3 Trends To Watch As Employees Return To The Office
Businesses are converting to a hybrid workforce model to accommodate a new digital-first culture that merges remote and physical spaces. As companies welcome employees back to the office, many new factors are at play. From implementing new health and safety standards to ensuring connectivity corner-to-corner, digital transformation has been prioritized, with 5G technologies front and center.
“5G and converged wireless networks will keep offices resilient into the future,” said Michael Zeto, senior vice president of global strategy and emerging businesses for Boingo Wireless, a leading connectivity provider for the commercial real estate industry.
Bisnow sat down with Zeto to hear his message of resiliency and to learn what trends are shaping the future of work. He highlighted three key areas.
The Office Looks Different
Offices are adopting touchless technologies to summon elevators, check employee temperatures and perform basic tasks like opening doors, dispensing soap and water in restrooms, and sanitizing surfaces. Sophisticated HVAC systems have been installed to filter indoor air and reduce airborne contaminants. New shared workspaces have changed office design.
Hoteling, for instance, is a new approach that replaces permanently assigned office seats with shared work areas. With fewer desks in smaller spaces, hoteling requires employees to reserve a workspace ahead of time when they need to come in.
“Companies are finding that hoteling arrangements fill that hybrid sweet spot between people working from home and utilizing the office space for important meetings and other events,” Zeto said. “To make this model seamless, connectivity must be completely wireless, high-speed and secure with no dead spaces.”
Today’s Office Is Connected, And Convergence Is King
Modern work environments can't be successfully supported by older, dated technologies if a building is to compete for tenants. Instead, they call for the adoption of a comprehensive connected wireless strategy.
“5G has arrived and fast, secure networks are the new table stakes, whether you’re in an office or mixed-use spaces like retail and restaurants,” Zeto said. "Simply putting up a few WiFi access points in your space no longer cuts it.”
Instead, enterprises will need to adopt a mix of licensed, unlicensed and shared spectrum approaches, drawing on cellular, private networks and Internet of Things solutions, among others, he said. This mix may include distributed antenna systems that disseminate and enhance carriers’ cellular signals throughout venues. The in-building coverage of DAS helps counteract network limitations with penetrating walls and low-emissivity glass. Installing an enterprise-grade DAS ensures property staff, tenants and guests receive the best in-building mobile experience.
Often paired with DAS is WiFi, the tried-and-true method of connectivity in office buildings. WiFi 6, the latest generation of the technology, provides faster performance, lower latency and less bandwidth congestion than previous iterations and helps to bridge the gap created by 5G inside buildings.
Mobile data offloading to WiFi networks reduces the amount of data being carried on cellular bands, freeing up bandwidth for other users. It has also been used in situations where cell reception may be spotty, allowing tenants to connect via wired services with better reliability.
A relatively new offering in the technology space is private networks, designed to deliver the increased security, reliability, lower latency and bandwidth required to enable enterprise applications. In addition to advanced capabilities, they offer flexible deployment options, allowing progressive enterprises to drive digital transformation on their own terms and optimize their networking environments based on the unique needs of their business.
In commercial real estate, private networks can run on the Citizens Broadband Radio Service spectrum and are ideal for powering IoT connectivity, security management and connected utilities. Beyond the office, private networks can support enterprise needs like manufacturing robotics, advanced asset tracking or IoT for industrial safety.
Offered via a network-as-a-service model, private networks are ideal for customers who want the benefits of a cellular network that guarantees control and data ownership while removing the hassle of network management.
Alas, there is no one-size-fits-all technology solution for CRE. What is required is a seamless convergence of various technologies to meet and exceed tenants’ continuous expectations for high-speed mobile data service anytime, anywhere on a commercial real estate property.
World-Class Venues Lead The Way
This adoption of next-generation wireless to enable business in the 5G era is already well underway, Zeto said. Already, 77% of CEOs report that the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated their digital transformation plans, in many cases by a matter of three or four years.
In New York, the World Trade Center Oculus transportation hub implemented Boingo’s state-of-the-art, multicarrier cellular distributed antenna system networks. DAS is also deployed by Boingo at Chicago’s One North Wacker high-rise and at San Francisco’s Salesforce Transit Center, where it keeps thousands of commuters and employees connected every day.
Zeto predicted that more enterprises across the country will adopt these connectivity solutions, particularly in the race to attract new tenants. He also said that in addition to DAS and WiFi, the demand for private networks using the CBRS spectrum is growing.
“It’s a case of disrupt or be disrupted, but fortunately, the industry is resilient and the tools are available to ensure a strong recovery,” he said. “5G technologies continue to evolve and scale for businesses and their bottom line. Now more than ever, a strong wireless strategy is key. The impact and benefits of digital transformation to offices and their tenants will be enormous.”
This article was produced in collaboration between Boingo Wireless and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.
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