. Three places of work, one cloud-based tech infrastructure.
One big change is that individuals who are currently working flexibly will want to continue doing so in the future. That doesn’t necessarily mean they want to stay at home, but they will want to retain an element of flexibility and work in two or three different places — the main office, the home, and a third place, possibly a regional flexible space. How can organisations manage that triangle — and how do coworking spaces feed into it?
“It comes down to cloud strategy,” said Sadler. “Anyone with a significantly advanced cloud strategy will find the process much easier than an organisation that has its tech infrastructure sitting in a computer room somewhere. The cloud shifts the emphasis and enables secure and reliable access.
The key requirement here is secure, reliable Internet connectivity, which becomes all-important for companies coming into the space with an existing cloud infrastructure.
2. Next level security.
A bigger client means more people, data, systems, and stringent security requirements.
“In terms of secure access, you need to be a step up from what a lot of the industry is offering,” said Sadler. “A single wireless network with a shared passphrase won’t pass muster with enterprise companies. Often, these clients want to bring in their own fixed infrastructure, so you’ll need to provide easily managed yet secure public access and secure firewalls. So you’ll need to adapt to their requirements.”
3. Talk the talk, and walk it too.
In addition to being physically able to meet these requirements, coworking space operators should be able to engage and talk about them too. Or, bring in a tech supplier that can.
Operators should expect questions around the quality and security of the services that the enterprise might be consuming, such as Internet access and WiFi, along with questions about the workspace’s existing infrastructure.
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A lot of these questions are answered by having certifications in place. For instance, essensys is ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 certified, which are government-backed standards for quality management and data security. Showing a potential client that your tech supplier has these kitemarks will automatically answer a number of questions.
Sadler added, “ISO certification lets workspaces know that they are getting a certain standard. Ultimately it saves time and speeds up the decision-making process.”
4. Physical security on the premises.
In addition to cloud and data security, enterprise clients want to know how the space is accessed, and how this access is controlled. This applies to general access into the building and the individual office, but also to the systems that enable their team to work efficiently.
For instance, are your communications cupboards, switches and routers access controlled? Who has access to them, and how is that audited?
“The governance that the operator has about how they manage these requirements is going to be questioned much more than it has in the past,” said Sadler. “And that’s where having a standard in place, something like an ISO, can be really beneficial.”
5. Continuity and customer experience.
Each client has their own specific requirements depending on their industry, their workload, the number of people using the space, job roles, work hours, and so on.
The right technology can help manage the customer experience. Given the absolute necessity of constant, reliable connectivity in today’s digital age, these requirements are now mission critical. “If your tech infrastructure can’t deliver what they need, you’re going to lose that deal to someone else,” noted Kinnaird.
One way to ensure continuity is to have the right backup services in place. According to Kinnaird, one of the most common issues is failure of the local access circuit. So how important is a backup solution?
“It’s crucial,” said Keeling. “If you’re running on a single link and there’s a problem on that link, then everyone in the space is affected. If there’s a backup there, the primary can be taken out of service and fixed, the backup comes into play and provides uninterrupted service, and nobody will know there’s a problem. It’s seamless.”
Looking Ahead: Lessons for the Future
Where do we go from here? What lessons are businesses likely to learn from the current situation, and how can workspaces be ready to meet these new needs?
For Clark, it’s about building on existing continuity plans. This goes for workspace companies as well as the teams and businesses that occupy them.
“Even for those businesses that are setup for continuity, this is a chance to innovate their processes, change how they do things, and continually innovate,” he said.
“This scenario has allowed us an opportunity to look at things differently. We knew we could work at home or in different locations, but it’s important to look at how we sustain that over the course of weeks or months. We [at essensys] are looking at how we do things, and improving on them, because we want to come back stronger.”
For Kinnaird, it’s about ensuring people in the business can always access the information they need to continue moving the business forwards. “The key to success is the ability to adapt and be agile. Key to that is, the people who need to do work and make money for their business, do they have the information and systems then need to do that? Can they do it anywhere? If they didn’t have a cloud system already, they need one now.”
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