‘Tech-enabled mobility’ a major driver of productivity with multigenerational workforce

Guest post submitted by Dan Bladen, co-founder and CEO Chargifi

A recent survey published by Chargifi with expert insights from WeWork and other industry leaders, suggests companies are missing an opportunity to increase the productivity of a multigenerational workforce with a workplace design and culture that leverages the latest technology offerings, including smart wireless charging.

Over 2,000 employees were polled about their experience in the workplace around office design, culture, and how mobility affects their workday and productivity.

Industry experts then layered their insights on top of the research. Experts included:

  • Joe Finlayson, Head of Enterprise Technology and Business Development at WeWork
  • Jon Howell, Smart Spaces and Experience Lead EMEA at Aruba
  • Jonathan Parkes, Head of Global Construction and Workplace Strategy at Aptive
  • Own Gregory, COO of London’s leading business members club, The Clubhouse and,
  • Naveed Ahmad, Manager of Information Technology at KOA

Key findings of the survey are:

  • More than half (54%) of employees want to work away from their desk to concentrate on tasks and demand quiet zones to think
  • But only 39% say their office is set-up to allow them to conveniently work away from a specific desk
  • Almost one-in-five (18%) people with their own desk said insufficient technology hinders their productivity
  • Additionally, the youngest employees (18-24-year-olds), most prefer a workplace designed for mobility

Workplace mobility gives employees the freedom – and importantly, the infrastructure – to work from any device across different spaces in the office (and beyond). But first, basic requirements such as convenient access to WiFi and power must be deployed.

To facilitate workplace mobility, the company must address existing connectivity barriers. One of the most important aspects to consider is convenient access to power. Wireless power, the ability to charge a device when it is placed on a wireless charger, instead of carrying plugs, cords and finding spaces near electrical sockets (generally near the floor), throughout the office space will allow employees to take advantage of workplace mobility. Smart wireless power is having wireless charging points connected into other technology, so that you can learn about office space usage and automate tasks for employees. More on this point later.

According to PowWowNow’s annual flexible working study, an overwhelming majority of modern workers today (81 percent) want a job that offers flexible working opportunities.

There are also real benefits for employers who adopt a mobile workplace strategy. When you consider that assigned desks are only occupied 20% to 40% of the time, companies that offer mobile working options can maximize the use of space and reduce the significant cost of maintaining pricey real estate.

Interestingly, the report finds that employee collaboration and sociability, which currently drives workplace design and has led to the widespread implementation of the ‘open’ office space, fails to consider the current expectations and needs of employees seeking quiet zones and private spaces to think and complete assignments.

54 percent of survey respondents say the ability to concentrate and work on tasks in private spaces is the most enjoyable aspect of the workplace. 48 percent say that seeking a quiet place to think was the most enjoyable part of the workday. This feedback seems to go against the ‘modern’ trends of open floor plans.

For employers, an open floor plan initially designed to enhance collaboration among colleagues could actually equate to a loss in productivity. Recent research by Enigma suggests nearly an hour and a half (86 minutes) are lost every day due to multiple disturbances in an open workspace.

The report goes on to uncover some more insights in this area stating that employees are clearly in need of spaces away from the hustle and bustle of their desks situated in open office floor plans, with 39 percent saying their current office environment does not make that possible. Additionally, over 27 percent of workers polled said their workspace is not set up to allow them to work away from their dedicated desk.

Not surprisingly, the study found that the youngest employees (18-24-year-olds), also known as Gen Z, most prefer a workplace that is designed for mobility.  Having grown up in a time of seamless communication on the go, it’s natural for this desire for mobility to extend into the workplace. Offering options such as hotdesking (employees are not assigned a desk, rather they are allowed to use any available desk), shared spaces with social hubs, and private quiet spaces, are much more attractive to Gen Z than conventional office design with assigned workspaces.

That being said, the study finds that less than half of employees surveyed said their current office setup allowed them to work away from their desks. Additionally, nearly 20 percent (18%) of workers agreed the current available technology deployed in the workplace actually hinders their productivity.  If an employee is tied to a dedicated desk, a full 20 percent agree current workplace tech solutions do not meet their needs and expectations for achieving the greatest productivity during the workday.

For employers, smart wireless charging allows companies to make informed decisions about office space utilization and employee mobility. When integrated with workplace management platforms, smart wireless charging can capture real-time data on employee behavior and space availability/usage, giving insights on which meetings rooms are available, for example, and directing employees towards under-utilized facilities.

Also, powered devices mean continuous access to modern workplace tools and apps, such as Slack, Dropbox, Google Drive, allowing employees to work on the go.

When it comes to leveraging technology in workplace design to increase productivity, a very eye-opening stat emerged, nearly half of employees (46%) say it takes them four minutes or longer to setup meeting room technology in order to facilitate meetings in a timely manner, including sharing presentations on screen, finding and plugging in to power outlets and establishing conference calls.

When you consider how many meetings occur for most employees during the average workday, that’s a significant amount of time wasted. In fact, time wasted setting up meeting rooms has cost the US economy somewhere between $70 to nearly $300 billion. Losing 5 percent of the workday due to technical issues equates to 21 minutes of lost productivity per day, 1.75 hours per week, or one full working day per month.

Implementing smart wireless power solutions can introduce efficiencies that reduce time wasted and increase ROI by streamlining tasks. Smart charging spots that connect with other technology could create ‘triggers.’ For example, when an employee enters a conference room and places their phone on charging spot it could automatically trigger various tasks to happen simultaneously such as turning on the lights, showing the meeting room as occupied, and initiating conferencing software to begin. As the employee leaves and removes their phone from the wireless charging spot, the room recognizes the meeting has ended and initiates the closing of the apps, lights, system.

Key takeaways of the survey

Now is a good time to:

  • Audit the status of workplace mobility to uncover new opportunities to engage employees and drive productivity.
  • Design separate and quiet office spaces that will allow employees to find quiet time, as well as open spaces for team collaboration.
  • Find and implement technology solutions that will enable mobility in the workplace, for example, smart wireless charging for convenient access to power on the go.

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