That’s a trick question. You should design your office and tech in tandem.

We’ve all had that awkward moment when you’re giving a presentation and anything that can go wrong, does. Murphy’s Law, right? You can’t get the HDMI to talk to your display port. Or your WiFi connection keeps going in and out, so that video you planned on showing won’t stop buffering. Fails all around.

Give your people the tech they need to succeed.

Office technology is rapidly evolving, and it’s important to stay on top of it. Not only do the right tools and technologies help you attract the best talent, but it helps them do their jobs better. Videoconferencing, WiFi, smart whiteboards and more promise improved collaboration and productivity, but here’s a tip for you:

It’s how you bring them all together that makes the difference between a workplace that works and one that doesn’t.

View the whole series, Business as Unusual

How do you know what tech works for your office?

Start by talking to your people. Focused employee surveys paired with workplace utilization studies will help you understand your people’s work habits—and current frustrations—so you can tailor an approach that works for them (and, consequently, for you).

For example, when we started our own headquarters redesign, we learned from our people that they wanted more huddle rooms for small, impromptu meetings, and that they wanted them outfitted with tools to collaborate with colleagues both in the office and outside of it. We also learned that people were losing precious time both finding available rooms and getting set up once they were in them. With this insight, we could integrate our new space’s tech with intent.

At the core, you need connectivity.

First and foremost, this means if you’re looking for a new space, be sure the building you select can support your technological needs. Simple things like what floor you’re on or how your space is laid out can affect your internet connection and mobile reception. A basic infrastructure quirk can mean lost signals—and lost productivity.

Another crucial, but often overlooked, key to people-centric office technology is power. As in outlets. Particularly in an office environment that encourages movement and offers multiple work areas, you need to make sure that your people can work in all of those places. They need to be able to plug in and access quality WiFi throughout your entire workplace.

Then comes collaboration.

Office technologies are intended to improve collaboration, right? Right. But the key to collaboration isn’t just making the technology available; it’s also setting it up within your space in the way your people will get the most from it.

After learning how frustrated our employees were with finding not just any room, but the right kind of room for the task at hand, we designed a floorplan with lots of options: phone rooms, small huddle rooms and larger conference rooms. And we made sure the room scheduling software connects with Outlook so people can book a meeting and a room all at once—which hasn’t always been the case.

For impromptu huddles, employees can find unoccupied rooms by looking at a tablet outside each door. It lights up green when the space is available and red when it’s not. And the touchscreen lets you book a room on the fly any time it’s free.

Inside the conference rooms is where the collaborative tech really comes to life. It needs to be easy to use, and should subtly encourage use as well. It’s easy to hop on the phone and have everyone open a document, but then things can get lost in translation. However, when conference room screens are large, inviting and user-friendly (and even include language prompting you to launch your webcam or connect your computer to share your screen), it’s just as easy to make those calls more valuable, productive and powerful with shared audio and visuals.

Additionally, video collaboration software within conference rooms and on people’s computers, phones and tablets eliminates the need to send and receive static documents. Instead, teams can—in real time and across devices—actively contribute to presentations and other assets, whether they’re in the room or on the road. Gone are the days when someone accidentally goes into a meeting with outdated materials or yesterday’s messaging that’s been tweaked.

TL; DR: Office design and the technology implementations shouldn’t be mutually exclusive.

When you listen to your people, study workplace habits and apply the data, you can design your workplace and its technology together. This simple shift in mindset then enables you to seamlessly connect employees across business lines, geographies and generations for one common goal—improving your business.

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About the author


About the author

Michael Cronin, Senior Associate, Digital Content

Partnering with JLL visionaries to deliver premium content for use across various business lines.

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