The workplace is primed for researchers to explore employee behavior and generations in response to their physical environment. However, the struggle is determining what type of research will be most beneficial and how to implement the research findings into the workplace.
Facilities professionals are concerned with three areas:
- Employee demographic & work style preference
- Facility function
Business leaders want to know how to maximize employee productivity while balancing their employee's work and life commitments.
What Do Employees Want?
Research has shown that employees want a greater choice over:
- Environment (when & where to work)
- Assignments (variety of jobs, tasks, and location)
- Technology (latest & greatest)
Researchers have been following the emerging generation and identified Gen-Z would likely be the most distracted generation in the history of the workplace.
Organizations have been narrowly focused on the millennial generation, and struggle to keep them beyond the 3-5 year mark. Gen-Z is poised to overtake the Millenial generation regarding the sheer number of employees in the workplace.
Gen-Z will bring an entrepreneurial spirit to the workplace, and some may have already had one business before they finish high school.
Employee productivity remains a problem to navigate in the modern day open plan environment. This issue affects all generations and creating a variety of spaces in the workplace increase employee's options for finding and identifying the best work environment for completing tasks.
Millenials enjoy a real community type of environment (like they had in college) while Gen-Z can work in that environment, but would prefer not to due to the distractions.
How Can Workplace Research Solve Facility Design Issues?
Simply put, it can focus your workplace efforts!
Research can and should include elements of employee engagement and inclusion, but it should not be limited to these. A holistic workplace should bring in supporting elements from environmental and cognitive sciences, psychology and sociology as well as architecture and urban planning.
The workplace should be viewed more from an urban planning perspective than from an island or one building. Today's workplaces are dynamic!
Here is a simple workplace situation. It contains the following spaces:
- (2) offices
- (4) individual desking units
- (3) huddle rooms/conference rooms
- (1) kitchenette / open collaborative space
Let's say a research team places sensors in each of these spaces and creates a custom phone app. Through the use of the custom phone app, the team can determine how each of the spaces is used and for how long.
Team members would log themselves into and out of spaces using the phone app or a wearable device. You would quickly answer two or three questions (15 sec max) and then go about your business.
Additionally, the research team can track a team members path of travel through the space to see where they are spending their time.
These types of research methods would allow researchers, designers, and facility planners to create spaces with specific design intents because of space analytics.
Facilities maintenance personnel could leverage the analytic data generated from the sensors to turn on specific HVAC requirements, control lighting or audio/visual equipment.
Collecting and analyzing data from the workplace is just the tip of the workplace iceberg. In the coming years, our workplaces will be able to share real-time utilization statistics with facilities personnel and guide designers to build the office of the future.
[reminder]Do you think it's possible to collect this type of facility data?[/reminder]
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