Office refurbishment projects are incredibly important for keeping businesses current, improving the performance of employees, and even in attracting new recruits. In fact, a fifth of current 18- to 24-year-olds admit they have rejected a potential employer due to unimpressive office design and outdated amenities.
Inspiring this younger generation often requires integrating modern technology and undertaking a refurbishment project can provide the ideal opportunity to reassess current tech and consider new additions.
Before contacting designers, tech firms, or office interior design companies, the first step in choosing the right technology for your remodeled office is to find out what employees need. Speak with employees, use performance data, consult with business leaders and hear what they have to say.
Generally, employees want greater flexibility. 77% of millennials believe flexible work hours would make them more productive, and the desire to occasionally work from home is also a growing trend. This requires technology to be in place so employees can communicate at all hours, wherever they are.
Take the time to speak to employees about specific technology that can help them to do their job more effectively. Ask them about technology they think needs to be improved, or existing technology that frustrates them — then look into finding solutions.
Focus on improvements
Think about the way your business operates and what you're good at, as well as the things that need improvement. You are going to need to analyze performance data, but also speak to employees about the pain points they have or the areas of weakness they have identified.
"Technology is a tool that helps you do what you do better, faster, or more efficiently," Inc.com says. "A good place to start is to ask everyone to take a moment to estimate how much time they devote to various, but specific activities each week. Once you have that data, you should look for information that might surprise you."
By focusing on areas of weakness, you can ensure the technology you introduce as part of your office space planning and refurbishment project will have the most significant and noticeable impact. If you notice communication is a key issue, focus on communications technology. If you notice customer service is an issue, focus on CRM tech solutions.
Empower mobile usage
When working with office interior design companies to come up with a layout that facilitates technology, businesses tend to focus on things like computers, laptops, and printers. However, mobile uptake has now surpassed even laptops, with 85% percent of UK adults owning a smartphone, compared with the 78% who own a laptop.
Increasingly, mobile apps such as WhatsApp, Skype, and Join.Me are being used within offices, and companies need to select the right technology to empower mobile usage. It may mean providing phone charging stations, supplying headphones for video conferencing purposes, or ensuring Wi-Fi is available everywhere.
This office mobile adoption also links with the concept of office space planning because the shift toward mobile technology requires modern design solutions. Employees may need an area to use Skype to communicate with a client. The placement of mobile charging stations needs to be thought through — storage space for headphones, hands-free sets, and other technology should be allocated.
BRING IN YOUR IT DEPARTMENT
In most offices the IT-related technology is most frequently used and thus most likely to need to be upgraded as part of a refurbishment or office space planning project. For this reason, it is sensible to involve the IT department in the planning process.
Speak to IT leaders and get a feel for what they think needs to be done. You should also consult with them and find out which technology they expect to become dominant in the years ahead.
The recommendations made by the IT department may involve purchasing new equipment or hardware, but may also involve updating software, security systems, and processes. Regardless, an office refurbishment is the perfect opportunity to get a jump on the competition and to attempt to future-proof your workplace.
Stick to the numbers
Finally, it is important that you live within your means and do not overspend in your attempts to update your technology or enhance the appearance of your new refurbishment. New technology can be a big plus point, but not if it comes at too great an expense, so you must work with your finance department to establish a clear budget.
Of course, when establishing your budget, you need to consider the cost of purchasing the new technology as well as the cost of setting it up, or installing it. Moreover, you also need to consider various additional costs associated with the tech, such as the cost of teaching staff how to use it.
"Don't forget training," says Alyssa Ennis, writing for the Small Business Bonfire website. "You can invest thousands upon thousands in up-to-the-minute technology, but if nobody knows how to use it effectively then your business will still not be working at optimum efficiency."
About the Author:
Reno is a founder and director of Enigma Visual Solutions, a London based commercial interior design firm, offering office design services, office refurbishment, office space planning, and commercial interior services. He enjoys sharing his thoughts on upcoming marketing ideas and design trends. For more, follow him on Twitter.