To Remain A Destination For Remote Talent, Denver Needs A Different Technology Plan
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Thanks to the prevalence of new satellite offices and big-name corporate relocations, Denver has become a mecca for remote workers. A growing portion of Denver’s workforce needs to communicate and collaborate throughout the workday with teams thousands of miles away.
Office space in the city is becoming scarce and companies that rely on remote employees are finding fewer offices that offer the digital infrastructure they need to support a distributed team. As developers look to bring digital infrastructure to Denver’s workspaces, they can make crucial mistakes in design and implementation that hinder their spaces’ tech readiness both immediately and years down the line.
“We want to make sure that companies and their employees have the tools they need to be as creative and collaborative as possible,” said Ken Wilkinson, chief enablement officer at Layer 10 Consulting, a Denver-based workspace technology consultancy. “Too often, IT doesn’t get a say in the planning and design process, and tenants start looking elsewhere for the most productive, tech-enabled office spaces. This is especially true in the case of adaptive reuse projects.”
Companies have long been flocking to Denver from the East and West Coasts in search of new talent, opening satellite offices or incubating small teams in coworking spaces. Simultaneously, a few big-name companies like Chipotle have moved out of Denver, leaving behind batches of employees who join conferences and team meetings via laptop and webcam.
Increasingly, Wilkinson said, the day-to-day responsibilities of these many remote teams requires face-to-face interaction, streaming and heavy-duty broadband.
“We’re not talking about just a phone call,” Wilkinson said. “These are creative agencies and design firms and record labels. To be productive, they need to be able to trade massive images and files and host crystal-clear video conferences all day long.”
The shortage of office space in Denver is also contributing to the need for remote communication. Wilkinson recalled one company that was unable to find a single space large enough to accommodate its entire staff and ended up splitting its employees among two office spaces and a third coworking space. Though the team didn’t have a coastal headquarters to report back to, the employees still ended up working remotely.
To solve these cumbersome piecemeal arrangements, developers are working feverishly to bring new space to market in Denver, constructing new buildings and adapting former warehouses into office space. Too often, though, Wilkinson said, developers fail to consider the technological infrastructure that tenants need, or make critical mistakes that ruin their chances with tech-savvy tenants.
“Developers call me up with crises — they can’t get cell reception in their building because their energy-efficient windows block the signal, or they didn't budget in enough space for a Distributed Antenna System or white noise emitting system,” Wilkinson said. “Layer 10 can work through those issues, but what we’d prefer is to have a seat at the design table to make sure that these problems never come up in the first place.”
Bringing in a technology consultant early in the design process can save tremendous costs in the long run, Wilkinson said, by avoiding renovations to make last-minute changes to construction plans in support of unexpected technology needs or to add new infrastructure. He said planning can also make sure developers are focused on solving the right problems and ensuring the technology aligns to the organization's culture and workflows.
“We sometimes get clients who say ‘We need this technology,’ and our job is to back up and say, ‘All right, why do you need that? What problem does it solve for your employees?” Wilkinson said. “Rather than leading with the technology, we take a user-focused approach to make sure end users’ needs are actually being served.”
Wilkinson said there is no single formula for a tech-enabled space, and that a design firm will have different digital needs than a healthcare provider.
To save costs in the long term, developers in Denver can also weave adaptability into the fabric of their buildings. While Wilkinson said he can’t predict exactly what sort of technology the future will hold, he wants to make sure offices are as prepared as possible for the technology needs that are foreseeable, like 5G cellular networks and increased bandwidth.
“Ten years from now, every device in the office could be connected to the Internet of Things, and we could all be wearing augmented reality glasses or checking in with robot security staff, but obviously I can’t say for sure,” Wilkinson said. “What I can comfortably predict is that there will be significantly more devices running over the same network, so buildings need more bandwidth with more secure and better managed networks to be sufficient for the workspace of the future. In this way, we help our clients prepare for an exciting yet uncertain future."
This feature was produced by Bisnow Branded Content in collaboration with Layer 10 Consulting. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.