5 new metrics measuring the workplace

Companies are moving beyond traditional data to emphasize people

November 18, 2022

Companies are using new sources of data to measure the link between their offices and business objectives, a sign of ongoing efforts to adapt to hybrid working.

In the past, companies typically focused on the costs involved in operating their space. While that remains key for financial accountability, many companies are also starting to measure human experience in the workplace to better assess the ability and efficiency of their spaces to meet their employees’ needs.

The scope of measurement has expanded to consider different aspects of people’s experiences in the office, including collaboration with colleagues and even the noise levels around them.

“With employees being given greater flexibility about where and when they work, they’ve become the central focus around real estate performance,” says Andrew Hawkeswood, Director, Global Benchmarking Services, JLL. “The office must be able to step up to its role as an enabler for them to be productive.”

The emphasis on experience comes amid the transformation of workspaces to keep up with hybrid working, the prioritization of mental health and wellbeing, and the war for talent — all of which benefit from quality data for decision-making.

“Companies looking to bring the best out of their people have to ask deeper questions on the human experience and how it impacts performance at the workplace,” says Richa Walia, Director of Work Dynamics Research, EMEA, JLL.

But there’s no magic formula guaranteeing success.

“You can measure things really well and still fail,” says Hawkeswood. “What matters is that the metrics can link to your business objectives to help understand how you’re performing and that you’re delivering on what the business requires.”

Here are the five metrics that companies are implementing to assess their workplaces, according to JLL’s Metrics that Matter report

Employee engagement

The top metric to track is employees’ level of engagement with the workplace, JLL data shows. This can entail employees’ satisfaction levels of the work environment such as access to green spaces, choice and flexibility of working spaces, and wellness initiatives among others.

“You must first know whether the workplace meets or falls short of your employees’ needs and expectations before you can pinpoint what’s working and what’s not,” says Walia.

This has become particularly important since the pandemic, which disrupted how and where people work. Some employees have become so disengaged from the workplace that they are accused of “quiet quitting,” or doing the bare minimum to get by.

“The idea of tracking engagement is to gather intelligence capturing these issues, which allows you to then identify fixes to address them before they become a bigger problem, like quiet quitting,” says Hawkeswood.

Attrition rate

Another metric that offers valuable insights is a company’s attrition rate.

The common way to measure this is through exit surveys where employees are asked how factors such as work environment, location, and flexibility of work influenced their decision to leave the job.

As the war for talent intensifies, the attrition rate for a company has evolved beyond a human resources (HR) metric to include real estate, and even technology, Walia says.

“What we’re trying to gauge through this metric is the importance of real estate and trying to create a link between attrition rate and the workplace environment,” she says.

Indoor environment quality

Indoor environment quality measures elements such as air quality, temperature, and sound.

For instance, acoustics — the lack of sound privacy and excessive internal noise levels — is identified as the most underdelivered aspect of the human experience at the workplace, according to JLL’s Hybrid Work Decoded report.

“Employees are struggling to calibrate what tasks they do at home and in the office because they’re used to being able to control the home working environment,” says Hawkeswood. “But the environment in the office may not be delivering what they need for those types of work such as collaboration spaces or quiet spaces for concentration away from people.”

Understanding employees’ preferences of the office environment will therefore help companies create more conducive spaces for them, says Hawkeswood.

The right space for the task

With more employees returning to the office, the types of spaces available in the office have become a big deal for employees.

“The office is seen as a hub for collaboration and social interaction, but there has to be a wide variety of spaces that cater for focused work, collaborative work and physical work,” says Walia.

For instance, up to 47% of employees surveyed by JLL find it more productive to do focused work at home rather than in the office. “But companies can't simply tell employees to go home and do all their focus work, and come to the office only for collaboration,” says Hawkeswood.

Tracking the availability of space options involves understanding the working patterns of employees before looking at the ratio of different space types to cater to those needs, he says.

Social cohesion when working remotely

Given the rise in hybrid working and, for some, a greater freedom to work away from the office, the connections and the way people collaborate across the organization are increasingly important.

Workplace metrics are not only measuring employees’ interaction with the office environment, but also with the people around them.

“The fear is that when there’s no loyalty and pride for the organization, employees will become more detached from their office,” says Hawkeswood.

“Analyzing how connected employees feel toward their team and their organization when working from home or remote locations has never been this critical.”

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