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How to measure what matters in a data rich workplace.

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Companies are preparing for the return to work, but many are over preparing to measure everything, and underperparing to measure what matters.

The future workplace will be data rich, dynamic and a choice. This ‘return to work’ requires a change in people policy, IT standards and workplace design. This shift in workplace experience demands an integrated approach where teams across HR, IT and Real Estate work together. This work also requires new methods, roles, and work streams to ingest many points of data and make sense of what we’re seeing.  It will be important to measure the success of the workplace to ensure the physical workplace experience stays relevant. But most importantly, it requires a hard look at making sure organizations are not just focused on measuring everything, but measuring what matters most.

To ensure you measure what matters, here are 3 forecasts and frameworks to consider as you make your way forward:

  1. The future workplace will be data rich: Successful organizations will define clear questions and data streams to manage and understand workplace performance. 
    The ingest of workplace data is happening now, but it’s like drinking from a firehose. Today there are many ways to track aspects of your workplace experience. But for the HR, IT and Real Estate teams expected to track and coordinate these data streams can feel like data platform madness. The future will be about streamlining all of your spatial and behavioral data in one place rather than data silos. Similar to the kinds of apps and trackers we now have to measure our fitness, sleep and wellness performance, we will have integrated workplace platforms to register our workplace performance.
  2. The future workplace will be dynamic: Successful organizations will understand the flow of work experience as macro-trends and moments that matter.
    The workplace is a dynamic organism. Real estate, HR  and IT teams need to constantly check in and evaluate space needs- both on a micro-level: are spaces being used day to day? Which spaces get the most foot traffic? How do people connect & interact on an hourly, daily basis? And on a macro level: Are some locations growing or shrinking in population? Which locations are being leveraged the most? Are we steady in headcount but thinking about new ways of working? To understand where you are today and where your organization can go, measuring your space and people data can help reveal the forces behind your real estate performance and help you maximize the value per square foot of space. 
  3. The future workplace will be a choice: Successful organizations will actively manage workplace needs and metrics.
    The future of the workplace is about choice. The workplace will no longer be a default expectation, but rather it will need to pull people in with exemplar space and service offerings that help teams perform at their best. To create a workplace experience where employees want to ‘opt in’ requires an integrated approach to research, strategy and solution. The workplace is like a product in development- it will be under the watch of leaders, with the expectation that the cost of every square foot is proving its value. To tell the story of user needs and product market fit data will be critical to staying on top of employee expectations, business demands and real estate requirements.
    As the workplace shifts to an ‘opt in’ experience, so too will we shift the way we measure and evaluate our people and space needs. Pre-pandemic, managing workplace supply and demand needs was simple. With anticipated post-pandemic employee preferences for remote or hybrid work models, making an argument for the benefit of an in person workplace experience will become more complex.  Let’s examine this complexity through the lens of NEEDS, the INDICATORS desired, and the data collection or measurement METHODS used.