Put back the ping-pong table. Internet with a quality connection is the number one amenity that office users are demanding today.
Put back the ping-pong table and the yoga mats. Internet with a quality connection is a top priority for office users today, second only to location. Not only is it the number one concern of office users signing new leases, it can ultimately determine lease renewals as well. According to research from Wired Score, which analyzed the value of connectivity, 77% of tenants would sign a longer lease in a building with quality connectivity. Internet has become so important to office users because so many companies experience connection issues. According to the same report, 80% of office users experience connectivity in the office and 77% of office users say that connection issues impact the company business. We sat down with Arie Barendrecht, CEO of Wired Score, to talk about the importance of quality Internet today and what office owners should be doing to ensure quality Internet.
GlobeSt.com: Why has a digital infrastructure become so important to the value of an office asset, and how does it impact office leasing?
Arie Barendrecht: For decades, office leasing decisions were driven by C-Suite decision-makers with preferences that favored features like executive boardrooms and flashy corner offices. That top-down mentality has been largely abandoned and the industry has seen a shift towards creating experiential offices that serve as a tool to attract and retain talent across the organization. This is reflected in the rise of new community amenities like green spaces, collaborative and flexible configurations, and a pivot towards providing optionality for different working preference, which in turn fuels productivity.
Excellent digital connectivity is required to support this fluid, flexible way of working. Tenants want seamless WiFi so they can work from the roof deck or green space you’ve developed, reliable mobile coverage so that they never drop an important call, and in-building IoT devices, connected to apps like Comfy, that can adjust the environment within a building for maximum comfort. All of these features you’re seeing in a leasing brochure rely on a foundation of resilient digital infrastructure.
Given that great connectivity is a prerequisite that supports the experiences tenants are looking for, it is impacting office leasing. A survey of office leasing decision makers we conducted last year, The Value of Connectivity, reported that 91% of leasing decision makers say that lack of reliable connectivity would impact their leasing decision. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense: would you sign a 5-10 year lease if you didn’t have confidence that your business would be successful there?
GlobeSt.com: How does poor connectivity impact productivity in an office?
Barendrecht: Today, we expect to be connected wherever we go, at home, during our commutes, and at the office; we can even access the Internet in-flight. Losing connectivity is frustrating in any of those situations, but it is critically important in an office setting where connectivity is directly tied to productivity and, ultimately, profitability.
There’s an incredible demand for bandwidth in an office setting. Consider the day-to-day activities that depend on having reliable access to the internet: you need to answer emails in real time, video conference with contacts across the country, and collaborate on documents hosted on the cloud like Google Pages. When the Internet fails, productivity halts and employees report increased stress, frustration, and distraction as a result.
It’s a dramatic example, but a neuroscience study measuring user reactions to poor network performance found that website delays resulted in a heart rate increase comparable to the spike you might experience when watching a horror movie. Environments that are regularly triggering stress or frustration are not healthy or conducive to productivity.
GlobeSt.com: What should building owners do to create quality digital infrastructures in an office building that is flexible for future technology advances?
Barendrecht: The first step is for owners and developers to understand that connectivity is just as important as electricity, HVAC, and other utilities. It is the responsibility of the owner, not the tenant, to provide access to these crucial utilities and build out the necessary infrastructure to support that service. That proactive mentality ensures your organization will be able to adapt to whatever innovations impact the office sector next.
Every building is different, but ensuring you are looking to the future and the patterns of the industry is important. People are more connected than ever, so planning for more telecom room space, more fiber, more mobile coverage is crucial. The WiredScore team can provide the exact technical recommendations and strategic improvements that should be made to future-proof any asset.
GlobeSt.com: What is a Wired Score and Wired Certification, and why is it becoming an important benchmark in office leasing?
Barendrecht: WiredScore is the operator of Wired Certification, the international rating system for connectivity in commercial office buildings. We make it easy for tenants to select office space that meetings their critical technology needs, while allowing owners and developers to better understand, improve, and promote the connectivity in their buildings.
Across Southern California, adoption of Wired Certification is steadily increasing. In Los Angeles, Brookfield Properties has achieved Wired Certification for the majority of their portfolio, including The Gas Company Tower, Bank of America Plaza, Wells Fargo Center, and 777 Tower downtown. EQ Office is another leading adopter of Wired Certification in the US, certifying the Howard Hughes Center on the Westside. In San Diego, The Park and First Allied Plaza are some of the first office properties to achieve Wired Certification. These are prime examples of CRE leaders that have integrated connectivity into their tenant-focused strategies.
By: Kelsi Maree Borland (GlobeSt)
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