Analytics are nothing new to business. From measuring sales to optimizing marketing campaigns, data is key in order to understand success and establish next steps. But surfacing up analytics stretches far beyond the traditional sales and marketing realms at modern day companies. In fact it stretches the entire length of the workplace, through every meeting room, every flex space, and beyond for remote employees. We’re talking about workplace data and analytics.
Curious how much space and money your company could save on unused office space? Find out with this free office space calculator.
In order for people to be productive, they need a space that supports their work and provides all the tools they need in order to reach their goals. No, a productive workplace and hitting goals are not mutually exclusive, but the rate at which employees can get their work done in a productive workplace is much faster than in a space that doesn’t support how they work.
Workplace analytics arm facilities with explicit proof of what is and isn’t working in the office. They uncover how space is actually being used, not just how people think it is, in a way that makes it easy to take action and capitalize on current space. They avoid office moves in certain cases when office reorganization is enough to drastically improve workplace productivity and satisfaction.
In this post we’ll take a look at ways companies rely on data to optimize the workplace and enhance both existing and new employee experience.
Thanks to mobile technology, the global economy, and remote work, traditional work habits have changed. It’s not uncommon for employees to work from home or a local coffee shop on a daily basis. Because most employees are no longer “graded” on physical attendance (RIP cubicles) but instead on output, working from a space of their choice at any given time is common. As a result of people constantly moving throughout the day, it’s easy for certain areas of the office to go unused. Between pricey real estate and utilities costs, that’s a lot of wasted cash on space that could be used in other ways.
According to an EOCOM Time Utilization Survey, workspaces of all kinds are occupied just 42% of the day. Oftentimes it’s not obvious when space is underutilized which is why the value of workplace data is critical. Surfacing up information to answer questions like:
- Which conference rooms are used more often than others? At what rate are they being booked?
- What spaces throughout the office are underutilized (i.e. meeting rooms, flex spaces, desks)?
- Why are employees avoiding the areas of the office that go underutilized?
- Do the types of meetings employees are having match the space they’re booking?
- How many no-show, abandoned, and ghost meetings happen every week? Do those meeting rooms open up to the rest of the office when no one shows up?
With this information, IT and Facilities can understand which spaces are unnecessary and why. A lack of utilization can be the result of many things including lack of insight into the office floor plan or schedule, spaces don’t support certain activities, lack of reliable technology, or employees are unaware of how certain spaces are meant to be used.
At the end of the day, companies only want to pay for space being used. That part we know to be true. The only way to do so is by taking advantage of workplace analytics to uncover any office blindspots.
Employee Experience, Recruitment, and Retention
The next generation of employees not only demand a positive workplace experience, they expect it. Flexible work styles consistently rank high for what people look for in job opportunities. That means providing employees with a variety of space types based on their daily activities and needs.
One need in particular, the need for privacy and quiet, which has come up a lot in recent open office press, seems to be a shared desire across all employee types. An Interface, Inc. workplace acoustic study revealed that 62% of employees said minimizing distractions is integral to being productive at work.
“The only problem is 55% of the same pool queried described their workplace as noisy and disruptive, with 69% saying it directly precluded their ability to work efficiently. According to the respondents, the chief culprit is chit-chat. 79% said that conversations between their employees keep them from focusing.”
Oftentimes the way to combat the commotion is to squat or reserve a meeting room for hours at a time in order to get focus work done. And when those conference rooms are meant for larger groups, brainstorms, or video conferencing calls, that’s prime real estate taken away from those who need it, leaving people with one option: to meet out in the open only to create more noise. It’s a vicious cycle.
Workplace analytics surface up these issues with data on:
- Which meeting rooms are overbooked, why and by who
- Whether or not your office has enough meeting spaces
- What day and time your office is the busiest
- Whether or not spaces and events are well-matched based on size of room, number of people, and purpose of the meeting
- How spaces are being used (reserved in advance, ad-hoc, abandoned meetings, etc)
If you notice the spaces in your office aren’t well-matched to the events taking place, like individuals consistently squatting in a large conference room to avoid a noisy office for example, it’s time to rethink your workplace design. Could that room be redesigned to accommodate focus work? Or is change management necessary for people to understand the original purpose of the conference room? Could you add phone booths instead?
Those insights all focus on spaces like meeting rooms, but what about desks or workstations? Workplace data makes it easy to understand what types of employees you have, whether or not desks go unoccupied, how often employees reserve desks and in what areas of the office, and more. If a pod of desks in one area of the office consistently go unused, that’s a telltale sign that employees are avoiding them. It’s crucial to investigate why and redesign as needed.
In an ever-changing work environment, the cost of a lack of understanding into how your office space is used is high in terms of both productivity and employee retention. Today, people expect a workplace that provides them with everything they need (spaces, tools, amenities) in order to reach their goals and enjoy the experience along the way. Workplace analytics reveal how your employees use the space provided, shedding light on what is and isn’t working so your team can continue to iterate.
Improving the workplace is an ongoing project that requires constant attention. Data that shows real-time space usage acts as the sidekick to make the process that much easier.