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How Does Office Data Help Optimize Employee Experience? A Q&A with Brendan O'Neil

female professional on a video call for her hybrid team
Chuck Leddy
Published on

Adapting the workspace to meet evolving employee demands is an essential part of employee experience. At a time of rapid change, the office is never “set and forget,” especially with hybrid work. We recently chatted with Brendan O’Neil, Product Marketing Manager at Robin, about how Robin’s data can help organizations continuously improve both space utilization and employee experience (EX). What follows is an edited version of our conversation.

How can office data help build better feedback loops?

‍O’Neil: Understanding the trends and the actual usage of workspace is key. You can’t improve what you don’t measure, so data is central. Pre-pandemic, coming into the office was the default position, and the office was focused on managing resources like desks, or scarce resources like meeting rooms. Now the office is not about who has ownership of that scarce resource, but about coordinating its use and ensuring that people are getting the right use of it for very deliberate use cases. 

That's why gaining visibility into usage behaviors is so important, enabling you to make informed decisions around how you deploy workspace, which will impact employee experience. Data enables you to connect the dots and make better decisions based on incoming signals. 

Pre-pandemic, it was relatively easy to create a “one-size-fits-all” approach to workspace. The office isn’t one-size-fits-all anymore. Each organization is going to have a different and evolving perspective on how to best use it. Robin gives HR and operations teams timely insights into what’s happening, so they can make adjustments to meet employee demands as they arise. 

How does Robin help boost employee experience?

O’Neil: Workplace communication is vital for employee experience in a hybrid work model. One part of our product is Workplace Announcements. Organizations can share and ensure that everyone has seen updates on a policy or any other change. We're actually introducing a new feature where Robin offers a report inside of the application where employees can submit feedback on their in-office experience. It's a quick survey asking how the overall experience went – very focused and light-touch for the employee. 

HR and employee experience teams can use that feedback to understand the sentiment of employees around trips into the office. You can sort by team, by building, by dates, and more. In the past, employees might have suffered in silence, but now they can say “the office snacks aren’t quite cutting it, what about adding X to the snack mix?”

Organizations can literally hear the voice of employees. As organizations listen to employees, they can make relevant changes. That becomes a catalyst for a virtuous cycle where employees give more feedback as they see that it’s being used to improve their experience. That virtuous cycle strengthens trust and employee experience.

How might organizations set up a process for using Robin data to improve EX?

O’Neil: I look at it in three layers or levels. They could begin at the first level by looking for quick, “easy wins” based on the feedback employees share and other data from Robin. They might update snack options in the office or maybe tweak the thermostats. The second level might be bigger changes addressable from a quarterly perspective. Then there’s longer-term changes that might require bigger investments. For example, maybe employee sentiment over the last six months says you should expand your footprint. If you're consistently seeing employees vote with their feet, you’d want to adjust something. 

The data can facilitate asking the right questions, such as “what is actually driving employees toward or away from a specific area? What changes should we make to improve the data?” You might, based on feedback, invest in ergonomic chairs or update your workstations. You read the signals, respond to them, and then keep reading the signals. 

If you don’t listen to employees and address their needs, employees may throw up their hands and say, “I’ll just work from home.” They can also decide not to go that extra mile for you or even leave the organization. If there isn’t much trust because there isn’t much listening and responding, that erodes employee experience. 

What else would you like to add about the connection between Robin data and enhancing employee experience?

O’Neil: We're moving to a place where we have a virtual workspace, like Microsoft Teams, and a physical workspace, like the office. These two spaces are starting to overlap, like a Venn diagram. People will need a physical workspace and will still participate heavily in the virtual workspace. Balancing these new ways of working will be complex and evolving: the variables in play are going to be different every single day. Organizations need to set their teams up to win no matter what the balance of variables might be. 

Winning means balancing the two workspaces, but it’s also about building trust within the organization, listening to people, and responding with changes as needed. Employee communication is so important, and our data speaks directly to that. The office is never “set and forget.” Organizations will always need to listen and adapt to the needs of their people.

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