Over the last two months we’ve seen three important announcements by the Government which affect and reflect on the ongoing discussions about how to future proof office spaces:
- In early February, the Government announced their designs for a digital transformation. Starting with their own offices, they’ve outlined their plans to improve connectivity across the board. Announced by the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Ben Gummer, the Government Transformation Strategy outlines the ways in which digital technology will be employed to change the way Government departments and services work.
- On 1 March, the Government published its Digital Strategy, which aims to make the UK a world leading digital economy. At the top of their priority list is improving connectivity - the first section of the report details how the Government will build this world-class digital infrastructure for the UK.
- Finally, on 8 March, the Budget announcement proved that the Government was prepared to financially commit to their ambitious connectivity targets. By investing £200 million in new full-fibre broadband local acceleration programmes, the Government is taking active steps towards plugging the country’s connectivity divide and supporting businesses across the UK.
These recent announcements are vitally important for a number of reasons - not least for what it reveals about the Government’s approach to office spaces.
How the Government will digitally enable change
There are three main ways the Government pledges to deliver “digitally enabled change” which will transform the way we work.
- Firstly, the Government wants to ensure that their own buildings have common, interoperable technology. The design and use of space should create a culture of open, digitally enabled policy-making and service delivery. By ensuring that public sector workspaces have a robust digital infrastructure, the Government is therefore better positioned to create a more efficient public sector, as well as fulfilling its pledges for greater connectivity in the UK.
- Secondly, public servants should be given the right, location-independent tools to do their jobs. Access to a strong infrastructure and the ability to connect to digital tools will indeed “transform the way government operates” by enabling departments to pursue the benefits of digital services. The Digital Strategy also announced a funding boost of £17.3m to support the development of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies in universities across the country. Emerging fields such as AI and real-time data analysis play an increasingly important role in improving connectivity and creating new revenue streams. By investing in these technologies, we will be able to improve the UK’s standing as a leader in R&D.
- Thirdly, the recent investment announcements in the Budget proves that the Government is committed to putting businesses at the front of a future broadband roll out, including full fibre. To ensure this roll out is a success, the Government has created the Business Connectivity Forum, chaired by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Business organisations, local authorities and communications providers will work together to develop specific solutions to the issues faced by businesses in accessing fast and reliable broadband.
The Government is in a unique position to lead investment in future proofing office spaces. As policy leaders, the government has the capacity to encourage cooperation between telecoms providers and businesses, as well as set the standard for connectivity in the workplace by improving their own offices.
These strategies reinforce the importance of investing in technology that will improve employee experience and increase productivity. As momentum builds for the rollout of 5G, we also need to ensure that we create the necessary, excellent, underlying digital infrastructure.