Covid and property : what are the consequences for cabling solutions in construction
An end to large open spaces and individual offices, Flex Office? While there are not yet any definite answers, it is certain that cabling systems will need to offer greater flexibility in the future, whilst ensuring that systems and equipment operate correctly, and adapting to the hybridisation of the world of work.
Imposed abruptly in March 2020 by the Covid-19 pandemic, teleworking has finally proved itself as a working mode that is now accepted and appreciated by a majority of employees. Although most business leaders would prefer a return to face-to-face work, the economic realities and uncertainty about stability are forcing them to think seriously about financial optimisation. Property, the second-largest expenditure item for companies, is therefore right at the heart of their considerations, as demonstrated by the study carried out by Génie des Lieux, a design consultancy: more than 60% of companies surveyed have undertaken reviews, or are still in the process of doing so, focusing on adaptation of their work spaces.
Modularity of cabling! Yes, but how?
Modularity is going to become the key word in the process of adapting the workplace, if the need arises. Conventional cabling infrastructures can be modified easily to provide this flexibility:
Multiplication of consolidation boxes grouping together large numbers of links in false floors or ceilings
Use of a flexible link from these points for user cabling in accordance with the density of people present and the layout of the offices
Deployment of male/female links, or MPTL.
Even greater flexibility with "zone cabling"?
Infrastructure with a consolidation point must be accompanied by a method of zoning the space, called "zone cabling". The workspace must no longer be considered in terms of a specific number of sockets per workstation, from the patch panels, but as cabling zones instead. Each zone will be processed and wired from a consolidation point, or an active product, to mark out the space in accordance with the number of people concerned. "Zone cabling" minimises the number of points and links, offering modularity and expandability.
Wi-Fi: an ideal solution for the Flex Office
In the event of use of hot-desking offices, Wi-Fi coverage represents an alternative solution to hardwired connections. These configurations of shared spaces, where many users are likely to be connecting at the same time, have a requirement for high speed and bandwidth. The new Wi-Fi standards, IEEE 802.11ax WiFi 6 or WiFi 6E, are responding to this challenge with use of a bandwidth decongestion technique called OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access).
« Shall we do the meeting by video? Hope it works…! »
This revolution in working methods has also been marked dramatically by the explosion in video conferencing. Hybrid meetings are now part of everyday life in all companies, regardless of their size. Video, with its particularly high consumption of bandwidth, together with file sharing, requires installation of high-performance cabling. These constraints make use of the almost mandatory Category 6A solutions, to guarantee optimal operation.
In addition to the factor of network capacity, the quality of meetings can also be affected by the audiovisual cabling used. The HDMI link, used widely for its performance in video connections, has a disadvantage in that it is limited to a distance of 15 metres. To meet installation requirements that can quickly reach this constraint, hybrid copper and optical HDMI cablesallow for long-distance links, up to 50 metres, without any signal loss.
Shielded category 6A: a "mandatory" standard?
Wi-Fi networks and their potential problems, videoconferencing and the need for a high-performance network that can guarantee operation of shortened work presences, all require use of the best possible cabling solution in terms of performance. Category 6A, widely deployed for several years, and combined with high EMC shielding, will be vital for all infrastructure in the future. The deployment of remote powering, through the IEEE PoE standards, such as IEEE 802.3bt used for Wi-Fi hotspots, tends to recommend use of 4PPoE cables to minimise heat dissipation.
(*survey carried out among 3,908 professionals located throughout France, conducted online on the BuzzPress France panel, according to the quota method, in the period from 18 to 21 January 2021).