Every single workplace professional I speak to these days, I ask the same question: “What is your most important workplace metric?” We all know numbers tell the tale and here at Measuremen, we believe we can help our customers improve their work life worldwide by providing them with decision making data. And that’s why I’m looking for the most important number, ratio or metric. I would like to share some of the responses I got, that led to great dialogues about the importance of workplace metrics. Please feel free to respond and provide your vision on the matter.
Just like IFMA’s Workplace Evolutionaries, we are tapping into ideas and professionals from all around the world. And since there are so many sources to derive information from, please share any links you find that are connected to the subject. I’ll be sharing some of the insights my talks have provided, and tag some of the people helping in the conversation.
No. 1. workplace metric by far! If it’s not because of the current pandemic that introduced us to social distancing, just as strong is the need for engagement and experience. Of course, Employee Experience was already a major topic before Covid-19, often combined with Hospitality and many service propositions. Employee engagement is much stronger in relation to wellbeing and creating sustainable organizations. In relation to the main question of this blog, it was often referred to as employee satisfaction. But there is an important nuance in this metric.
Let’s say we measure employee satisfaction and employee engagement on a ten-point scale. A seven in both is like comparing apples to oranges, seeing both definitions. When looking at the Oxford dictionary we find: “An arrangement to do something or go somewhere at a fixed time” best-describing the word engagement for our line of work (unless you’re about to get married). “Fulfilment of one’s wishes, expectations, or needs.” is Oxford’s description of the word satisfaction.
Seeing the definition of Experience “An event or occurrence which leaves an impression on someone.”, makes a great combination of the two former definitions and lets us address the most important metric as “Employee Experience, the willingness to do something, somewhere, feeling supported in one’s needs and feeling positively impressed!”. The force is definitely strong in this one!
Work-Seats to Collaboration-Seat Ratio
A second workplace metric that popped up multiple times was the work to collaboration seat ratio. This ratio provides insight into the different tasks anyone performs, related to individual or collaborative work. Everyone I spoke with about this subject, expects a great change in this in the coming years. The pandemic or Working From Home (WFH) certainly had a great part in this transformation, but we mustn’t forget that Activity Based Working (ABW) was already about these completely different work settings. Unfortunately, efficiency goals made ABW part of cost-saving, putting unnecessary pressure on cost control and occupancy improvement.
Back to this metric. We all know certain tasks need different work settings. The biggest differentiator is felt in collaborative work versus individual (or better yet concentration) work. This is why at first, WFH had a positive effect on productivity. People were less interrupted by colleagues or other daily operations until a distraction from family members (kids or partners), or lack of facilities (ergonomics and private space) started to creep in.
In the second phase of WFH, we found out that collaboration is greatly supported by technology such as video conferencing, but at the same time was causing burn-outs because of back2back meetings without taking any rest or breaks. People were missing the social interaction around meetings and operational tasks. The need for “casual collisions” (as Netflix’s Workplace Manager Frans van Eersel called it) grew and is currently one of the hot topics in any change program.
The office experience
So next to providing a safe work environment that can match the definition of Employee Experience, the office still plays an important role in our working life. But it should be measured differently, or at least with a different output in mind! Instead of looking at it from a cost-efficiency point of view, it should be more about attracting people to experience a great way to work. Measure occupancy in the workplace based on; 1) the willingness to come into the office; 2) provide the support needed to perform certain tasks; or 3) (best case scenario) experiencing a better working life. Work settings are then at their optimal for individual and collaborative work, both in the office and while WFH.
Keep in touch and experiment!
In conclusion, we can state: “keep experimenting and continue your conversation with your customers/workers/employees”. It is of the utmost importance to keep a tap onto employees and learn about what keeps them busy and what’s on their minds to keep them engaged. It’s numbers that tell the tale! So make sure you collect data on usage, preferences and feedback. A combination of those will give you the upper hand to face challenges and create a vision for the future.
Oh and of course reach out to other workplace professionals! Because 2 know more than 1, and I’ve found everyone very helpful and open to help improve work life worldwide!
Ciao for now!