At Spatio Metrics, we’ve seen that workplace design has a significant impact on human health, productivity, and wellbeing. As we adapt to new ways of working and staying healthy amidst the pandemic, the role of physical office space needs to adapt as well.
It has never been more important to have a thoughtful approach to office layouts and the ways your company leverages its space to enable collaboration, foster productivity, and steward company culture. Though workplace design has always played a role in helping companies perform at their best, the shift of not necessarily being the default place of work provides a rare opportunity to rethink your office space in a data-driven way.
A well-tuned approach to data can help you understand when spaces are being used most effectively, or when adjustments like repurposing a conference room into a quiet workspace could help your team focus. It can help you understand what’s driving employee comfort and satisfaction, or whether your team is nudged to practice healthy behaviors.
To get a complete picture of your office and the activity inside, we think of three different kinds of data: spatial data, sensor data, and operational KPIs. Spatial data helps you understand how your layout encourages different modes of work, culture, or efficiency. Sensor data helps you understand how people use and respond to the space and its characteristics. Operational KPIs help you tie it all back to make sure your space is leading to the outcomes your company wants. We help our customers put these inputs together, whether the office is being designed or over time as it operates in the real world.
Though many of us have an intuitive understanding that windows improve comfort, or that certain spaces are more conducive to concentration than others, organizations rarely have spatial data that helps them understand how their layout is aligned with their company’s goals. As a result, these powerful levers are often overlooked.
Based on the growing body of studies showing links between design and performance, we quantify aspects of space that aren’t always easily seen or measured:
- Space Allocations – what percentage of your space is appropriate for focused work, collaboration, or other modes of work?
- Privacy – how visible or private is each workstation in the office?
- Comfort – how much access to natural light and views do employees have?
- Healthy Behaviors – are sinks, sanitizer stations, and stairwells placed to strategically encourage handwashing, exercise, and other healthy behaviors?
- Travel Distances – are coworkers and destinations like conference rooms easily accessible from workstations?
This data is a crucial piece of the puzzle, and the good news is that it is one of the easiest forms of data to acquire — all you need is a floor plan, and Spatio Metrics’ analysis software can take care of the rest to provide you with tailored feedback on what’s working and what’s not for your organization.
With a digital profile of your spaces in hand, you’ll next want to understand how the space changes over time, and how people use it. Several data streams are available:
- Utilization sensors: Which desks and spaces are used most often?
- Acoustic sensors: Which spaces are loud or quiet?
- Temperature sensors: Which areas are hot or cold?
This type of data can tell you if assumptions about how a space will be used are correct, and be combined with spatial data to give you an even deeper understanding of your spaces. For example, utilization data can be combined with information about travel paths to tell you whether areas are unexpectedly congested or noisy. Or, room booking logs can be combined with space allocations after a reconfiguration can help you understand whether you could expect good results if you renovated spatially similar zones in other areas of the office.
Sensors capture what’s happening in your spaces, but are a means to an end — the final step is to understand if these patterns are boosting your organization’s key performance indicators (KPIs).
Finally, there is a lot to learn by tying the spatial and sensor data back to the KPIs your organization is striving to achieve. Which layout characteristics are moving the needle on your organization’s retention? When employees use different amenities and ‘vote with their feet’, what does this actually say about collaboration? Some examples of these kinds of organizational outcome metrics include:
- Employee satisfaction surveys and culture ratings
- Employee retention statistics
- Productivity indices
- Collaboration indices
The right metrics to consider here are the metrics that your organization is striving for, and will vary from company to company.
Putting it all together for data-driven insights
While each of these data streams is useful in its own right, they’re most powerful when they work together to help you understand the relationships that will drive your space planning strategy.
To do so, you’ll need a central source of data and ways to cut through the noise to surface and understand the most important information. Companies like HqO — the end-to-end operating system for commercial office buildings — provide products that help you keep tabs on your data with a centralized data lake. Through HqOS™ and its Digital Grid™, landlords can collect tenant behavior, amenities, and building data all in one place. Spatio Metrics’ data can integrate within this platform, helping to combine data sources visually and allowing you to overlay and see different data streams on your floor plan while highlighting actionable changes.
By creating a data-driven methodology for space planning, workplace facility leaders can distill connections between these disparate sources of data and find the signal in the noise.
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