In elementary school, walking into your new classroom at the start of the school year was exhilarating. There were new spaces to explore that were designed for you and your classmates. In the hybrid workplace, you have an opportunity to make your employees feel that same sense of awe, curiosity, and excitement. Nailing the right spaces will improve the workplace experience and encourage employees to return. The challenge is that there’s no limit to the ways you might configure your space. You can select any mix of personal, collaboration, and social spaces. So how do you know which kinds of spaces are the best ones for your workplace? Here’s a foolproof way to uncover the right combination of spaces for your people.
1 - Spot preferences and trends
The first step to enticing employees to choose the workplace is understanding how they prefer to use it. The most accurate way to accomplish this is by tracking space analytics. You can do this via different space management tools. These tools will help you spot preferences and trends in how your employees work. They’re also key to justifying space changes and investments in workplace design. Here are some of the things you can track with space management tools and the challenges they will help you address:
- Where people like to work - This will show you which areas of the workplace are most in demand and which spaces you can improve.
- Desk placement and spacing - This will help you ensure there’s enough space to create socially distanced floor plans that will keep employees safe.
- Capacity and desk usage - This will help you provide the right number of bookable desks for your employees.
- Meeting room usage - This will ensure people have enough private spaces to take meetings.
Having data to back up your real estate decisions will ensure you can plan future space requirements with more accuracy. You can be proactive about acquiring new space and think long-term about your company's real estate portfolio. Just as important, data will help you make a solid case to key decision-makers for how you approach important real estate decisions.
2 - Survey employees
To make data more powerful, pair it with employee feedback. This will deepen your understanding of how people use the workplace and how you can improve it. Hearing from your people is also a great way to discover issues that may not appear in the data.For example, survey results may reveal that most people think meeting rooms are hard to find and a hassle to book. Worse, since they’re worried about finding a space for their meetings, many employees avoid the workplace. By digging into your room booking data, you’ll learn how many people are showing up to meetings. If no-shows are an issue, you can enable your room booking system to free up the room for someone else if no one checks in five minutes into the meeting.Here are some questions you can ask your people:
- What draws you to work on-site?
- What space types do you need to be productive while on-site?
- Which spaces do you use least? Why?
- Which spaces do you use most? Why?
- What do you enjoy most about being in the workplace? Least?
The results of the survey should reveal the space types employees need and desire. Survey employees on a regular basis—at least once a quarter—to ensure you have an up-to-date understanding of what makes the workplace enticing for them.
3 - Plan out your space
With the space usage data and results of your employee surveys, you can plan your hybrid workplace. Start with identifying your workplace space goals. The most common goal for hybrid workplaces is space efficiency. This means converting underused spaces into more sought-after ones. You should also focus on making the workplace an enjoyable place for employees to be. For example, you may aim to increase employees’ use of collaboration and social spaces in the workplace. The next step is to identify space planning constraints. Constraints will help guide your plans and ensure you’re building a workplace that meets the needs of your employees and business. Here are a few constraints to consider:
- Budget: what is your budget and how might that impact your investments and planning outcomes?
- Departmental and team needs: do certain groups have requirements in order to be productive? What are they?
- Square feet: how much wiggle room do you have? If you’re tight on space, consider which elements of the workplace can flex to serve more than one purpose.
Once you’ve defined constraints, list the changes you want to make. This can be as simple as creating a spreadsheet and listing every space you have on-site. Then track whether you want to make changes to the space or keep it as-is. Describe any changes you want to make and include important information like cost estimates and the reason you’re making the changes.—Getting your space right will probably take a few tries. Stay true to the process and don’t get discouraged. When you roll out changes to your space, monitor space analytics to see how people engage with it. Do the changes in how they use your space align with your goals? If the data shows progress, keep making incremental changes to your space to optimize it for your people. Continue to keep an eye out for their preferences and trends, too. Encourage your employees to share their feedback often. As you continue this process, your workplace will improve to meet—and even exceed—the expectations of your people.