What office metrics to measure in workplace strategy: A design museum session hosted by Robin

Katie Cavanaugh
Katie Cavanaugh
Published on 

office space with people in the space

What office metrics should you measure for effective workplace strategy?

Missing the mark when it comes to workplace strategy has much more serious consequences than the embarrassment of calling a coworker by the wrong name.

50% of employees claim their workplace doesn’t enable them to work productively.  Losses in productivity and engagement can cost a company approximately 34% of an employee’s annual salary. If you apply that rate to a 250 person company -- you’d see losses of over $3 million per year.

Basically, when it comes to employee experience and workplace functionality, guessing and checking simply won’t cut it. Gathering, monitoring, and analyzing actionable data is essential for effective workplace strategy.

Audience members at the recent Design Museum Morning session hosted by Robin

Here are the three metrics Emily says companies need in order to create informed workplace strategy:

1. Occupancy

To measure occupancy, you need to track:

  • Total building square footage 
  • # of employees using the space daily, weekly, and monthly
  • # of total monthly visitors

Occupancy is an important KPI to have as a baseline because it helps companies estimate how many resources they need. For example, industry estimates suggest that you should be able to allocate 1.2 - 1.3 people per desk based on occupancy. But knowing how many people are typically in your office each day will help you tweak that number, give or take, to best fit the needs of your team.

In addition to the baseline metric, you’ll want to dig deeper for context. Why are people choosing to work remotely versus in the office? Do certain teams work out of the office more than others? What resources are people using when they’re in? Do people like bringing clients, customers, job applicants, or friends into the space? Occupancy is one of the easiest metrics to track, through things like employee badge data, HR systems, or a simple review of OOO or WFH statuses in Slack.

2. Utilization

To measure utilization, you need to track: 

  • % of space and desk utilization over a 40-hour workweek 
  • Event breakdown by type, size, and resources 
  • % of events booked ad hoc vs. in advance

Once you know who’s coming into the workplace, it’s important to understand how and when the space is utilized in order to accurately identify the purpose and priority of the resources within it. It’s only when you combine occupancy and utilization data do you get a more complete picture of how your office works. They’re two halves to the objective data story around who, how, and when the space is used -- and they’re both critical to understanding how to make informed decisions around future design and building needs.

Again, context matters here. Other questions to help expose how space is used include: What types of work styles and activities are employees typically engaging in, and what resources do they need for these tasks? Do enough of those resources exist? What types of activities are hard to do in your office today? How are folks coping with that? Do certain groups use spaces more than others? Are there enough of those resources for when that group grows?

3. Adoption

To measure adoption, you need to track:

  • % of the organization abiding by changes weekly and monthly 
  • # of users interacting with new tools or technology 
  • Sentiment analysis or employee feedback surveys

The third key metric is adoption so you can understand how employees are adapting to any changes within the office -- whether that’s new tech, new policies, or new space. Any of these strategies are prone to failure without getting employees appropriately onboarded. Measuring how people are bought-in comes in two parts: first, collect survey data regarding sentiment toward the change, and second, collect metrics illustrating whether people are doing what they’ve committed to.

In addition to watching adoption metrics for new software or systems, questions to consider around the context of that adoption include: How many employees are participating? How are they participating? What’s the sentiment of the employee feedback around these changes? Are the changes improving or detracting from workplace experience?

Tip: Piloting broader cultural changes such as flex seating with a smaller, cross-functional group first helps to build internal champions who can help encourage adoption during the rollout to the entire organization. As Emily put it, every dance floor needs one brave soul to start dancing first before everyone else joins.

Our customer Lola.com noticed it was hard to find space to meet mid-week since 40% of their meeting rooms were already booked at the beginning of the week. To solve this issue, they instituted a strict check-in policy. Now, if no one shows up to the room within ten minutes, the space automatically frees up for others to use.

What can you do now to be more data-driven in your workplace?

Data can be a powerful ally in helping to ensure that your current workplace strategy is on track and when things need to change. The best part is, there are a few simple things that you or someone on your team could start doing as soon as tomorrow to help make more informed design decisions for your workplace.

  • Routine data checks. Start building a data check into your monthly routine to ensure you have a baseline understanding of how your office works. Only knowing occupancy and utilization data is a good start.
  • Balance quantitative and qualitative measures. Ask questions to get the why behind the data to better understand what your team needs through both qualitative and quantitative studies. Make design decisions based on that, not just on trends or gut feeling.
  • Iterate along the way. Use data to watch whether changes are making the impact you envisioned, and if not, keep making small adjustments until you get it right.

In almost all aspects of life, expectations don’t always align with reality leaving people confused, disillusioned, and uninspired. The same holds true in the workplace design if you opt to lean on gut-feel, the whims of executives, or #officedesign Pinterest boards. Our very own Emily True outlined why data-driven workplace strategy is the best route to most closely align workplace expectations with reality. Check out the first part of the data-driven workplace series about the consequences of ill-informed strategy here.

Robin’s Emily True, Senior Product Manager, spoke at a recent Design Museum Morning hosted by Robin about why data-driven workplace strategies are key to organizational success. Because her talk was chock-full of so much valuable information, we’re covering the event in two parts. Read the first part about the consequences of misaligning expectations and reality with ill-informed workplace strategy here.