Measuring costs money, therefore measuring typically doesn’t happen.
Decisions are often, as a consequence, based on blind faith. Or ignorance.
In the course of a year how many completed workplace projects will have a post-occupancy study carried out on behalf of the client? I don’t have the answer, but I imagine it will be on the low side.
If, as we are being told in report after report, that the past 9-months have accelerated change in the workplace then the next year, more than ever before, is the time to collect data from completed projects where the client has taken the bold step of committing to the future office (whatever that might be).
Where before a change from one desk per person to a 6:10 desk-sharing ratio was seen as extreme, it’s now a real possibility for many forward-thinking organisations who have invested in the technology and have the leadership with the mindset to embrace and fully support blended or hybrid working patterns.
For those who might not be willing to make that leap, for practical reasons such as budget (change can cost money) or a fear of change itself, we need evidence to support our thinking and to show clients what is possible and what the potential benefits might be.
As buildings become smarter, there will be quantitative data generated by sensors (room utilisation etc.) but it is the more qualitative type of data that is necessary to understand how people reacted, how perceptions of personal and team productivity changed and ultimately whether the change was too ambitious or not ambitious enough. We need to capture the workplace stories (“stories are data with spirit” to quote a recent webinar speaker).
To go even further, I would say there is a definite case for workplace consultancy firms to heavily promote such studies, and there may also be a very good case for consultancy firms allocating sufficient resource to carry out these studies 6-months down the line if the client has flat-out refused to pay. We shouldn’t have to say “put it down as a Marketing overhead” however, it’s a fundamental part of how we learn.
Ultimately, if the data is positive the client has won, and the consultants have won. For the client, a positive outcome will be a vindication of the time and effort involved and can be used to support future change. For the consultant team, ‘revisiting the scene of the crime’ shows that we care about our work, that we don’t just walk away once the final accounts have been closed off, and that we want to continually learn and refine our process.