Workplace Principle 1: Right-sizing
At a workplace, positioning data maps out how often different spaces are used by those at the office. Measuring employees’ positioning actually has more in common with an activity analysis – what they do over the course of a work day – than with attendance.
You can read more about the right-sizing principle and attendance measurement here and here. In this article, we’ll discuss why it’s important to measure positioning, how to do so, and how this information can help you build a unique workplace strategy.
Why measure positioning?
Measuring positioning is all about gathering data on where employees like to work from and for what activities. This practice is integral to the initial planning of an office.
Looking at positioning gives you a better understanding of space. For example, you shouldn’t consider empty desks a sign that they aren’t necessary. That’s because desks can be placed in an office not only for individual work, but to incentivise collaboration. It’s common for a positioning measurement to show that around 35% to 50% of all desks are being used at the time of each measurement. But there can be large differences in use within an organisation. For example, some employees like assistants and specialists who others are reliant on might be at the office more often than others.
How to measure positioning
Due to the variables mentioned above, positioning can be quite tricky to measure – not to mention time-consuming. There are sensors that can automatically sense when someone sits down at a desk or other work spot, but these can be rather costly. More often, positioning is measured through observation studies. Simply put, someone goes around the office and counts how many spots are occupied. Data should be collected for at least 10 days and at 20 different points. These points should be planned for the most active parts of the day, so avoiding lunch hours or other times when employees tend to take breaks. Measurement should also be taken during ‘normal’ work days, so not on a day when there’s a special activity planned.
Apart from desks, other spaces like bookable and un-bookable rooms, digital meeting rooms and more should also be measured, and should complement findings from programs that measure meeting room bookings.
Plan for the future
Positioning data should be used carefully when an office change also accompanies a change in the way of working. It might be misleading if you lean on it too much when deciding which spaces will be needed after the transformation. This is partially because the current spaces probably don’t satisfy employees’ needs in the way that the future office is intended to – traditional offices often lack adequate spaces for digital meetings, focusing, and collaboration – so it might not be indicative of what the business will need in the future.
Positioning data can be combined with attendance data, an activity analysis, and a physical environment analysis to plan for right-sizing the new office.
This article is based on the five principles for the development of a workplace strategy that we at WeOffice use to create bespoke workplace strategies. You can read more about them here.
References are taken from the book Workplace Strategy for the Flexible Office by Aram Seddigh. For more information on the book and workplace strategy in general, click here.
Seddigh, A. 2022. Arbetsplatsstrategi för det flexibla kontoret : metoder, verktyg och case med fokus på hybrid och aktivitetsbaserat arbetssätt, Stockholm, Blue Publishing.
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