RESOURCE: How to Evaluate the Success of Office Design

Last week, we looked at some general information about cost/benefit analysis and office design. In order to keep that discussion going, it will be helpful to have some tools in hand for evaluating the success of office design.

In one study, Knoll essentially defines the goal of office design as being an “…to create office work settings that positively influence desired work behaviors and employee performance.”

Why Evaluate?

  • Like any large purchase, if you’ve spent a large sum on office design, you want to protect the integrity of the space and your investment by reducing possible problems.
  • It can also help you optimize your office space to peak performance by allowing you to understand the particular needs of your employees. And if your workspace is meeting them.

How To Evaluate

Start by creating a “workplace balanced scoreboard” of metrics. These metrics should be relevant to the intentions of the design and the organization’s business objectives. Include measures that reflect financial, behavioral, work process, health or other outcomes pertinent to the business.

“Less is more.” Select the fewest, highest impact measures possible. Do not collect data unless you know in advance exactly how you plan to use it. Double check to make sure it relates to your Workplace Balanced Scoreboard.

Establish Baseline Measures. Baseline measures establish a reference point against which you can assess the success of changes made to the workplace over time.

  • Use a survey to measure employees’ perceptions of behaviors related to project goals, such as comfort, degree of collaboration, quality of group decision-making, etc.
  • Collect objective metrics from other sources, such as HR databases for attraction and retention rates, health claims rates and costs, or other metrics that are related to financial outcomes.

Collect data on an ongoing basis (quarterly or semiannually). This will provide an ongoing stream of objective information that can keep the workplace design aligned with employee needs and business goals.

Keep the reports simple. This will enable everyone to understand the results and thus be able to act on them.

Remember to manage the “human side” of the project. A technically successful assessment program can still fail if people don’t buy in to the effort. Thus to assure the support and engagement of employees within the organization, ensure that everyone understands the purpose, approach and benefits of the program.