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Why Your Workplace Design Strategy Should be Founded on Data

Sep 23 2021

In this age of innovation, the most successful enterprises make decisions that rely on tangible insights, usually in the form of data. These decisions are made throughout the enterprise- in the sales department, on marketing teams- and serve as the basis for designing new policies and workplace best practices. So, shouldn’t the workplace itself be designed with data in mind?

Data-informed workplace design optimizes the use of office space by relying on real-time data and trends, which increases productivity. Using data generated by employee activity and behavior places employees at the center of your workplace strategy and supports their needs and expectations, providing intentionality to the organization’s growth. This is a level of thoughtfulness that does not go unnoticed by employees. According to a 2019 survey, 90% of office professionals agree that they perform their jobs better in workspaces that are designed with intention and thought.  

And when we talk about good office design in the modern workplace what we are really talking about is flexibility. 71% of employees agree that it’s important for their company’s workplace design to be flexible, with 73% agreeing that this versatility at work includes having access to flexible furniture arrangements. Flexible and agile workplaces, like the choice-based work model at ServiceNow, use bookable desks and meeting spaces to enable hybrid work. When employees can reserve workspaces and access individual and collaborative areas, they can work flexible hours or a modified schedule.

The goal is to develop systems that genuinely meet the needs of your employees, rather than making choices based on anecdotal evidence or things that benefit leadership but not the greater employee population. Making data-driven decisions about workplace design and implementing changes that directly impact the daily lives of employees lead to a more productive and overall satisfied workforce. By choosing informed flexibility based on the lived experience of your employees, companies can avoid throwing budget at what will prove to be a passing trend.

What making data-driven decisions about workplace design really comes down to is how well business leaders understand the behavior and workplace preferences of their employees, in a granular way. To do so requires the introduction  of a workplace analytics platform, software designed to provide business leaders and property owners with the information they need to optimize their workspaces. 

The VergeSense workplace analytics platform allows company leaders to see for themselves how their teams are utilizing their workspaces through real-time data, so they don’t have to guess and can instead proceed directly to making informed decisions to optimize the workplace.

What is data-driven workplace design?

Data-driven workplace design is when an organization makes decisions about the layout and features of their office space based on employee behavior. Employee behaviors— such as their activity in the office, their workspace preferences, and their attendance—  are monitored through the use of sensors. As these sensors continuously gather data, reports are generated that business and CRE leaders can review to understand how the office is being used.  By regularly reviewing data and workplace usage specifics, companies can optimize spaces, adjust real estate investments, and improve employee experience in the office.

How does data-driven workplace design impact CRE investments?

Data-driven decisions have long been a factor in the world of commercial real estate investments. Data is used to make strategic decisions regarding property value each day. When it comes to internal workplace data, CRE professionals are able to use workplace analytics data to guide portfolio and office design decisions such as:

  • When and where to repurpose existing spaces
  • When and where to plan for new build outs
  • How to allocate spaces for individual versus collaborative use
  • Opportunities for subleasing or renting buildings or floors
  • Which areas of a building or portfolio use the most utilities and how to conserve energy

Through the use of data, CRE investors and managers are more informed about the intricacies of the spaces they are removing or adding to their portfolios. The use of big data to monitor workspace utilization is just the first step toward a proactive approach to commercial and corporate real estate investments. The more information one has about how spaces are being used, the more confidence they have when making decisions regarding their real estate portfolio.

The CRE industry didn’t always use data in this way. Recently, there’s been a push towards data-backed decisions in the corporate real estate world when it was proven to reduce costs and boost employee productivity, collaboration, and satisfaction. 

66% of commercial real estate executives report gaining a competitive edge after embracing data-analytics, marking a turning point in portfolio management for companies and corporations.

Regularly monitoring data-driven workplace insights helps companies make choices more quickly and confidently than ever before, when real estate portfolio reviews occur yearly or perhaps even every several years. Business leaders are able to make smart, informed decisions about the future of their workspaces and employees get to reap the benefits of having an office environment that is tailored to support their specific needs.

How does data-driven design affect the employee experience?

Although data-driven decisions and workplace design increase the overall ROI of the enterprise and provide a number of corporate benefits, it does so with the employee experience at the forefront.

The employees returning to the office in the coming months do not have the same needs or workplace expectations as those who left the office in March of 2020. Instead, they are returning with new skill sets and new requirements for how and where they work. By addressing these needs, companies can reduce turnover rates, decrease hiring costs, and improve job satisfaction and productivity at work, which in turn, improves company performance and allows for the attraction and retention of top talent.

The best way to support the return to office and ensure a smooth transition is with the help of a workplace analytics program capable of providing business leaders with the information they need to make data-driven design decisions. When leaders are able to thoroughly understand workspace utilization and employee behavior, they can design the smart, employee-centric workplaces of the future.

A data-driven workplace might look like one with more collaborative spaces and fewer individual workstations, or could be entirely composed of bookable meeting rooms, like a coworking space for one organization. Or it might consist of a mix of individual, collaborative, and wellness spaces. An important benefit of a workplace analytics platform is that each office building can be designed to meet the needs of the individuals who use it, depending on the unique utilization of that space, rather than the organization as a whole.

How Data-Driven Workplaces Support Employees

There are many benefits of working for an organization that uses data to inform workplace design, including:

  • Increased workplace flexibility
  • The ability to work in a space designed to support your individual needs
  • The confidence of knowing that your individual wellbeing is a priority of your employer
  • Access to optimized workspaces such as huddle rooms, hot desks, and hybrid collaboration spaces
  • A safe, comfortable work environment that alleviates safety concerns

Ultimately, when employees feel like their needs are being met and that the changes being made to the workplace are designed for their benefit, they are happier and subsequently more productive

It is no longer acceptable for an office to simply exist as a holding space for on the clock employees. The reimagined office must be more than a place that people are required to work, and more of an engagement hub for employees to remain productive and spend meaningful time with colleagues. And with employee turnover at an all time high, it’s clear that employees are willing to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to leaving their current positions in search of a workplace that fulfills their needs.

To begin making data-driven workplace decisions, request a VergeSense demo today and be on your way to implementing a workplace analytics platform that improves employee productivity, enhances agile seating and room booking technologies, enables data-driven workplace design decisions, and lowers operations costs..

How are data-driven workplaces different from smart offices?

At their core, data-driven workplaces and smart offices are two sides of the same coin. To put it another way, the two concepts work toward  the same goal: to optimize the workplace, increase overall office efficiency, and improve employee experience. It is in their approach to this goal where they differ.

On one side of your coin you have a data-driven workplace. As mentioned, these are workplaces that use workplace analytics and data to inform design and process decisions. A data-driven workplace is focused on the collection and analysis of employee behavior and occupancy data.

On the other side of the coin is a smart office. Smart offices are those that use tools and IoT-enabled technology to improve the workplace experience for employees. Smart office technology includes anything from beacons and sensors to apps and interactive monitors that help employees navigate the office in a more effective way. In a smart office, every movement is supported by user-friendly, cloud-based technology.

Both data-driven workplaces and smart offices are designed to evolve alongside employees and support them in this age of digital transformation. 

Data-driven workplaces have been around long before COVID-19 and the subsequent transition to and from remote work that encouraged business leaders to reexamine the design of their workspaces. Office design will continue to be driven by workplace data as employee needs continue to change. To ensure your workplace is prepared to support the return to work, download VergeSense’s Hybrid Workplace Playbook today.

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