Office news 23rd February 2015

It has been suggested by some observers that the increasing use of mobile technology in the work place, the rise in remote working and need for flexible working patterns will see a decline in the need for office space and have even been described by some as a sign of the “decline of location” – the move away from working in fixed locations, says David Herzog of BNP Paribas.

The argument goes that as we all start working from remote locations, the less we will need to have dedicated office or desk space. The counter-argument is that in an age of collaborative working there is even more of a need for teams to come together and work on a project-by-project basis and that the office building needs to be more flexible in the provision of suitable space for such teamwork. Mobile technology complements this approach and this debate has been added to by the growing phenomenon of “Bring Your Own Device” (or BYOD if you prefer acronyms) a work place trend that has seen employees of firms using their own mobile phones and mobile devices in the course of their day-to-day work.

One of the biggest barriers to the more widespread use of mobile technology has been the speed and reliability of data connectivity. However, an announcement by digital communications giant EE that it had switched on its high speed “4G+ technology” in central London is likely to further drive this use of mobile devices in the workplace and provide a further boost to the capital’s mobile workers.

EE claims that the new technology will offer mobile internet data speeds of 150 Mbps to smartphones and reports that 4G+ is available in large parts of the capital that include Shoreditch and the Old Street area, the Southbank, Soho, Westminster and Kensington. The aim is for full coverage for London by June of next year after which the 4G+ technology will be rolled out in other major UK cities including Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester. Such high speed data access will certainly be a boost for the businesses and mobile workers and it is no surprise that the areas selected to receive the technology first include parts of London’s “Tech City” – the focal point of the burgeoning technology and web-based industries.

These industries, as well as being early adopters of mobile technology are also highly likely to be using contract and project staff and the high speed data will make it easier to integrate temporary staff into teams with minimal disruption or the need to extend or boost Wi-Fi networks. On the basis that BYOD is increasing in popularity, the new high speed data connections should also prove attractive to businesses looking attracting and retaining the best talent and could be a factor in the “war for talent”. There can be no doubting that flexible working practices are here to stay and the arrival (and subsequent growth) of high-speed data connectivity for the mobile worker will continue to transform not only the way in which we work but also the buildings in which we work from.