How Can Facilities Managers Future-proof The Workplace?

Dan Bladen, CEO of Wireless Charging Company Chargifi discusses the need for premises and facilities managers to ‘future-proof’ their work spaces.

Some might remember the workplace of twenty years ago: fax machines whirring, franking machines clinking and motorbike couriers talking on intercoms and sprinting away with parcels from reception desks.

Things have changed however, and Millennials are now very clear on what they like the places we work, meet and play to look like in the future.

I’m not talking about playgrounds with slides and table tennis tables, sterile offices or eco-havens, just a space where creative ideas flow, serendipity takes place and stuff gets done. Whether I’ve commuted in and need to jump straight onto a call or am meeting a colleague for a coffee and a chat to agree some slides for a presentation – I need my devices to perform when it matters. You don’t need a low battery warning. It doesn’t matter how powerful your device is, if it doesn’t have power it doesn’t matter

Today, Ofcom figures show 93% of people who own a mobile phone in Q1 2016 with 71% of us owning a smartphone. As a nation, we are obsessed by our (often multiple) devices.

Indeed, there has been explosive growth in the market for wireless power, estimated to be worth $25.6bn by 2020 (Global Market Insights 2016).  

With this in mind, it isn’t surprising that 56% of the 2,000 adults recently surveyed by OnePoll for Chargifi said that wireless charging should be made a free amenity in public areas.  Indeed 19% said the worst time to run out of battery was when travelling abroad, to work or to a meeting. The research highlighted the prevalence of ‘Battery Anxiety’-which, according to One Poll, is reaching epidemic levels, with over (52%) of people suffering from at least one attack in a typical week and almost a quarter (22%) admitting they have between three and ten episodes a week.

So how are facilities and premises managers rising to the challenge of future-proofing the spaces which they manage? How can they keep ahead of the curve and do their jobs better when it comes to engaging younger employees or customers who rely on their devices for everything? 

Devices running out of ‘juice’ when a critical email or call is expected can cause a plethora of health and safety issues when employees hook their phones, laptops and tablets into random plugs – creating a host of trip hazards in the process?

With more office environments embracing hot-desks, wireless power truly enables employees to work in the most agile way possible.

Unsurprisingly, it is facilities managers who work with future leaders such as the Imperial College, London or who are creating futuristic and aspirational office spaces like the Clubhouse who’ve been early adopters of our wireless charging service.

‘Universities are at the forefront of technological advancement, and greater access to technology can result in a more valuable college experience. Whether a university is creating the next wave of technology in its laboratories and research centres, or using it every day in its classrooms, university campuses are proving themselves to be some of the most technologically advanced places in the world’.  With competition for students intensified by Brexit, higher education institutions will need to make their environments as attractive as possible to the brightest brains.

When it comes to starting work, design gurus such as Hilary R Birkbeck from 61-54 Design also see the need to think ahead and power up their employees. She said:  ‘Wireless charging is the new cornerstone in the developing office-scape. This is the final umbilical of current technology to be set free allowing the flexible work space practices to take place. The office or workspace can now move and reconfigure itself to suit individual and group work needs leading to a collective wellbeing’.

But as we will know, once new facilities have been introduced, return on investment must to be measured. Once installed, it is critical to review usage of wireless charging stations and see whether installation spots are being used. We provide employers such as npower with weekly reports on how their staff are using our wireless charging service so they can see how ‘hot desks’ for freelancers or breakout areas are being used which gives critical insight on how a space is being managed.

When I went travelling for six months (before I set up Chargifi) I made choices about the places I visited according to whether I could charge my devices easily or conveniently.  In today’s work and leisure spaces – others will be doing the same.