In our previous article we looked at ways to design our workspaces Creating a Brighter Future - Physical Spaces that Promote an Inclusive Work Environment; we explored the shift to a greater emphasis on flexibility, preparing for a different type of space and how we use it, then finishing with the need to find balance between employee preferences, company goals and costs.
As we discussed in that article, an essential element of any workspace development is gaining and using data insights to review these developments - ensuring we are achieving the goals we set out to achieve and reviewing them to confirm we have set the correct goals.
But, how do we gain the data insights we need to help us understand how spaces are being used? Because only once we have this information, can we adjust a setup for optimal use and productivity.
We need to start the journey with the end in mind.
I’ll look at the three stages of development which will help resolve this concern for many organisations. These three stages will allow us to:
Identify a timely solution resolving immediate issues
Create more substantial resolutions for ongoing improvement
Design more complex developments using gained information
1) Use existing data to provide safe access
In the short-term, as people return to the office, it is a good time to ensure you are using your current systems to capture useful data across premises.
This data will already be available within access control systems (such as card passes) and visitor management systems. Additionally, occupants' use of WiFi can be explored to gain a clear picture of where and how people use, and move through, buildings.
Even if you think you already know the answers, proper analysis of this data will ensure you don’t make the wrong decisions. It’s also essential to ensure you access - all - the data you have available rather than focusing on where you believe the problem, or solution, lies. You may find a less obvious, but better, answer.
The next step is using this data to manage people movement throughout your spaces - using booking systems to restrict access when certain population levels are reached, as well as providing employees access to this information to ensure individuals don’t attend offices which are already - or likely to be - full.
2) Use detailed insights to map behaviour to spaces
Using sensors within your space will only be beneficial if you use the sensor solution that’s right for you; it’s important to understand the concepts of occupancy, utilisation and people counting. This understanding will give you insights about how they work together for different types of space, from seats (desks and workstations) to buildings.
With the data available from office sensors, organisations will be able to understand trends regarding their estate as a whole. It’s possible to gain population data using sensors to ‘count’ people in and out of your space, or monitor density and use of space through infrared or wifi; but again, this data will only be useful if you have considered how to analyse it and use it to inform next steps.
There are a number of systems available which can generate and collate data from workplace sensors allowing you to manage the use of meeting rooms, equipment within them, environmental systems such as air conditioning and more.
Practically, video conferencing facilities can connect people through multiple devices across locations, and these systems can be monitored and managed remotely ensuring your people have the access they need.
3) Optimise your space design and digital experiences
Having the right data available and then utilising it will help you build systems and procedures which serve your people - and therefore organisation - better. Embrace the insights and design your spaces for the way people choose to use it, with flexibility built in.
These are truly practical insights meaning that your building and equipment will serve you better - ensuring high footfall areas are cleaned more frequently, faults with heating systems are reported immediately and air conditioning is set to appropriate levels. As well as making sure population density levels are right and facilities are available as workers need them.
As further development is made in these areas, these systems are becoming more powerful and - more to the point - accessible to companies and their staff providing people with insights which will empower them in their workspaces.
About the Author
I'm Terry Chana. I am an innovation strategist that connects customer, employee and brand experiences. My passion lies in building ecosystems to solve business problems by combining creativity and technology.