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Network, Unified Communications May 12, 2023

Digital workplaces are only as good as the network infrastructure that underpins them

By Rehana Smith Senior Manager, Edge Solutions

In the new digital workplace, many organisations see cloud applications and services as the key to transforming and improving their operations, but what’s often neglected, is the importance of the network and infrastructure that underpins these technologies.

A lack of network capacity, reliable connectivity and high-quality performance will hold back organisations’ forward-thinking plans for adopting new digital workplace strategies.

Poor connectivity is slowing down productivity

Over the last few years, many workers have become accustomed to working at home on at least a semi-regular basis. That’s carried with it concerns over employee efficiency, including whether they have the right technology to work effectively. However, in our latest research, a third of executives actually report having better connectivity at home than at the office. With many employers now promoting a return to the office, the conversation has to be reframed. How do employers make sure their workplaces are providing employees with the quality of technology they need to find returning to work valuable?

With one in three organisations wanting their workforce in the office five days a week, attempts to entice employees back to the office could be completely undermined if they are slowed down by poor connectivity. Additional ‘return to work’ enticements such as free food and drinks, free parking, and wellness classes are not as important as being able to work flexibly or having the right tools to be productive.

New technologies are helping to improve the situation, with platforms like Webex introducing cutting-edge AI to enhance poor quality video. This means high-definition video is now possible even when the network isn’t up to scratch. However, this doesn’t mean organisations can stop worrying about their network altogether, the demands continue to increase as they begin to use more devices in a wider variety of locations.

It’s not only important to consider how good the connectivity is, but also where it extends to. Office spaces have evolved, and employees expect to be able to work from the canteen, coffee areas, break out spaces and more. This means organisations need to take a fresh look at their wi-fi capacity and design, so employees can continue to have a high quality experience when away from their desks.

To succeed in a hybrid world, organisations are going to need to reconsider their office connectivity to achieve effective hybrid working. The good news is, 60% of organisations intend to prioritise improving internal workplace wi-fi in the next two years.

Increasing bandwidth for high-quality video calls is essential 

As we become more sophisticated users of collaboration tools –such as Webex, the importance of high-quality video is only going to grow. Currently, two in three executives are taking part in video calls at least once a day and 85% of us are spending more time on video calls than we were in 2020.

This increase in video calling needs a lot more bandwidth than many offices were originally set up to support, leading to 74% of IT executives looking at how they can update networks to deal with the increased demands of video conferencing and HD video.

Greater visibility and control is required for optimal collaboration

Both employee and business leaders’ expectations of collaboration experiences are now higher than ever before. Today, an increasing number of organisations want to be able to support the very latest collaboration tools.

To satisfy these growing expectations, organisations will need greater visibility and control over their traffic to monitor and optimise experience. Solutions like Meraki now provide real-time dashboards, so organisations can stay in control of their network at all times. They’ll also want the flexibility and scalability to increase capacity or prioritise certain applications as they adopt new functions or expand their collaboration portfolios.

Crucially, our research found that high-quality collaboration is now seen as a success driver - 76% of respondents drew strong correlations between IT investment, effective collaboration, and their organisation’s achievements.

First-steps to a better network

Audit and assess

A key step towards building your future workplace strategy is assessing your network technology’s ability to support the needs of your entire workforce - whether they’re in the office, on the move or at home. This will highlight where new investments will make the most difference to your network capabilities.

Think about the bigger picture

Deploying new wireless coverage is complicated and it’s important not to take a siloed approach. Think about it from a three-dimensional point of view, and the impact it might have on floors above and below. This can be a particular challenge for organisations in shared office buildings, where new systems may cause interference with coverage of companies on other floors.

Get started today

We’re experts at providing reliable network infrastructure, having delivered services to customers in over 180 countries for many years. From design through to user adoption, we can help you build the network and infrastructure that will bring your digital workplace strategy to life. Then, we’ll work with you to audit your collaboration and network technology to identify the best approach to support your employees’ evolving needs.

Read more about how to build a successful hybrid workplace in our latest research or find out more about our range of digital workplace solutions here.