What’s better for the company? Smart people or a smart office? One study shows you’d be hard pressed to get one without the other. Technology-obsessed millennials are shaping the modern workplace with their preferences for smart office equipment, and they do not compromise.
These are the findings of the Future Workforce Study, a research survey by funded by Dell and Intel. Some key points:
- 80% of millennials cited workplace tech as a deciding factor for taking a job.
- If workplace technology isn’t up to their standard, 42% would be willing to leave the company.
- More than 50% of the 4,000 employees polled (millennial and otherwise) expect to work in a smart office within five years.
Sure, likely findings for a study funded by tech vendors. It isn’t much of a revelation that technology is important for the younger age groups in the workforce. “The workplace is reaching a tipping point,” says Dell VP Allison Dew. “Employees are hungry to use the latest advancements to be more productive.”
What makes a smart office smart?
More mainstream smart office expectations are real-time collaboration with remote co-workers and clients, and accommodating the work from anywhere mentality popular with the younger generation.
- Collaboration: Videoconferencing and screen sharing technology will make face-to-face communication a thing of the past, like cigarettes in the conference room. The report shows 60% of millennials believe face to face meetings will be obsolete in five years.
- Working remotely is extremely important for a user set that, according to the survey, spends more than half of its working hours outside of the office.
Getting your network ready for the smart office
Network demands for videoconferencing—also called video over IP—can be a showstopper without a business grade network setup. The amount of bandwidth you need depends on several things: desired resolution and framerate, the number of employees participating, and the videoconferencing applications in use.
Network needs vary from office to office. Start by documenting your network specifics.
- Available bandwidth from ISP plan
- Number of users involved in videoconferencing
- Frequency of videoconferencing
- Apps and endpoints in use
Network management items to note
- Your total amount of bandwidth is largely determined by your ISP. A high speed modem will not add bandwidth over what your ISP provides, but it can bottleneck connectivity if mismatched or underpowered.
- The endpoints used for video conferencing and collaboration factor in to your setup—how do they connect to the network? Are they tablets on a Wi-Fi network? Desktop PCs with USB web cams and microphones on the wired LAN? Perhaps all-in-one video conferencing workstations?
- LAN bandwidth allocation is important for videoconferencing quality of service. A managed switch with VLAN support (also called IEEE 802.1Q) have apps that prioritize bandwidth specifically for videoconferencing. These are also useful for conducting network analyses and optimizations.
- Remote workers should be accessing the company network using a VPN. For a more in depth look about getting started virtual networks, read Guide: Tools for Setting Up a VPN.
What are the biggest frustration points?
Talented and tech savvy employees set a high bar for quality of service. They do not care about the challenges of managing dozens of endpoints, servers, and security. They just want technology that works so they can maximize productivity.
According to the survey, tech-related administrative tasks, and slow, glitchy software and devices account for nearly half of the biggest pain points for office workers. A third of respondents say they have better technology at home than at the office.
If you plan to issue company laptops to employees that work remotely, read more: Laptop Management Checklist for Remote Workers [Infographic]
Companies that fail to keep up to date with quality tech will have a hard time attracting and retaining talent. It takes more than buying pretty tablets and smartphones. Office network infrastructure is real driver for user experience at the workplace. Smart people want smart office technology; business owners and HR executives dare not overlook this.
Updated February 1, 2018. Originally published June 2016.