The Leader Magazine

SEP 2016

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50 SEPTEMBER 2016 Joan Meyers is managing director of Gensler La Crosse. She leads her team in the development of applications and platforms that support space and occupancy management for corporate real estate. F E A T U R E A R T I C L E Interactive survey methods are a reliable way to capture employee feedback and Interactive survey methods are a reliable way to capture employee feedback and Interactive survey methods are a reliable way to capture employee feedback and lo Interactive survey methods are a reliable way to capture employee feedback and perceptions about a space. However, with some tracking methods there is reliance perceptions about a space. However, with some tracking methods there is reliance perceptions about a space. However, with some tracking methods there is reliance on occupants to use systems correctly; this means no squatting in conference rooms and cancelling unused room or station reservations, which may skew data. Combin- and cancelling unused room or station reservations, which may skew data. Combin- and cancelling unused room or station reservations, which may skew data. Combin- and cancelling unused room or station reservations, which may skew data. Combin- ing an interactive solution with an observation spot-check can help validate the ing an interactive solution with an observation spot-check can help validate the ing an interactive solution with an observation spot-check can help validate the quality of space utilization and activity data that are being collected. quality of space utilization and activity data that are being collected. quality of space utilization and activity data that are being collected. quality of space utilization and activity data that are being collected. quality of space utilization and activity data that are being collected. quality of space utilization and activity data that are being collected. The Gensler Workplace Performance Index ® is an example of interactive data collection. Typically used as a pre- and post-occupancy survey tool, the WPI tool collection. Typically used as a pre- and post-occupancy survey tool, the WPI tool collection. Typically used as a pre- and post-occupancy survey tool, the WPI tool collection. Typically used as a pre- and post-occupancy survey tool, the WPI tool gathers employee input on workplace performance factors that drive workplace strategy and inform design decisions. A post-occupancy survey can measure the strategy and inform design decisions. A post-occupancy survey can measure the strategy and inform design decisions. A post-occupancy survey can measure the success of the design solution and continue to gauge the need for change. Passive data collection The promise of a passive approach is that it's the least disruptive method. It's a byproduct of something occupants are already doing: sitting in a chair, walking by a sensor, or just using a phone. Pas- sive methods are great for long-term studies, where capturing utiliza- where capturing utiliza- tion data is the primary tion data is the primary objective. Although pas- Although pas- sive methods are not disruptive, they can cause backlash if they result in the perception that employees are being watched or cause backlash if they result in the perception that employees are being watched or tracked continuously. Here again, it's important to be transparent with employees or participants about the goals and methods of the study. Secretly installing seat sensors participants about the goals and methods of the study. Secretly installing seat sensors participants about the goals and methods of the study. Secretly installing seat sensors on employees' chairs tends to spread suspicions on why people are being tracked. Note that utilization data can be skewed when occupants do not exhibit typical Note that utilization data can be skewed when occupants do not exhibit typical Note that utilization data can be skewed when occupants do not exhibit typical behavior, such as working with the lights off (affecting light sensors) or if chairs get behavior, such as working with the lights off (affecting light sensors) or if chairs get behavior, such as working with the lights off (affecting light sensors) or if chairs get behavior, such as working with the lights off (affecting light sensors) or if chairs get behavior, such as working with the lights off (affecting light sensors) or if chairs get behavior, such as working with the lights off (affecting light sensors) or if chairs get switched around between desks (affecting seat sensors). While passive methods can switched around between desks (affecting seat sensors). While passive methods can switched around between desks (affecting seat sensors). While passive methods can track utilization patterns, they won't uncover activity data (i.e., the actions taking track utilization patterns, they won't uncover activity data (i.e., the actions taking track utilization patterns, they won't uncover activity data (i.e., the actions taking track utilization patterns, they won't uncover activity data (i.e., the actions taking place in the space). Adding in an observation spot check can verify that results are place in the space). Adding in an observation spot check can verify that results are place in the space). Adding in an observation spot check can verify that results are accurate. analyze and strategize Although data gathered from a single source can be useful on their own, layering Although data gathered from a single source can be useful on their own, layering Although data gathered from a single source can be useful on their own, layering data from multiple methods can create a rich view of the workplace and answer complex questions. For example, it may be clear from utilization data which confer- complex questions. For example, it may be clear from utilization data which confer- ence room is underutilized, but layering in data from equipment in the room may ence room is underutilized, but layering in data from equipment in the room may show that it's actually the No. 1 choice for video conferencing. Other examples of show that it's actually the No. 1 choice for video conferencing. Other examples of using data to inform a strategy include: using data to inform a strategy include: • providing hard, irrefutable data to support a workplace strategy • providing hard, irrefutable data to support a workplace strategy • providing hard, irrefutable data to support a workplace strategy • verifying current standards/benchmarks and space-allocation metrics • verifying current standards/benchmarks and space-allocation metrics • verifying current standards/benchmarks and space-allocation metrics • verifying current standards/benchmarks and space-allocation metrics • optimizing a space to better suit the needs of the users • identifying departments for mobile readiness • identifying departments for mobile readiness • implementing seat-sharing • consolidating leases and staff to save space • consolidating leases and staff to save space • consolidating leases and staff to save space • explaining why areas dedicated to a specifi c task are underutilized • explaining why areas dedicated to a specifi c task are underutilized Putting it all together: a case study A global company was in the early stages of planning a real estate, design, and mobility strategy with the goal of consoli- estate, design, and mobility strategy with the goal of consoli- estate, design, and mobility strategy with the goal of consoli- estate, design, and mobility strategy with the goal of consoli- estate, design, and mobility strategy with the goal of consoli- dating and optimizing its workplace. First it needed to fi nd out how employees were actually using the current space. how employees were actually using the current space. Using the iPad app, Observe™ (for observation), Gensler Using the iPad app, Observe™ (for observation), Gensler Using the iPad app, Observe™ (for observation), Gensler gathered data at 2,460 spaces within the workplace. After sur- gathered data at 2,460 spaces within the workplace. After sur- gathered data at 2,460 spaces within the workplace. After sur- veying the workplace for ten days, we analyzed the raw data and created dynamic reports to depict what occurred during typical work days. These reports indicated how often space typical work days. These reports indicated how often space typical work days. These reports indicated how often space was utilized, what time of day room usage peaked, the aver- age time people spent at their desks, and what type of work age time people spent at their desks, and what type of work they were doing, as well as average meeting sizes and meeting they were doing, as well as average meeting sizes and meeting locations. The fi ndings emphasized the importance of technology for The fi ndings emphasized the importance of technology for staff collaboration, the challenges associated with high vacancy staff collaboration, the challenges associated with high vacancy staff collaboration, the challenges associated with high vacancy staff collaboration, the challenges associated with high vacancy areas, the need for increased mobility, and the low demand areas, the need for increased mobility, and the low demand areas, the need for increased mobility, and the low demand for formal conference rooms. With this information, Gensler designed a pilot workplace that included a mix of seating: dedicated, shared, overfl ow, and reservable. The program dedicated, shared, overfl ow, and reservable. The program included low tables surrounded by soft seating for informal included low tables surrounded by soft seating for informal collaboration and focus time. The idea was to provide a place collaboration and focus time. The idea was to provide a place for people to work comfortably, a place where they could put their feet on the table and work with their laptops on their laps. To test the effectiveness of the new design, we conducted laps. To test the effectiveness of the new design, we conducted an activity survey (observation, again) of the pilot space. an activity survey (observation, again) of the pilot space. an activity survey (observation, again) of the pilot space. an activity survey (observation, again) of the pilot space. The results of the activity survey made it clear that the low The results of the activity survey made it clear that the low The results of the activity survey made it clear that the low tables were not being used as designed, but it wasn't imme- diately clear why. By soliciting feedback (interactive), we discovered that employees felt uncomfortable putting their feet on the tables, resulting in these areas not being used at all. To account for this, we revised the design program to feature a all. To account for this, we revised the design program to feature a all. To account for this, we revised the design program to feature a all. To account for this, we revised the design program to feature a all. To account for this, we revised the design program to feature a all. To account for this, we revised the design program to feature a all. To account for this, we revised the design program to feature a different type of soft seating with higher tables. After we imple- different type of soft seating with higher tables. After we imple- different type of soft seating with higher tables. After we imple- different type of soft seating with higher tables. After we imple- different type of soft seating with higher tables. After we imple- different type of soft seating with higher tables. After we imple- mented these changes, we observed the space again and found mented these changes, we observed the space again and found a positive increase in the use of the space. Once the space proved to be effective, the revised design was rolled out to a proved to be effective, the revised design was rolled out to a proved to be effective, the revised design was rolled out to a larger segment of the portfolio. larger segment of the portfolio. By observing and adjusting to actual usage patterns, the By observing and adjusting to actual usage patterns, the client was able to avoid the cost and frustration of rolling out client was able to avoid the cost and frustration of rolling out client was able to avoid the cost and frustration of rolling out client was able to avoid the cost and frustration of rolling out a non-optimized design program. The revised design also included light sensors (passive) over each desk and in all included light sensors (passive) over each desk and in all included light sensors (passive) over each desk and in all offi ces, conference rooms, huddle rooms, and other com- mon areas. While the primary purpose of light sensors is to mon areas. While the primary purpose of light sensors is to mon areas. While the primary purpose of light sensors is to conserve energy, they also can passively capture data about conserve energy, they also can passively capture data about conserve energy, they also can passively capture data about space utilization, providing on-going utilization monitoring to space utilization, providing on-going utilization monitoring to space utilization, providing on-going utilization monitoring to indicate which spaces are underutilized or in high demand. indicate which spaces are underutilized or in high demand. Combining these three data-collection methods, quantita- Combining these three data-collection methods, quantita- tive and qualitative data were combined to inform an effective tive and qualitative data were combined to inform an effective tive and qualitative data were combined to inform an effective strategy and build a case for change. By listening to feedback strategy and build a case for change. By listening to feedback strategy and build a case for change. By listening to feedback and capturing utilization and activity data about space usage, and capturing utilization and activity data about space usage, and capturing utilization and activity data about space usage, the client was able to implement a mobility strategy and a new the client was able to implement a mobility strategy and a new the client was able to implement a mobility strategy and a new the client was able to implement a mobility strategy and a new the client was able to implement a mobility strategy and a new workplace design to accommodate the needs of staff and its workplace design to accommodate the needs of staff and its projected growth. The resulting workplace design accommo- projected growth. The resulting workplace design accommo- dates a 135 percent increase in occupancy while retaining an effective work environment. The client is continuing to use effective work environment. The client is continuing to use effective work environment. The client is continuing to use these methods of data collection to analyze other locations in these methods of data collection to analyze other locations in its portfolio and make informed decisions. its portfolio and make informed decisions.

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