The Leader Magazine

SEP 2017

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ThE lEadER SEPTEMBER 2017 61 month, that were "normal" – no trade shows, no holiday period, no school breaks, etc. Using computer activity as another indicator of offi ce- utilization patterns, we then selected two other normal weeks to monitor how often and when computers were used. Due to skills available in the company's computing environment, we were able to write a simple script to log every time a person on site touched a keyboard or mouse within a 15-minute period. Additionally, we captured similar login information through the remote servers for people working off site. Finally, I spent a few days at the site, walking each area four times a day and simply counting the number of occupied workspaces. While one could argue the accuracy or precision of each element, all three showed similar results and gave us confi dence in the overall occupancy pattern. After compiling and condensing the information, I met with the country manager to discuss implementing the fl exible-offi ce program. He began by telling me that this kind of program works in some other countries, but it wouldn't work (in his market) because his people didn't work like that. At that point I told him, "Actually, they do work like that," and presented the evidence. After just a few minutes of reviewing the data the conversation changed from "we won't do this" to "how do we best implement the program to support workers' productivity?" Interviewer: Larry, that's a great exam- ple of using what Frank calls "practice- based" research to inform decision- making. Yet, in an era where more data is always better, in your experience when is it overkill and/or unnecessary to spend the time, energy and money collecting the maximum amount of data before making a decision? LM: There is always a balance between speed and perfection, and there is no "right" amount of data to inform decisions. It is rare in the CRE world when we have enough time to research the "perfect" solution. In fact, there may be no such thing, but that is another discussion. The way I think about it is, if you are going to make a signifi cant change to people's work environment, the closer the workers are to the core of the business, the more formal and thorough the research that needs to be done. Enhancing the productivity of the core workers is paramount. An example would be changing the work environment for engineers at a tech company. Since engineers are the core of the business, depending on the magnitude of the change and the scale, I would consider engaging industrial anthropologists, researchers and, of course, a progressive architectural fi rm to interpret the research and develop the new solutions. Also, if the research program is organized properly, it can be used as a communications and change- management tool instead of trying to bolt these essential elements on after the research is done. For this hypothetical tech company I probably wouldn't go through this level of research for the fi nance, legal, and other corporate functions. It is not that they aren't important; it is just that there is more room for error. Said another way, loss of productivity here is less critical in the non-core parts of the business. Of course, most of the initiatives we deal with don't require the level of formal research, data-gathering and observation described above in the case of a new work environment for engineers in a tech company. For most routine changes I try to get at least two, and preferably three, different easily obtainable data points, or observations, to both validate the fi ndings as well as address possible objections. Thank you to our Global Learning Partners Thank you to our Awards Sponsors Economic Development Agency H. Bruce Russell Global Innovator's Award:

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