What’s the problem with mobile phone coverage in the UK’s workplaces?

That was the question we sought to answer when we teamed up with Facilities Management Journal , asking a number of facilities managers nationwide about their experiences, frustrations – and solutions – when it comes to connecting their employees.

Here are some of the headlines:

  • 1 in 3 (31%) of facilities managers rated the mobile phone coverage inside their building as either poor or a disaster.
  • 1 in 2 (51%) reported that employees dare not move from the spot when taking a phone call, for fear of losing the signal.

The notion of an army of workers, frozen in the moment as they field an important call, is a compelling image. But also surely an appalling one? You might think that the ability to make and take a mobile phone call simply and easily, anywhere in your place of work, at rest or on the move, is a forgone conclusion?

We weren’t entirely surprised by those results however. After all, we’re hearing first hand from our customers and partners about the scale and volume of problems faced on an everyday basis within a range of office types, right across the country. We know this is an issue, and we know it’s only going to grow as technological advancements such as 5G and an ever-more dispersed workforce place increasing strain on infrastructure that ceased to be fit for purpose a while back.

The genuine surprise – arguably, the most interesting finding in the survey – came when we looked at the responses of the 28% of FMs who said that their business (or another tenant in the building) already had a mobile coverage solution installed.

Almost 30% of this group still reported poor or disastrous coverage inside their building, very much in line with the overall average. While they fared better when it came to being able to move around, a high proportion (38%) were still auditioning for the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square on a regular basis – leaving them either chained to a desk, or competing for the popular spot by the window.

There are a few ways to interpret this. Firstly it suggests that efforts by Ofcom to find and shut down the many illegal solutions hitting the market have not been as effective as hoped. It might also mean that some genuine solutions out there just aren’t doing what they’re supposed to. Finally, it’s likely that underperforming customer support and overly-complex and confusing technology is combining to limit these solutions’ effectiveness.

Whatever the reason, there’s a huge amount of education that needs to be done about poor mobile phone coverage in buildings and what can be done to resolve it. As our survey found, it’s something that has begun to reach the boardroom. Senior management have raised the issue to facilities managers in more than a third of businesses.

So what can you do if you’re a part of the 51%?

  • Firstly, don’t panic – you’re not alone.
  • Seek advice from specialists like ExcelRedstone. An investigation or evaluation survey of coverage within your building can help you to define the problem. With any luck the issue of poor mobile coverage will only affect certain, key areas. Other areas, such as the restrooms, don’t tend to be mobile phone calling hotspots.
  • Once you know the scale of your challenge, engage with some professional help Mobile network operators are NOT going to fix this problem for you. But organisations like ExcelRedstone can identify root causes and propose cost effective solutions.
  • Then take targeted action – spend only on those areas that need attention. A good provider will be able to tailor a solution to meet your specific needs.

For more information about how ExcelRedstone can help eliminate ‘not spots’ and really keep your workforce mobile and connected, please contact our dedicated team of In Building Cellular experts on IBC@redstone.com. You can also view the recent article and review the survey findings here.