Office Design

Facilities Management Tips: Survey Writing

David Spence
August 25th, 2014

Surveys That Work

1. Keep It Simple

Your coworkers are busy. They’re more likely to fill out a survey that’s quick and easy, rather than one that goes on for pages and pages. Think about the most important things you want to ask them about—I’ve written about possible questions here—and keep your survey focused on those topics. According to SurveyMonkey, surveys with the highest response rates only take 5 minutes to complete.

2. Limit Yourself to One Idea Per Question

On a similar note, be sure each question is just one question, and not two, as in “What sort of office layout do you find the most interesting and suited to your work needs?” Of course, it’s likely that some respondents will consider an office that’s interesting and best suited to their personal working style one and the same thing. However, there may be a few for whom the two aren’t mutually exclusive, and they may answer only part of the question, focusing on either an interesting office, or an office that’s suited to how they work.

3. Use Clear Language

If your questions are worded ambiguously, you may get mixed results that don’t reflect the respondents’ actual opinions. Have a few coworkers take a look at the survey before you send it out; ask them if any question is confusing or unclear. Also avoid the use of industry jargon. If your coworkers encounter a term that only maintenance or facilities would know, the question will be rendered useless. How can they answer a question when they don’t understand what it’s asking?

4. Prioritize Questions

Forbes writer Micah Solomon advises starting with general questions, such as “How would you rate your satisfaction with facilities overall?” The response to the general questions, says Solomon, is “the single most important rating, and should reflect a gut reaction.” If you ask point-specific questions first, followed by a general question, you’ll be losing insight into that gut reaction.

5. Include a Write-in Field

Your survey should include a field at the end of the survey for any comments or concerns not covered in your questions. This can be helpful for gathering qualitative information. It may also highlight an area of weakness or excellence in the department that you weren’t even aware of while creating the survey.

6. Send Reminders

It’s highly likely that your coworkers will see the survey request in their email and have every intention of filling it out—but then forget about it. Send out a reminder email every now and then to those who haven’t responded. This can be an effective tactic for increasing your overall response rate.

Surveys are an excellent way to see whether you should be doing things differently. Whether you’re measuring your coworkers’ satisfaction with the maintenance team or seeing how they think the office could be improved, surveys are a valuable resource in helping you do your job better.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at