(Photo: Gensler’s Raleigh, NC Office)

Hot-desking and open office layouts are increasingly becoming the norm for organizations that can support it. The real estate savings of these policies and layouts can’t be denied. Additionally, cloud storage and mobile applications make work-from-home flexibility easier for more and more organizations.

But giving employees the ability to work offsite, or in more flexible environments is only half the battle. New design has resulted in unique layouts within the office but many are still missing infrastructure to support the heart of mobility itself. Smartphones have made mobile work possible. But what is supporting smartphone productivity?

Mobility at Work

With a smartphone, employees are always in touch with the office, with the ability to text, Slack, email or message team members on a variety of other platforms. Mobile use increases productivity outside the office as well. Employees will often Uber from meeting to meeting and can use their phone to order and pre-pay for a coffee as they head to their next meeting.

The work-life balance benefits are substantial too. Smartphones have provided employees the ultimate access to all things, work, and play in one location. Employees can be at work while constantly staying connected to friends and family.

However, an effective charging infrastructure is required to enable these productivity and mobility gains throughout the day.

Infrastructure is Outdated

When it comes to built-in charging support for these devices at a desk, an employee is lucky to receive one dedicated outlet or USB socket. Yet the clunky landline (it’s use limited especially when hot-desking) takes up at least a square foot of valuable desk real estate. We’ve seen companies undergo paperless systems to reduce filing space, only to continue with landline phones from individual desks. It’s an outdated system and there hasn’t been a shift in power support for mobile tech despite the rapid changes in smartphone technology.

This slow adoption of a wirelessly powered backbone for smartphones within the office is something that is hindering employees mobility and productivity. Considering how important mobile phones are, it’s still amazing to see the lack of consideration of power in workspaces.

Catching Up

Google Waterloo's Phase 1 workspace uses wireless charging throughout the building to support employees (Photo: ARIDO)

Google Waterloo’s Phase 1 office uses wireless charging throughout the building to support mobility (Photo: ARIDO)

Billion dollar companies from Uber to Snapchat focus on a mobile only platform, yet within the office smartphones are still an afterthought. Employees need to scramble under a desk to find an available outlet to juice up their phone.

What’s worse is that with the level of mobility employees experience, they may not even be at that desk until the end of the day, yet alone a few hours. While wireless charging has proliferated top organizations like Google and McKinsey to even Starbucks – it is still an overlooked necessity within many office spaces.

However it’s often a cost effective way to enable the full productivity dreamed up from mobile work arrangements.

Consider the average day for a Marketing Manager

9:00 am: Grabs a cup of coffee as she enters work and catches up with coworkers.

9:05 am: Scans social media mentions and relevant posts on phone while walking to her workstation

10:00 am: Settles into a workstation and answers emails and review presentation for later in day.

10:30 am: Pops into her boss’s office for a quick face-to-face. On the way back, she bumps into a colleague and has a quick exchange.

11:00 am: Uber to a client meeting, while answering more emails on the ride over

12:00 pm: On the way back, follows up with client on how the presentation went over and notes follow up items.

12:30 pm: Team catered lunch at the cafeteria – the sushi is a perfect picture and she snags an Instagram

1:00 pm: At lunch, catches up with project team and get a status report of next month’s deliverables.

4:00 pm: Meeting with the New Product team in War Room

6:00 pm: End of day meeting in the common area for team scrum.

7:30 pm: Message friends to meet up for an after work drink

Battery Drain

In one day alone a worker can use 3 or more different work spaces as described above. For mobile employees, phone usage throughout the day and the drain on a battery is substantial. Further, the industry average battery life of smartphones is lower than it was in 2014. This is despite increasing reliance on these devices for work.

While usage of smartphones and their processing power has increased, battery improvements have been nominal

While usage of smartphones and their processing power has increased, battery improvements have been nominal (Image: PhoneArena)

From personal use like Instagram-ing a lunch photo, to maximizing time by answering emails or following up with a client on the go, smartphones take a beating on battery life. The last thing a mobile employee wants to do is bring a cord around with them. Even worse is having to juice up a phone from a wall outlet, where notifications are missed, during a meeting,

Seamless Support

We’ve seen most of the difficult leg work already done in terms of design and changing employee behavior around mobility. Offices themselves provide a variety of work settings to allow employees to move freely both inside and out of the office. But a seamless support infrastructure incorporated in design is still missing. Wireless charging is an easy solution that can be added retroactively to spaces. It’s part of giving employees true choice in the workplace.

A strong wireless charging infrastructure allows employees to work from anywhere in the office: collaborative areas, private workstations and even café’s throughout the space. It also means that employees have the extra charge they need to stay productive while moving in and out of the office. In a workplace where the smartphones is king, design must look at not only providing mobility, but how to power it.