Time for change in the world of office

Imagine that you’re arriving at an office. At the gate, you mention your name and your appointment. You enter the parking garage and find yourself a spot. Once at the door, you mention your name again. Once at the reception, you again have to tell the same story to the receptionist and even have to identify yourself. Your appointment gets a call that you have arrived. You wait until they are downstairs. You get a coffee and walk to the meeting room to discuss what you are really here for – only to find out the place is already occupied…More than ten minutes have passed and you still haven’t started your actual meeting. .

Situations like these are the everyday reality of the typical multi-tenant office. Funny enough, everyone seems to accept it. Even though there is no need to. By integrating separate IT-systems, problems like these can be solved. However, this does need to be taken into account in the development of your building already. This is where The Flow Technologies can help.

What’s the issue?

With a background in as well IT as real estate development, I look at the real estate sector with rather some astonishment. In real estate development, we let an enormous amount of opportunities go by for the simple reason that we do not account for the users and the roles they take on in the office. If I were to ask employees what they’d rather have in their office: four hours without water or four hours without wifi, the answer would be simple. Without wifi, no work can be done. Nevertheless, all casco offices are completed without a proper ‘redundant’ fiber network as the basis of the IT-infrastructure. This is rather odd.  Or take all the data that can be assembled on the use and the occupation rate of the building. Those data are hardly used to improve user experience. Evidently, IT is an overlooked issue in real estate. The consequence? A lack of efficiency, service and experience.

The solution?

This can be done differently- namely by envisioning the users of an office and their different roles they play already in its development or revitalization phase. With this vision in our minds, we should then lay out a proper basic IT-infrastructure for these users. In the development phase, we already think about the Electrical engineering and Warmth (E & W) installations of the building. What if we now add ‘two I’s’, IT and Integration of Systems, to this equation:


In other words, this equation shows us everything in favor of the user. Not only the costs associated with them, but also the revenue they bring about. When it comes to office real estate, we can – theoretically speaking – distinct users by four different categories, based on their needs to function properly.

First, there is the end user – the employer and employee working in the office and their guests. These users are mainly interested in a pleasant experience, i.e. an intuitive use of the systems they need to perform their jobs.

Secondly, the facility manager. They wish to gain insights into the data that flows from all systems in order to manage the building as good as possible.

Thirdly, we have the IT-officer of the tenant. They seek to roll out their own network onto existing connectivity, whilst taking their own security measures. This requires a redundant fiber network in the office; a stable Wifi-network in the building.

Last but not least, there are the guests, the clients of the tenant. The office needs to have an air of hospitality – guests need to feel welcome in the office.

Integrated IT can be useful to all these roles. My point – take these different roles already into account in the development or revitalization phase of the building, and take care of integrating all the systems.

The result?

You might wonder, what do we gain from this? Think about a visit to a multi-tenant office where all users are literally and figuratively left to their own IT-devices. Think about the frustration this evokes. By integrating the systems necessary for access, identification, security, hospitality, catering and roombooking into the IT-workplace of the user (e.g. Office365), you ensure users can walk through this process smoothly. Once you’re at the gates, everything runs smoothly. More so, a system that is only just slightly clever knows its users’ wishes. When you walk in at three, the system knows you’d like an espresso. Such details make you feel welcome.

The Flow

With the development of The Flow in the Amsterdam Houthavens, we have brought this concept to practice. The first price winning Flow is our proof of concept. The several roles the users take, are at the front instead of the back of our office. This is what we call usercentric development, a standard norm in the world of IT. We have started developing the building from inside out and integrated the (28!) systems entirely with the  desk of the user. This ensures better management and happier users. After having established our proof of concept, we started extending this concept with our partners. And guess what? Without any premeditation, we have ticked all the boxes of life throughout and after the COVID-19 crisis.

A proper IT-infrastructure and integrated systems is the key to working safely and efficiently from home.

My name is Marco Vrijburg and I am the Commercial Lead @The Flow Technologies, the first Managed Smart Building Service Provider. We Design, Integrate and Operate Smart Building Services

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