There is overwhelming evidence that the workplace environment – the office building – impacts the health, well-being and productivity of its occupants. Sodexo/RICS 2015 research for example confirmed that an improved working environment has a direct positive impact on employees’ productivity.

With staff costs typically accounting for 90% of a business’ operating cost, anything that impacts the ability of workers to be productive should be a major concern for any organization. As obvious as this may sound, the reality is often different, with working environments that do not provide a good fit, let alone accommodate the changing expectations of modern-day workers around flexibility, collaboration and services.

There are a number of issues that affect an employee’s performance at work. From being unable to locate a suitable room to make a confidential client call to finding where colleagues are in the building, these avoidable issues result in wasted time and reduced productivity. Additional concerns for building users include temperature, air quality, noise and lighting. The World Green Building Council released a report in 2014 showing that these elements had a significant impact on user experience and satisfaction in the workplace. Being exposed to disturbing noise for example, leads to a drop in performance of 66%.

Focusing on user experience

In order to improve user experience, it is vital that facilities managers move from being reactive about issues to proactively anticipating and solving them. Three key areas to target and improve for the users are workplace design, service delivery, and user tools and interactions.

To be successful, managers are advised to follow three steps, beginning with measuring user satisfaction to determine where improvements are needed. This can be achieved by using a number of tools including workplace surveys (e.g. Leesman Index), analysing help desk complaints, and micro polling, i.e. encouraging building occupants to give instant feedback on their workplace experience with a ‘like’ or ‘dislike’, using ‘Facebook style’ push buttons.

After analysing the information available to them, facilities staff should then start managing drivers of satisfaction. By installing wireless sensors, they will gather real-time data, enabling them to target service delivery based on usage and activities within the building, and to optimize how people use the space. For example, a sensor showing a meeting room in use can trigger a work order for that room to be cleaned after the meeting has finished.

To maintain this focus on user experience and increase transparency, organizations should introduce mobile and web apps, smart displays and interactive kiosks. These interactive tools enable users to access the information collected by the sensors and use it to find out where there is an empty seat in the building or a meeting room that is ready to use.

Finally, after implementing this approach, managers should utilize deep analytics and data visualization to correlate sensor and back-office data and work proactively to improve user experience.

Multiple benefits

The use of sensors not only greatly improves user satisfaction but also the costs of building management. Sensors can save businesses 15% of cleaning costs, while workplace occupancy systems that help employees to find vacant seats faster can save an organization the equivalent of €10,000 per year in lost productivity.

We envisage that in the future, managing user experience will be significantly advanced, with facilities managers introducing virtual private assistants that will analyse individuals’ behavioural patterns and offer guidance on how best their needs can be anticipated and met. This kind of smart technology will be able to optimize a building for users like never before.

For more information about MCS Solutions’ workplace management sensors and how they improve user experience, please visit: https://www.mcssolutions.com/workplace-management/.