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Thoughts and News

Our company is expanding!

Our company is currently looking to expand the following teams and we're looking for:

IT Infrastructure Consultant
AV Consultant
AV Designer

If your profile meets the criteria please email your CV to jobs@blend.co.uk

Please click here to view the IT Consultant job description.

Please click here to view the AV Consultant job description.

Please click here to view the AV Designer job description.

Dynamic Workplace Location Tracking

With the advent and adoption of activity based working (ABW) in offices and the desire to achieve higher desking ratios for occupancy efficiency, the need to track staff within an office environment has grown. In the past, ‘one man one desk’ occupancy ensured that anyone’s whereabouts were physically obvious – they were either at their desk, in the office with evidence of desk occupancy or simply not in the office. This made staff tracking straightforward for line managers, FM and HR.

In an ABW environment, staff can potentially sit at any desk or at least anywhere in a neighbourhood or base camp within the office. They may also work in a touchdown area, focus booth, collaborative space, restaurant etc. So in theory, apart from the record of them accessing the building, there is no information on their whereabouts within the office.

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Is this a problem?

Not necessarily. In small to medium size office environments, particularly where occupancy is on one floor or a few small floors, the close proximity of available work spaces makes visual tracking sufficient. However, in large offices with multiple floors and large floor plates, visual staff tracking is not an option, so other means have to be employed, and this is important for one main reason; Corporate Real Estate planning.

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Without accurate information on usage and occupancy levels in all spaces within the office, the Corporate Real Estate Department and FM have effectively lost control of occupancy levels and cannot plan the space going forward. This is particularly acute in rapidly growing or acquisitive organisations who require fast decision making on space requirements. Losing control of occupancy also has implications for staff; locating colleagues can be frustrating and time consuming, leading to non-collaborative working and inefficiency. Recently this has been overcome with data collection and analysis from a number of systems that provides a level of occupancy information. These systems include Access Control, Room/Desk Booking, network connection, WiFi positioning and MS Active Directory login. There are several systems that collect data from these sources and provide a level of occupancy and desk usage, however these are relatively crude and are mainly geared for FM, not staff.

Now, advancing technology has born a new breed of infrastructure and systems which can not only provide occupancy information for FM, but provide the platform for development of Applications which can deliver elegant, real-time information for all staff. The underlying infrastructure is Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). BLE, or Bluetooth Smart to give it its marketed name, is similar to classic Bluetooth but with one noticeable difference; BLE has a considerably longer battery life, typically devices can function for 1–2 years with a 1,000mAh coin cell battery. So an office can be populated with wide coverage of proximity beacons providing connectivity for Smart Phones. When coupled with the iBeacon standard, BLE enabled proximity beacons can deliver pinpoint accurate occupancy information without the need for triangulation of numerous systems and complex data manipulation. BLE has been utilised in Retail environments for some time now on a small scale however we are seeing this technology being applied to the Workplace and Blend have worked on ground breaking projects that have incorporated these technologies and are certain this will become common place in the future. Similar location aware services can also now be achieved using Wifi (e.g. Cisco CMS / CMX etc.).

If you would like to understand more about the capabilities of BLE, iBeacon and WiFi location services, please get in touch.

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Workplace Consulting and the need for IT/AV input

Peter Davis, our Projects Director explores the IT/AV challenges and opportunities in today's workplace.

According to Wikipedia, Workplace Consulting or Strategy, is ‘the dynamic alignment of an organization’s work patterns with the work environment to enable peak performance and reduce costs’.

Undertaken by Architects, Interior Designers or Workplace Consultants, this is a specialist and technical discipline which delivers a vision and capability for new ways of working and improved occupancy. The focus is primarily on the space and behavioural aspects of an organisation to meet a variety of business objectives and the process is often undertaken in isolation, without input from other disciplines.

This short article argues the case for the inclusion of IT/AV consultancy input to the process to mirror and support the workplace strategy with technology enablement of space and people

Technology advancement, particularly mobile technology, has had a profound effect on the way organisations do business, both internally and externally. People are now free from the constraints of ‘their desk’ and can be just as productive anywhere; in the office, home or on the move. In the office environment this has driven a need for all spaces to be supportive of productivity – from the desk to the meeting room to collaborative areas - so much so that it could be argued that technology adoption has actually provided the blueprint for modern workplace strategy.

Generally workplace strategies are underpinned by two key tenets, namely agility of the workplace and mobility of people within that space. Looking at these in more detail we can explore the direct correlation between these workplace drivers and technology.

Agile spaces; free-seating, breakout spaces, hub areas, focus booths, meeting rooms, collaborative areas etc. require technologies that provide an enhanced experience for staff, at least as good, if not better, than that enjoyed at the desk. To make these spaces agile requires comprehensive coverage of easy to use, integrated technology such as screens in meeting rooms for presentation, audio and video conferencing for communications, unified communications platforms and power/data outlets. The vision for building agility can therefore only come to life when explored in partnership with technology.

workplace consulting

Technology mobility for staff is a given in today’s workplace; few people don’t have a mobile phone, tablet or laptop, either provided or their own and they expect to be able to access corporate applications and services throughout the building. So staff need a variety of technologies to enable this; secure, ubiquitous, multi-access WiFi for corporate network and internet connectivity, wireless screen presentation, way finding and digital signage etc. During workplace strategising it is vital that these technologies for staff mobility are understood, explored and considered as part of the process.

Most organisations now employ staff of all ages, from baby boomers to Generation Y and will soon include Generation Z. They all have differing technology aspirations and use capability, from tech savvy graduates to pen and paper addicts. Understanding these variances and interpreting the requirements into the workplace is key to success. This further re-enforces the need for qualified consultants to work alongside Workplace Consultants.

As the workplace becomes more diversified, so the need for occupancy monitoring and capacity planning becomes increasingly important. Additionally, an agile workplace with mobile workers requires a measure of smart building technology to ensure that comfort and efficiency of the space can be automated. There is now a direct correlation between new ways of working and the need for building intelligence and so should be developed in parallel with the workplace strategy.

In summary, to be comprehensive, holistic and delivering the right solution, Workplace Consulting requires technology consultancy input to be a seamless part of the process. Only then can an organisation be fully advised on suitable solutions to its space and working practices requirements.

workplace environment

Blend Technology Consultants have supported Workplace Consultants on numerous assignments, strategising and interpreting the technology requirements throughout the process.

For more information please contact us or speak to one of the Blend team.

Blends New Projects Director

Peter Davis

We’re delighted to introduce Peter Davis, our new Projects Director. Peter has over 20 years’ experience in Built Environment Consultancy. He’s been instrumental in leading multi-disciplined teams on complex high-worth projects, advising at board level and demonstrating a deep commitment to delivering the best possible outcomes.

Peter: "This is a great opportunity to be part of a leading consultancy practice and join the management team to take the company forward”

Peter Davis

Completing the journey with VWFS

Milton Keynes

We’ve recently completed an IT and AV consultancy project for Volkswagen Financial Services' new UK Head Office in Milton Keynes – a site with over 700 people across four floors.

This covered everything from structured cabling systems and high-end collaboration facilities through to video conferencing and meeting rooms with video streaming capabilities, plus an automated booking system for rooms and resources.

VWFS Boardroom VWFS Space VWFS Office

Continuing acquaintances with Cadogan

Duke of York - Cadogan Estates

Following our appointment on The Cadogan Hotel, We’re pleased to say Blend was re-appointed by Cadogan Estates to provide AV services for Cadogan Square, 10-29 Duke of York Square.

We’ll be working with Cadogan Estates to design and co-ordinate AV systems at their offices. This involves the refurbishment of their first and third floors to create workspaces, offices and meeting rooms for the estate.

Awarded the finest in hospitality

Two Blend projects – the Rosewood Hotel and the Beaumont Hotel were recently awarded prestigious hospitality awards.

Rosewood Hotel:

• Hotel of the Year, London 2014/2015 – AA Hospitality Awards

• Hotel of the Year 2014 – Virtuoso Best of the Best Awards

• Best New Hotel in the World 2014 – Telegraph Ultratravel

• The Hot List 2014 (UK) – Condé Nast Traveller

• The Hot List (USA) – Condé Nast Traveller

• The It List 2014 – Travel & Leisure

Beaumont Hotel:

• Best New Luxury Hotel in 2014 from Experts at Luxury Travel Intelligence