Wireless connectivity in most commercial buildings exists today in the form of Wi-Fi, but the same cannot be said for cellular coverage. In fact, only about two percent of commercial real estate buildings are equipped with a dedicated indoor wireless system that provides cellular coverage. With mobile traffic doubling every 18 months, and nearly 80 percent of all mobile sessions occurring indoors, the outdoor cellular network simply can’t keep up with in-building demand.

For a commercial building today to be properly described as fully functional, developers have to incorporate a wireless network into their design from the start. If not, they’ll eventually have to get those blueprints out and begin retrofitting to stay competitive in a competitive commercial market.

It’s time to consider wireless as the next utility just like electricity, gas and water. Planning ahead for mobile broadband support indoors is no longer nice to have but a must have. In order to do this right, building developers and owners need to look at how the modern employee works. The modern office has evolved right along with the technologies that support it.

Upwardly Mobile

Mobile technology enables an astonishing degree of flexibility in working arrangements. The “office” now competes with the home, the coffee shop or even the park as a place of business. All a modern worker really needs is mobile connectivity to get online and get working. The option of flexible working is usually taken up enthusiastically wherever it’s offered in the UK. The Centre for Economics and Business Research predicts that expanding the scheme to everyone who wanted it could potentially add an extra £11.5bn per year to the UK economy—a good motivator for adoption in anyone’s eyes.

It’s all mine

More and more, we see companies allowing employees to bring their own devices to work and use them to access the corporate network, often referred to as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies. The research firm Ovum found that nearly 70 per cent of employees who own a smartphone or tablet use it to access company data. Of these, we can safely assume there will be a substantial amount of multiple-device users.

To many IT managers, this creates not only security and access concerns, but also reinforces the need to provide ubiquitous wireless connectivity throughout the office, as these devices typically connect wirelessly.

Awkwardly for advocates of BYOD in the enterprise, only about two per cent of the approximately 30 billion square meters of commercial real estate worldwide today has an indoor wireless system for cellular. In fact, research has shown that more than three in four employees reported that they had to leave their desk or go outside to find sufficient wireless reception. The need for reliable, secure indoor cellular coverage is clearly there.

Keeping up appearances

All those mobile devices are basically useless without the apps and services that make them so useful. With the advancement of smartphone and tablet technology, top-tier handsets have evolved from a phone and text machine into something more akin to an enterprise grade laptop. Handsets run network-thirsty apps that do the same as PCs or laptops, making them truly mobile. This trend for data-heavy apps is only set to grow if the signals from the developer sector ring true. Gartner predicts that by the end of 2015, mobile app projects will outnumber native PC projects by four to one.

All this points to an inescapable conclusion. The office environment has to be mobile friendly for demand today and into the future. Connectivity should be hardwired into building plans from the start of any new build or fit-out.

Future proof your office space

To implement wireless connectivity from day one, you should consider a number of factors:

· Understand the architecture – Building angles, materials and placement of wireless access points will all impact the efficacy of the in-building wireless system. The low emissivity window tinting used in modern green buildings, for example, will block not only heat and light, but also wireless signals.

· Complements will get you everywhere – An IBW system will use many individual components. To future proof your install, buy hardware designed to be updatable and optimised for inter-vendor compatibility. This prevents expensive wholesale change-outs of your system if it’s ever needed.

· Build in security –Office spaces that provide Wi-Fi, cellular and traditional fixed IP access need an overarching strategy for data integrity and security. In-building wireless systems that transport RF without adding new security concerns are ideal.

· Use it right – Once you have this intelligent network installation in your property, you will have access to a huge range of building information management services. Low power sensor devices that share the same physical POE ( power over Ethernet) infrastructure as the in building wireless system are a cost effective way of collecting data about the building’s use and, when connected to a good analytics platform, will help you and your tenants optimise resources at an unprecedented level.

· Think Total Cost of Ownership – A good installation is not the plumbing of dumb pipes. It is the installation of an ecosystem that will evolve and secure the marketability of a building for years to come. Employee demands for flexibility, BYOD and enterprise grade apps on mobile devices are not trends that are showing any sign of slowing down. Now is the time to get a headstart on the future.