For anyone with a passing interest in the property market, the publication of another report predicting soaring prices in London is hardly a surprise. However, the latest commercial market survey by RICS did capture my attention for longer than a few minutes.
The reason it caught my eye was that the findings - commercial rents across the country rose at their fastest pace in the second quarter of 2015 since the survey by RICS began in 1998, with the London market looking particularly buoyant - got me thinking about online workspaces.
Some years ago, the early days of flexible and remote working brought about some fairly wild predictions about the imminent demise of the traditional workplace and the 9 to 5 working day. The reality has been somewhat less dramatic, even if the concepts of working from home and choosing flexible hours are now firmly established in our business culture. However, with office rents in prime locations seemingly spiraling ever upwards, will more organisations take the plunge by doing away with their central workplaces in favour of a dispersed network supported by technology?
It certainly seems possible. And even for the many organisations that aren't ready to leave their office or even down-size, online workspaces and collaboration tools that help people to work together on and off-site - and bring external collaborators seamlessly into the fold - are an increasingly vital part of the technology stack.
This led to another thought: for all those ambitious businesses that need to effectively combine collaboration technology with a traditional office, is selecting an online workspace so different from choosing a physical workplace? Perhaps the two processes are more similar than we think…
Hopefully, the few points below will help to explain what I mean. (Note: You can find each of these points - and more - explored in more detail in our free guide Online collaboration tools: 10 question to ask a supplier).
How scalable is it?
For any organisation with plans to grow, a key consideration for new office space is whether it has the room to accommodate future expansion. The same goes for an online workspace, which may start with a select group of users before more people - internally and externally - start to use the system as they recognise its value.
This is why an online collaboration tool that makes it simple (and cost-effective) to scale by adding and removing users, as well as creating multiple workspaces with different functionality when necessary, is the equivalent of an office with unlimited space to accommodate new employees and teams.
How secure is it?
Vetting security is an essential part of any office move. With valuable equipment on the premises, not to mention all the confidential data and intellectual property, preventing unauthorised access is crucial.
Creating a secure workspace in the cloud is just as important. Organisations need assurance that their data will be protected, which makes collaboration tools that adhere to high security standards (such as independent ISO 27001 certification) and are regularly penetration tested the safest bet.
How do existing customers use it?
Just as any organisation moving into a serviced office building is likely to ask other tenants about their experience, savvy businesses will seek out evidence of satisfied customers when selecting an online workspace.
Best-in-class online collaboration systems have a loyal following of users, which can help organisations to make a decision once they've created a shortlist. You can read some of our customer stories - including accounts of our work with Crossrail and the Land Registry - here.