Hybrid working has put the spotlight on the role of the office and what it means to employees. As companies compete to attract, retain, and engage the best talent, the pressure is on to cultivate a top-notch in-office experience. Pizza parties and Friday happy hours are not enough. So, if you want to improve employee experience in the office, strategically, and sustainably, you need to capture these three metrics.
Who is Working Where, When and WHY
Nothing is worse than showing up to the office to sit on an empty floor and do Zoom calls. Or conversely, arriving, ready to work, and not being able to find a desk, parking spot, or any of the people you’d hoped to see that day. Getting the right people, in the right space, at the same time – and doing it without endless emails and slacks back and forth – is the foundation of improving the in-office experience.
Employees need to be able to see who is working where, when and coordinate schedules with one click. Teams need to be able to sit together but also not miss out on opportunities to cross collaborate with other departments. And it all needs to be captured as metrics so that leadership can understand the why behind employees coming into the office, and the work they want to do there.
If this feels like a complicated undertaking, it’s because it is. Google docs and shared calendars were a decent stop-gap solution for handling the logistics. But they leave out the all-important WHY of in-person work. Without the why, any attempt to improve the in-office experience long term will likely flounder.
Thankfully there are ways to coordinate the logistics for employees while also gathering the essential data employers need. Capella’s Platform for Hybrid Working is a great example of this type of technology. Their interactive map makes it easy and engaging for employees to find their colleagues and share schedules, and the back-end data, reporting, and heatmaps help employers understand the why of in-office work as well.
Space Utilization Data
Space utilization data is a close cousin to the “why” data we discussed above. It is a collection of data points that show HOW office space is being used, and how effectively. It considers individual office spaces, rather than the office as a whole.
When we look at how employees are using the office, and what spaces are most popular, we begin to build a data driven picture of what work employees are drawn to the office to do in person. Essentially their WHY for coming into the office.
And acting on this data is a strategic path to improving the employee experience and creating an office that is truly designed for hybrid working.
Here is a practical example from one of our own clients interested in improving employee’s in-office experience. They started tracking how their various office spaces, floors, and locations were organically being used by employees. What they discovered were two key points:
- Meeting rooms and collaborative spaces were consistently in high demand.
- They had much more space than they could fill on any given day.
This indicated to them that employees were most interested in coming into the office for in-person collaborative work. But given how much space they had it was common that employees would show up to a nearly empty floor when they booked a desk. And that disconnect between craving collaboration, and sitting alone in an office, would lead to fewer people making the effort to come in.
So, they acted on the data. By shutting down naturally underutilized parts of the office, and converting others to collaborative space, they made sure that employees were getting the experience in the office that they came for. And they could not have done this effectively without the data.
Oh, and as a nice added perk, they also were able to ultimately sublease 30% of their space and cut back on cleaning and heating expenses as well!
Office Occupancy and Drivers
The final piece of data needed to improve employee in-office experience is broader than the previous two. By measuring overall office occupancy, and tracking this over time, companies can see how much and how often their space is used. It also allows leaders to test and measure what events or drivers are most important to employees. And what they can do to impact employee experience in the moment.
For instance, did planning that last Friday’s happy hour actually matter to employees? Did more people come in as a result? When days that have events or perks are compared to previous occupancy trends, HR now can measure what types of employee events actually improve the in-office experience, and which are worth investing in.
Similarly, what other drivers may be impacting your overall occupancy that you need to foster if you want to boost the employee experience? If you are tracking occupancy, and organically see a spike on certain days different to the norm, investigate why. Another Capella client was seeing this happen across their data set and discovered that their highest occupancy were days when the executive leadership team were on site. They used this data to encourage leadership to be in the office regularly, and also to plan events and facetime for employees with their senior leaders on lesser occupied days.
As any senior people leader knows, a great employee experience doesn’t just happen. And with hybrid working shining the focus on the in-office experience, the stakes are higher than ever to get this right. By using data to understand and coordinate who is working where, when, and why, what areas of your space are most popular, and how all of these metrics can be used to create an environment that is welcoming, productive, and exciting, you set the stage for a great in-office experience and increased employee engagement.