Find out how the role of workplace data has accelerated since the pandemic and see what leading workplace experts at ARUP and 3edges are doing to maintain change.
In the culmination of a three-part webinar series exploring the evolution of the workplace, OpenSensors CEO & Founder Yodit Stanton was joined by leading workplace practitioners from ARUP and 3Edges to discuss the tools, data and skills required to manage and optimise hybrid workplaces.
Striving for change internally
Hybrid environments are complex, with many moving parts, and their success hinges on finding the correct balance of space allocation, asset provision and access. Managing challenges which arise, such as a perceived lack of desks, is not as straightforward as under traditional models where the solution would typically be to fit more desks into an existing space.
Now, with concerns around employee health and safety and space itself becoming an increasingly valuable commodity, any potential solution requires:
- Significantly more planning and consideration
- And the use of qualitative and quantitative data in tandem
Identifying & addressing core issues
Stephanie Welch - Head of FM at ARUP - spoke about challenges they’d encountered with their meeting rooms spaces. From occupancy data alone it appeared that their spaces were in constant use and more spaces were needed.
However, by talking to employees it became apparent that these spaces were being used as quasi-offices by individuals. This observation was confirmed by counter sensor data, which showed that spaces fit for medium to large groups were being used by individuals or pairs throughout the day.
By aggregating multiple data points and types, Stephanie was able to formulate a business case which addressed the actual issue at hand by providing more spaces suitable for individual work and private meetings instead of reacting to the first piece of information received and unnecessarily expanding on their existing meeting room suite.
Creating data-led methodologies
Clearly, incorporating data into your planning from the outset is incredibly important, but Ian Ellison - Director of 3edges - stressed the value of incorporating data into the fundamental ways in which workplaces are managed and transformed as an on-going process.
He argued that the pandemic has accelerated existing trends within the workplace, such as the shift towards Activity Based Working, and the term ‘hybrid work’ itself is a continuation of this, but also that the pandemic has highlighted the gaps in the tools and data available to workplace managers.
Just as the workplace itself is evolving the profession itself must do the same, or else it runs the risk of being left behind and becoming ineffectual.
Ian stresses the importance of embracing iterative and data-led methodologies as more sources of data and information become available, moving away from high-level discussions about the workplace to identifying specific challenges and making small, incremental changes to address them, whilst ensuring that their impact is monitored.
Largely, Ian believes that in order for complex environments to succeed we need to move away from change for change’s sake and instead focus on what we can see.
This shift poses challenges of its own and Ian is quick to warn of the potential dangers of creating data-centric methodologies. It is vital that teams have the skills necessary to not only interpret data, but ensure that it is accurate and clean and representative of the entire picture.
Putting data to work
By leveraging data at every stage of workplace planning and management teams are able to create spaces which are highly flexible and responsive to new challenges. OpenSensors CEO & Founder Yodit Stanton, uses employee wellbeing as a core example of this, highlighting the multi-purpose nature of individual data points.
As a result of COVID-19, employees and organisations alike are acutely aware of the risks posed by indoor environments in relation to viral spread and it is the responsibility of workplace managers to ensure that the necessary steps are taken to
mitigate this risk.
However, Yodit is quick to demonstrate how data which has been collected in the past can be used to address this issue if only it’s interpreted in the correct manner.
Historically, organisations have been gathering occupancy data to plan expansions and prepare for lease events, and CO2 levels have been monitored in relation to productivity, but now they’re being recognised as cornerstone metrics in relation to health and safety.
Acting as a proxy measure for particle build-up, CO2 levels provide a straightforward view of the safety of an organisation’s Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). Alone, this data can identify an issue, but when analysed alongside occupancy data teams are able to identify trends in employee behaviour which cause dangerous spikes.
Combining data points in this way not only enables teams to plan their own space allocation to keep IAQ at a safe level, but also approach landlords and building managers with the evidence necessary to make changes to HVAC systems.
Without the inclusion of data in the everyday management of a space, not only would these issues not be solved, but they wouldn’t be identified in the first place.
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