There are benefits for businesses when it comes to shared office spaces – low overhead, lease flexibility, and networking opportunities come to mind – but there are also some challenges, such as maintaining a strong wireless infrastructure. A WiFi network in these spaces is not operating in a controlled setting, but it still needs to support a high level of performance.
Take a specific look at some of the challenges posed by these environments.
One of the biggest challenges in multi-tenant co working space is that how to separate data traffic from each other. You have to ensure that high-level of security as well as WLAN has to live up to its promise. Alot of buildings will have dozens of SSIDs broadcasting all over the space. So every tenant will end up by having their own little router in the office and broadcasting SSIDs on default configuration with 40 to 80Mhz channel. It means WiFi is not going to work for anyone due to high SSIDs overhead which I wrote about in different post.
Reliable network for associates and guests:
One challenge in multi-tenant site is to understand who will be using the network. Most of the time you design a building which is empty and you as a WLAN engineer will struggle to get the information that how tenants will be using WI-Fi network. What applications they will be using? Voice over WiFi will be needed? or other critical information needed to design the network will be missing because tenants are not in the building at time of design.
Generally these spaces are medium to high density. There are not set of numbers in each office but you will have roughly idea that how many people can be in one office. but it’s likely that its not a small space, so network infrastructure should be configured to handle the demands of large groups. Regardless of how busy the environment becomes, the WiFi needs to stay strong and fast. How about communal areas ? do they have events in the building? if yes then how you going to handle it.
Diversity of devices:
BYOD? I think everyone familiar with the term BYOD (bring your own device). In shared space environment expect to have different type of devices such old,new phones, Printers, Smart TVs, Alexa, Chromebook and list can go on and on. How you going to address devices diversity and also maintain good security as well as traffic segregation.
On going dynamic demands:
Today’s office spaces are mobile environments. People need to be able to walk from room to room, or desk to desk, and stay connected to the wireless network. In a shared office space where someone might not even have a designated desk with the option for cables and ports, strong WiFi and the ability to access information from any point become even more business-critical. If there are connectivity issues, many of these spaces have remote IT teams who are not onsite 24/7. These teams need support in determining where problems lie within a network, to encourage rapid mean time to resolution response.
One of issue I have come across in co-working spaces is during refurbishments you might be given the maps to start predictive design as building is not ready yet and you can not visit the site. You completed the design and once you visit the building you realise that your maps were outdated. It is very important to push all stake holders to visit the site and confirm that maps are correct. You must also understand units (offices) layout that APs mounting location is not compromised as shown below. In the office below AP was lower down due to those heavy metallic pipes. So its important that we are aware of the buildings as well units inside so we do not make any design mistakes.