TA sits down with Vincent le Noble, founder and CEO of Measuremen. Their goal is to improve the work environment worldwide by providing data on the actual use and the human behavior within the work environment.
Well, it’s relevant because, in terms of productivity, you need to know what’s going on inside your office. The work we do delivers insight into how people use their workplace. It helps create an objective discussion on how we can improve the workplace, make it more satisfying, more engaging and a more productive environment as a whole.
Time utilisation studies have been around for a long, long time; I think since the industrial era. We see a change in the type of studies that are being done; from time utilisation studies to occupancy studies and now much more into activity analysis. We already see that there is going to be a huge demand for a more personalised study so that we can see how you as an individual are using your workplace.
The data we collect is being used by decision-makers to improve their workplace. Every organisation is different from another. You might have a large percentage of extroverted people or a lot of people that have external jobs, like sales people. Now, the insights will give you the opportunity to change your fit-out and act accordingly for your type of organisation.
When we are conducting our surveys, a lot of objection is being found with us walking around and people thinking that we are checking up on them. But we are logging activities and workplace types, so there is no privacy issue there. We have all these GDPR rules that make sure that all the data is anonymous. So as long as we inform and communicate what you are collecting, what you are doing, but also share the outcomes with the people that you collect the data from, this makes them understand why you make certain changes. The insights from these measurements create added value for the employees so they are more likely to share the information with their peers or management in order to improve their workplace.
So next to our workplace maturity model, there are four pillars which have different sets of data that can be compared. So the first pillar is the capacity of a workplace. That is just the amount of chairs, the amount of meeting rooms, the amount of desks that you actually have at hand. That gives you and insight into what it is that you are providing to your employees.
The second pillar is the functional needs. This is derived from score cards or organisational charts or HR plans. It is just about which processes, systems and activities are being done.
Now these two pillars are the hard side of an organisation. On the other side, the two pillars are much softer. They are about workplace preferences; what people think they need and what people want to use in their office.
The last pillar is about what works best for them. This last pillar measures their personal characteristics and combines that information with the ratings on certain workplace types.
If these pillars differ from each other – for instance, the functional needs [of the second pillar] ask for more collaboration space than we actually have at hand in the first pillar – then we need to create these types of workplaces. But it can also mean that we have people who have this workplace preference that differs from the functional needs. So, we need to look at the processes, the activities and the systems [to see] if we need to change that to facilitate or support our employees.
My personal favourite is rating your workplace in relation to your personal characteristics. I believe that is the most interesting part. Looking at what makes you tick, what it is that you need in your workplace and facilitating or supporting that specific need by creating an atmosphere and environment that is not only catered to one individual but to the group as a whole, to the benefit of the organisation.
Definitely. There are a lot of people who believe that with occupancy and utilisation studies being done, we can just get more people into buildings and have a very efficient type of workplace. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. So people need a little bit of space to perform at their best. So there is this area where you cannot get anymore efficient in terms of less space and more people in there.
Don’t be afraid to give away a little bit of the data about how you’re using the work environment. Giving away this data can be used to change your work environment for the better. It gives you the insight that is needed. We’re not here to steal your privacy.
We’ve seen a lot of trends in terms of occupancy and utilisation in relation to personal characteristics. We’ve seen a lot of people who have managerial positions or are much more extroverted use the collaboration spaces a lot more than the people who are much more blue or analytical, who tend to use concentration booths or use headphones to shelter themselves from acoustics.
We’ve been using i Beacon technology to locate where people are. We can actually count the amount of social interactions between people. So we can count the amount of times someone from sales is sitting in a meeting with someone from marketing. Now, the most interesting part of that is that we can actually see which departments communicate and where this communication takes place.
The workplace of the future is a much more fluent workplace. So it can be a desk that is easily converted, or even automatically converted, to a collaboration space or a meeting space. But also, it gives you the privacy and comfort to do highly concentrated, individual work. So, fluency is probably the keyword in the workplace of the future.
I wish that the inconveniences of commuting or working from home could be taken away. So you could stay at home but still have the same social interaction with your colleagues needed to perform at your best.
So, I honestly believe that we get the most out of social interaction. Meeting face to face – being able to hear, feel, even smell, your colleagues – gives you a much better bonding. By doing something together, working as a team creates a much more productive organisation.
You need to create a “clubhouse” to engage your employees, to create an image and brand of your organisation that people feel attracted to. That will help you have a satisfying work-life and thus have a great work-life balance.