Are you building out your office space and trying to decide between traditional data cabling or wireless options? At AQUILA, our project management team is always looking for ways to save our clients money on their office build-out.

But once the project is underway, it can be difficult to find ways to cut down costs. Sometimes there’s just no wiggle room on the construction plan, but more often, it’s difficult to remove or revise aspects of the design, once a client has fallen in love with it.

Luckily, our project managers have found an easy solution to value engineer your office build-out, without sacrificing high-quality finishes, employee-friendly amenities, or anything else you may love about your office design.

Read Now: 4 Ways a Project Manager Can Help You Save Money

In this article, we will explain how you can save thousands of dollars on your office build-out by switching from standard data cabling to a wireless office network.


Cost of Data Cabling for Office Build-outs

Let’s start from the beginning, what is a “data drop?” A data drop refers to the point at which telecommunication devices are plugged into the wall to connect to the cabling within the building. For office users, this includes landlines, computers, printers, fax machines, etc.

Typically, as a part of the office build-out process, data drops have to be placed throughout the office. Generally, you will need two drops per employee — one for the phone and one for the computer.

While each drop itself is not overly expensive (price per drop typically ranges between $125 and $200), by the time you add two drops per employee, plus a dozen or so for conference rooms, workrooms, front desk, etc., you can be looking at 100 to 150 drops for an office company of 30 to 50 employees which can bring your data cabling cost to upwards of $12,000 to $30,000.


Benefits of Using a Wireless Office Network Instead of Data Cabling

Rather than spending tens of thousands of dollars on hardwire connections, a practical way to save money on your office build-out is to go wireless.

By switching from landline phones and desktop computers to cell phones and laptops, companies can avoid the need to pay for data drops for every employee. Instead, companies may choose to purchase a robust WiFi network and cell phone reimbursement plans for employees. Often, these are expenses you would already be incurring, but with the money saved on data cabling, you can beef up your routers, bandwidth, download speed, and more.  

Read Next: The Ultimate Guide to Building Out Office Space

While you will likely still need to install a handful of data drops for your Wireless Access Points (WAPs) and in community spaces, such as conference room phone lines, printer connections, and office mainline, this will bring the cost down to just a fraction of what you would pay to drop connections for every employee.

For example, AQUILA recently served as the project manager on an office build-out in which the client originally received a proposal to install two drops per employee, plus standard communal lines. The quote came in at upwards of $10,000. By switching to a wireless, cloud-based system with just 25% of the original number of drops, the quote dropped to just $3,000.


Be sure to price out the best cable type for you

In this article, we explain data drops based on standard CAT5E cabling, which required you to run a cable for each device. In recent years, CAT6 cabling has come on the market; CAT6 cables allow you to run multiple devices on a single cable, decreasing your total required drop count.

While CAT6 cables are more expensive per cable than CAT5E, you can use fewer cables with CAT6, so it is typically still more cost-effective to install fewer CAT6 cables at a higher price per unit.

Wireless Offices Fit the Trend Towards Creative and Flexible Workspaces

Wireless office setups are becoming more and more popular with the rise of creative office spaces.

These creative offices are defined by flexible workspaces and collaborative areas, both of which rely upon a wireless connection. A wireless setup allows employees to easily reconfigure work areas, move from desk to desk to meet with different teams, and set up shop in a conference room or communal space for an afternoon brainstorming session, all with their company laptop at their fingertips.

Capital Factory Creative Work Space Utilizes Wifi Networks | Data Cabling

Capital Factory utilizes a wireless network connection to allow for maximum flexibility and scalability within its coworking offices.

Additionally, wireless connections allow your company to easily grow and scale.

With data cabling, you would have to drop a new cable (or two) for each new employee. Additionally, your furniture layout would be defined by the layout of the drops. If you had four cubes in an area but wanted to increase efficiency by replacing them with six new workstations, you’d likely need to install new data drops for the two new stations.

However, with wireless, you can easily add new employees or reconfigure your workspace as often as you like.

Read Next: 3 Tips to Keep Your Commercial Build-Out Costs on Budget

Additional Money-Saving Benefits of Going Wireless in Your Office

In addition to saving you money on data drops and allowing for flexibility and scalability, going wireless results in less mess in your server room: fewer switches, cables, racks, etc.

With less to house in your server room, you can usually shrink the size of this space and add that square footage back into your usable space.

Depending on your needs, you may eliminate the server room altogether, moving it into a small closet or even a mounted wall rack in a storage room, conference room, or even an office.


Do you need an on-site server?

While you’re downsizing the size of your server room by going wireless, ask yourself the question: do you need your server to be onsite? Many companies are switching to cloud-based servers, which eliminates the need for a server space altogether. All you would need at this point would be a small space for the handful of cables from the WAPs, printers, and conference phones to connect to switches and patch panels.

Not only does moving to a cloud-based server save you square feet in your office, it will also eliminate the need for:

  1. Supplemental HVAC in your server room, saving you anywhere from $5,000 – 10,000
  2. Emergency backup UPS (Uninterrupted power supplies); the data center will handle this for you
  3. Access controls based on security concerns
  4. Maintenance and upgrades, both expensive and time-consuming

Not only does moving to a cloud-based server save you square feet in your office, but it will also eliminate the need for:

  1. Supplemental HVAC in your server room, saving you anywhere from $5,000 to 10,000
  2. Emergency backup UPS (Uninterrupted power supplies); the data center will handle this for you
  3. Access controls based on security concerns
  4. Maintenance and upgrades, both expensive and time-consuming


So what’s next?

We hope this article has given you some ideas about how to save money on your office renovation, without sacrificing design.

To learn more about budgeting for your office build-out, check out these articles:

Or download our Office Budget Template to start planning your own office build-out budget.

For another quick tip on how you might save money, without cutting costs on your construction budget, take a look at these 5 Reasons to Consider Renting Versus Buying Office Furniture.

If you’ve found yourself in the middle of an office build-out that’s gone over budget, or you’re about to begin the process, contact our project management team today to get your project on the right track.

New call-to-action

Dustin Hogzett | Commercial Project Management in Austin, Texas | AQUILA Commercial

Dustin Hogzett

As a project manager with AQUILA, Dustin leads and manages fast-track and task-critical design and construction projects.

Recent posts from Dustin

Related Content

Want the latest from the AQUILA Learning Center?

We’ll send you one email a month featuring our most relevant content. You can also manage your subscription preferences.