With the unified communications sector predicted to be worth more than £52 billion by 2020, SMEs and start-ups in this field look set to increase. But what will their offices look like? The ideal solution will involve multi-occupancy incubator spaces that enable complementary companies to work side by side in a single creative environment and collaborate formally and informally, inspiring innovation.
This approach will also offer greater flexibility and scope for growth, preventing companies from being stifled by long leases.
Indeed, this trend is already in evidence in the current office market, with office brokerage company, Instant Offices, increasing its turnover from £30 million to £75 million within just five years, for example.
Collaboration is central to the cultural shift in the way offices are perceived: no longer are they simply places that provide a workstation; now they answer demand for flexible working in a creative space where different disciplines can work together.
The most successful unified comms & collaboration (UC&C) strategies don’t just consider the jobs people do but also examine the way they work. In this way, office designers can create spaces that support productivity, collaboration and innovation, using break out spaces, auditoriums and event rooms to enable employees to work together and inspire ideas.
But not all tasks require collaboration and, with growth set to continue, the unified comms sector needs to help companies attract and retain the best talent. This means changing the work environment to reflect the ways that people prefer to work: providing employees with the flexibility to carry out day-to-day tasks remotely when they do not require face to face contact with customers or collaboration with colleagues is central to this.
This agile working approach can only be achieved if office design incorporates the tech tools that employees need to access data and systems remotely. Critically, remote access to office-based data and systems must also be reliable consistent and high speed if it is to be viable for both employee and employer.
With expert interior design that combines creative spaces with a technology-enabled approach, many unifed comms-based businesses are increasingly open to an office concept that centres around active collaboration and project specific interaction, while the lion’s share of routine activities are conducted remotely via the cloud.
Ardell Bunt is a director at Realys - the global design-led consultancy.