Technology is advancing so quickly that it is increasingly hard to forecast what role it will play in workplaces

Paul Cook

We are living a digital lifestyle, so our workplaces need to be equipped to meet our ever-increasing demands. Smart and streamlined technology is the key. The right systems and devices will facilitate seamless connectivity for people working in the building, but also help us make sense of a vast array of data to help manage it better. However, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution, nor is there a need to embrace the very latest cutting-edge technology – in fact that is one of the worst things that we can do – as simplification and connectivity is the way forward.

It is essential that the workplace is flexible, and for this to happen, infrastructure including technology needs to be agile and adaptive to unforeseen future possibilities. For an office to be able to evolve with a business, it needs to be a singular functioning system made up of parts carefully selected to create one, big digital ecosystem. That is why it is so important to consider what each occupier needs from the building – you need to avoid simply bolting on the latest technology fad at the end of a project and instead develop an integrated, streamlined solution.

A tailored approach not only helps businesses get the right tools for the job, it also avoids the costly implications of selecting the wrong solution. Better yet, devising a bespoke solution or selecting a piece of technology that encompasses more than one function should be the preference. Breaking away from the siloed system mentality of the past is one of the most fundamental challenges we need to tackle as an industry so we can deliver truly future-proofed, modern workplaces.

You need to avoid simply bolting on the latest technology fad at the end of a project and instead develop an integrated, streamlined solution

So, what are the practical measures that need to be put in place for companies to future-proof their workplaces?

The overarching answer is to create “smart buildings”. This means using a digital ecosystem of hardware and software that is sized and planned for the next generation of every building system that resides within it. By designing and constructing each building around this common platform, companies can guarantee that connectivity is scalable in the long-term.

Another important consideration to stay one step ahead of is the default implementation of building information modelling (BIM). This starts before a spade ever hits the ground in the preconstruction phase. A complete digital representation of a building’s physical and functional characteristics can be created through the implementation of a virtual construction process. In this way, we gain a robust understanding of the practical implications of how the separate systems need to integrate with one another. We then use this insight to select the correct technology response to incorporate into the design from day one.

The next challenge is implementing a sustainable process that can support the client’s vision, while keeping abreast of constantly evolving technological advancements. At ISG, we delegate a master system architect (MSA) as the overall technical owner of all systems and disciplines. That person is responsible for driving the project throughout the design process. By being accountable directly to the client, we can ensure that the correct systems and devices are selected to meet their needs.

Establishing a design committee is also essential, so that the representatives of each discipline can work together seamlessly to deliver exactly what the client needs. Although this is a new approach for building design that doesn’t always exist, it is important to ensure technology is embraced as an affordable enabler from the very beginning.

By driving a technology-first approach on each project and determining the necessary digital ecosystem to future-proof each building, the construction industry can equip itself to deliver modern workplace facilities to not only the current but also the next generation in a time of unprecedented technical advancements.

Paul Cook is head of technology at ISG Technology Solutions