While we all compete for the latest and most impressive design; a space that increases productivity, one that lowers absenteeism, sparks creativity and interaction it seems very few companies actually invest in measuring whether these designs are effective or damaging to employees performance thus overall business.
In an age where big data is knocking and more and more people are beginning to open the door, utilising the information for strategic analysis, the concept of Performance Data has emerged. A way to track and measure data about workers communication, interaction, group performances then visualizing this to suggest designs that will enhance interactions, creativity and productivity based on real life, your-business-specific information.
It seems to be an unspoken precedent of office trends that Silicon Valley giants lead the way. Facebook, Yahoo and Samsung headquarters have all been embracing the correlation between chance interaction sparking innovation and productivity. Mile long offices, strategically placed break rooms, all done with the intent of increasing unplanned employee communication.
Recent data analysis has concluded that chance encounters, whether internally or outside the workplace, improve individual and group performance. Office space if used to its full potential can be a strategic opportunity for business growth, although what works for one company may not be applicable for another. Through combining new statistical data with organisations metrics, insights appear on how the workspace layout effects performance and how it can then be engineered using these methods to improve.
Companies are now specializing in workplace performance data, measuring employee behaviour, interaction and productivity metrics to assess how to best optimize workspaces and identify and solve performance issues. Cai Kjaer, Optimice Partner, states “Most organisations see the need for cross-organisational collaboration, but the allegiance to the organisational chart – reinforced by physically co-locating business units and driven by KPIs - results in deep silos. By visualising the informal employee collaboration networks we can start applying an evidenced-based approach to where we locate teams. That means that we can maximise the likelihood for the right people ‘bumping’ into each other”.
Every year organisations spend millions of dollars on their workspaces, building, renovating, relocating, yet little research is being done in terms of organisational behaviour and the physical office environment which directly impacts employees well-being and productivity. If we change the ideology that workspaces are just that - spaces and begin to embrace them as tools for growth, performance data becomes an obvious asset.
As analysts around the globe will tell you, "You can't control what you can't measure".
Article Sources: 'Workspaces that Move People, Waber, B. et al, Oct 2014, Harvard Business Review, pp.69-77