Flex space providers are keen to offer a broad swath of tools, tech and perks that will make their spaces stand out.
But workplaces — including coworking spaces — are leaving something to be desired in terms of the tools employees have access to at individual workspaces, and are often too focused on aesthetics to think carefully about functionality.
Gone are the days when giving an employee a computer, email account and access to Wi-Fi were enough. In today’s world, people expect their employers and workspaces to give them access to tools and technology that improve the workday and help them connect, collaborate and perform.
In a study of 1,000+ U.S. office professionals, we found that, somewhat intuitively, people feel more productive with more tools at their disposal. But strikingly, the consensus is clear among office workers: It’s not just more for more’s sake, but having more complementary tools and technology that make the workday easier and more productive.
The technology and tools provided need to be appropriate for the kind of work people are doing. Unsurprisingly, people who have more tools and technology during the workday tend to be more productive. And people with fewer tools, inversely, tend to be less productive.
But as entrepreneur Aytekin Tank tells entrepreneur.com, “Productivity is a highly personal endeavor. What works for one company or one person might not be right for you … the best tools are those you’ll actually use.”
We’ve pulled together a list of the most critical office tools and tech below:
In today’s workplaces, fast Wi-Fi is non-negotiable. But even more important is having internet access that is reliable and fail-safe, especially in times of peak use. The last thing you want workers experiencing is a slowed-down or interrupted connection.
And, when it comes down to it, nearly all of the important tech tools that follow require quick and faithful bandwidth.
That’s why it’s also important to give people the option to plug in directly. For some people — developers, designers or other creatives who are uploading and downloading massive files — a hefty internet connection and a conveniently placed Ethernet port are basic requirements.
Security is a big thing, too — especially in flex spaces. People need to be sure that their connection is private and their business stays theirs alone. At Hana, we leverage terabit connectivity and isolate traffic with heavy firewalls and user profiles to keep individual members safe and secure.
LCD displays are a staple tool for collaboration, group work and presentations. Having a high-definition screen with ample connectivity ports — think HDMI, VGA and wireless connectivity too — is especially pivotal in meeting and conference rooms.
In our current era of screen-sharing, video conferencing and digital presentations, people need LCD displays that work without having to worry about screen size, connectivity issues or image quality. LCD displays should be standard.
Flawless video conferencing technology is vital for people to collaborate, and it's a must-have at flex and coworking spaces. In our research, we found that 76% of workers in all workspaces find video conferencing technology important, but only 35% have access to it.
Workspace providers need to get this part right — implementing a reliable video conferencing service like WebEx, GoToMeeting or Zoom, makes it possible for people to connect with colleagues around the globe.
Screen-sharing functionality has become a crucial component of remote and virtual work. In our survey, 66% of workers say it’s important, but only 29% have access to this type of software.
This is easy to include in flex spaces, especially in meeting and conference rooms where people should be able to easily share documents with colleagues.
When it comes to choosing screen sharing software, it’s important to pick a solution that’s simple to use and allows for on-screen collaboration. Key services include Zoom and Barco.
Prioritize wireless screen sharing so people can easily port their screen to a display in the front of the room without having to fiddle around for the right wire or dongle.
Basic, non-tech whiteboards are a fairly simple but highly functional resource both for meetings and for individuals who prefer to jot ideas down and brainstorm visually.
While a quality whiteboard (with markers that work) is essential — 74% of workers tell us they are important — only 40% have access to them.
Including whiteboards is low-hanging fruit in a flex space. These should be placed where they are visible to everyone in a group setting, or you can provide a whiteboard on wheels that can be placed where you need it.
Digital interactive whiteboards have also become a popular collaboration tool. These digital screens can be used as a whiteboard, allowing people to wirelessly share screens with colleagues, snap screenshots, write with a digital marker on their work to make notes or share that whiteboard view with remote colleagues who might be calling in.
From website development to database management, so much work takes place on cloud-based services today — whether it’s Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure. And it’s fundamental for flex spaces to help people effectively use these services.
Offering easy connectivity to these services is one thing to get right. But even more, it’s about affording each member the network bandwidth to fully leverage these services — and to make sure your connectivity is strong enough to support it.
We’ve all experienced it: That dire scramble to locate a USB charging outlet or power outlet before our phone or computer dies. And as we all know, these aren’t always readily accessible.
But considering that people are mobile-first now, and given the mobile nature of work today, they need to be.
Flex space providers should think through how these can be incorporated everywhere — in desks, on meeting room tables and in close proximity to lounge space. Tastefully designed outlet stands can add needed functionality to lounge areas without sacrificing aesthetics.
At Hana, every desk has readily available power and USB outlets, many tables are equipped with task lamps with outlets and meeting room tables are powered. We also offer easy-to-reach outlets near couches in our lounge areas.
Whether in a meeting room, a coworking space or a flexible private office, it’s good to think of the desk as one of the most important tools you can give someone.
This is where all the work happens, and where someone spends most of their day. That’s why investing in ergonomic desks is so important. 79% of respondents to our survey say that ergonomic furniture is important to them, yet only 34% have access to it.
Dr. Alan Hedge, an expert on workplace design and ergonomics at Cornell University, tells us “what employees are sitting on, what desks they have, how much they’re sitting or standing or moving — these things directly impact someone’s wellbeing and they directly impact the bottom line for companies.”
At Hana, we use height-adjustable desks from Herman Miller that give people the ability to change their desk height to match their posture and preferred position.
Whether it's B&W or color printing, printing is an essential workplace component that is critical to get right. Having a clunky process, outdated equipment or low-resolution printouts are sure ways to frustrate workers.
That’s why printers are often one of the biggest pain points in an office. In flex spaces, it’s important to make sure every printer is easy to connect to, well supplied with paper and ink and seamless to use.
In any flexible workspace, meeting and conference rooms are one of the most in-demand spaces for private group sessions and get-togethers.
Colin Duff from Owl Labs says, “With room scheduling software, you'll eliminate two big problems: room hoarding and wasted meetings.”
Making sure people can easily book these rooms on the web, a mobile device or a mobile app is important to making sure the workplace experience is seamless. In traditional offices, room booking apps include Skedda, Robin, Office RnD — just to name just a few. Among flexible workspace providers, members can often use proprietary mobile apps to reserve meeting spaces.
Workers expect easy access when using a flexible workspace. Plenty of flexible workspace providers offer 24/7 office access to members — and making that a simple thing to use is key.
From keycards to fobs to mobile apps that leverage Bluetooth, there are a variety of secure ways to give people easy building access.
Bad workplace acoustics are one of the most common complaints in offices today — our survey found that “quiet spaces” are one the most in-demand workplace perks.
This problem is particularly bad in coworking spaces where open office layouts and industrial design compound noise pollution.
And even though there are easy solutions that most people want, like providing barriers that block noise, only 16% have access to them.
Creating dedicated quiet spaces and dedicated social spaces, incorporating acoustic baffling and sound absorbing materials and adding more noise to the mix with sound masking technology are all ways to help mitigate noisy environments and help people focus.
Today’s workplaces require a suite of tools that support productivity, and workers will flock to the flex spaces that get it right.
The more right tools that people have access to, the more productive they are. That’s why it’s important for flexible workspace operators to give as much careful thought to the tech you provide in your spaces as you do to how Instagrammable the layout is.
Looking for a better place to work? Explore the workspaces and amenities 1,000+ office workers value most in our white paper, Forget Foosball: People Want a Better Place to Work, Not Play.
As the Content Strategist at Hana, my job involves digging deep into the present and future of flexible workspaces and coworking. When I'm not working my way through industry trends, you can find me working my way through a book or looking for the perfect taco stand in Austin, Texas.
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