Corporate Culture & Productivity

Measuring efficiency in the workplace: tips for the hybrid office

CJ Frey
December 21st, 2022

Measuring efficiency in the workplace has never been more important or more challenging. As companies embrace hybrid work and a variety of new flexible workplace strategies, they need to understand how any changes they make impact company productivity and the bottom line. 

When measuring productivity, companies typically have one of two goals (or both) in mind:

  1. Right-sizing their real-estate portfolio, to either save money or accommodate growth
  2. Enhancing employee experience in order to improve collaboration, productivity, and talent attraction and retention efforts

Assuming they have the right tools on hand, facility managers (FMs) and other space planners can collect critical productivity metrics that measure employee productivity and workplace efficiency. In this article, we explore measuring efficiency in the workplace, along with the best approaches and metrics to do so in a hybrid workplace.  

Panel Discussion

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Measuring efficiency in the workplace: 7 essential approaches to a better hybrid office

An organization’s goals for their work environment will largely dictate what metrics they track. For example, measuring employee efficiency is quite different than measuring whether space is being used efficiently. 

Ideally, companies will be collecting a wide range of real-time data on many aspects of efficiency. As the pandemic has taught us, workflows can change on a dime. The more data a company has on both space and employee performance, the better they’ll be able to maintain overall productivity. Even in the face of change. The following seven approaches in particular can help in this process. 

Workplace analytics are essential to implementing any new workplace trends, especially those adopted to increase the level of productivity. 

Understanding data around work patterns, office use, employee engagement, and other performance indicators can help decision makers to understand what’s happening on the ground. And understanding what’s happening is ultimately key to improving it. 

Especially if companies want to adopt new strategies like hot desking, hoteling, or activity based working, they will need baseline data before they’re implemented. Armed with this data, they can benchmark whether any changes actually turn out to be improvements.

2. Workplace data: 5 reports for long-term space planning metrics

Companies looking to use workplace data to improve and measure efficiency will need data reports in the following areas:

  • Real estate
  • Space allocation
  • Occupancy
  • Desk and room bookings
  • Workplace trends 

This data is best collected from the flexible working software that can simplify project management as well. 

3. Advanced workplace analytics: how to use data in a hybrid office 

Measuring efficiency in a hybrid office requires advanced workplace analytics. Simple workplace data may still work for traditional offices with straightforward seating arrangements. But companies adopting hybrid schedules and/or trying to foster more employee autonomy need data that is integrated from multiple sources, to account for rising complexities.

“The dimensions of how people are using the office have changed dramatically,” says Kathleen Williams, Senior Product Manager at OfficeSpace. “And without advanced workplace analytics tools, people won’t have a good idea of how to see what’s actually happening in their workplace.”

4. Hybrid workplace technology: 7 essential tools 

Again, due to the complexity of a hybrid workplace, measuring efficiency will likely require special hybrid workplace technology. Simple time tracking apps and time tracking software aren’t really up to the challenge. 

Specifically, the following tools can help optimize a flexible workplace, while also helping measure (and improve) team productivity:

The impact of technology in the workplace is most beneficial when companies use the right hybrid technology to improve all aspects of work. This technology needs to improve the workday for individual employees, while also preventing data silos. Armed with the right technology, FMs can spend less time collecting data… And more time using it to help meet long-term business goals. 

“My advice to companies is that you can’t rely on just one source of data. Unstructured data won’t cut it anymore,” says Williams. “You need to bring your large datasets together to truly solve business problems.” 

5. Facilities reporting: how to leverage the right data to create a better workplace

Companies looking to get the most out of their data will need to create a facilities reporting schedule that is in line with their long-term goals. The right facilities report will help ensure that their ratio of output is meeting (and hopefully exceeding) expectations. 

A facilities report is essentially a document that breaks down how different aspects of a facility any/or office are performing over a given period of time. Typically created by FMs, these reports can be used by leadership and other decision makers to improve labor productivity and the physical work environment. 

6. Facility checklist for preventative maintenance

Similar to facilities reporting, a facility checklist can help an FM stay on top of their own efficiency. The number and complexity of FM responsibilities has been rising along with the new complexity of the hybrid workplace. Creating a checklist to stay on top of time management and specific tasks can help ensure FMs are always hitting their targets. 

7. Smart buildings: IoT data and real estate

Finally, smart buildings with IoT can be an incredibly useful approach to measuring efficiency and productivity in the workplace. Self-reporting and other metrics will always be important, of course. But these metrics work best when used in conjunction with hard data pulled from technology. When multiple smart sources are combined with other data, companies can have much greater confidence when it comes to real estate portfolio management and making key corporate real estate (CRE) decisions. 

Specifically, the following three smart data sources can help improve both short and long decision making. 

  • Occupancy sensor technology: everything you need to know

Occupancy sensors measure the number of employees and other people occupying a given area, using a variety of approaches. They’re essentially upgraded motion sensors for a smart workplace, often installed to help companies improve both their energy bill and their space utilization in general. 

  • IoT sensors: powering the smart office of the future

IoT sensors can also measure a lot more than occupancy alone. They can also be used to track desk and meeting room use, parking lot use, air quality, overcrowding, and energy use (among many others).  

  • Employee badge data: get hybrid right with the right data

Employee badge data is another smart data source for the modern office. Essentially, employee badges are typically small cards that employees swipe to gain access to different areas or resources in the office. When they do so, they help companies collect invaluable data about how they’re actually using the office space. 

As with all IoT data, employee badge data works best when it is housed within a cloud-based IWMS system. The right system will also integrate this data into actionable workplace reports and analytics for all stakeholders involved. 


KPI: 8 facility management metrics FMs should track for the hybrid office

KPIs in facility management are the metrics you should track to measure efficiency in the workplace. KPIs (short for ‘key performance indicators’) are specific metrics that can help an organization understand how well it’s meeting its strategic goals. 

The following KPIs are some of the most important for creating a productivity formula for the office. 

1. Office density: How to leverage data to make informed decisions

Office density measures how many people are using a given space during a given time. It is essential for improving the hybrid workplace experience

2. Room capacity: How do you calculate room capacity for hybrid work?

Similarly, room capacity measures how many people can safely use a given space, making it a critical metric when looking to increase density without sacrificing employee health and productivity. 

3. Space optimization: streamlining your workplace

Space optimization is about creating a space that is as efficient and affordable as possible. Understanding how well your space is optimized (and then improving it) can lead to cost savings, agility, growth opportunities, improved employee experience, and a more modern workplace overall. 

When a company embraces flexible working, their recommended office space per employee is liable to shift and change over time.  As such, FMs will need to track this metric to ensure that everyone has the space they need (without spending too much on their real estate portfolio, either). 

5. What does occupancy rate mean and how can you improve it?

Like the name suggests, occupancy rate refers to the actual occupancy (i.e.: people in a space) during a given time period. Real estate expenses are typically one of a company’s biggest expenses. So understanding this KPI and improving it is essential for improving efficiency in the workplace. The best way to improve your occupancy rate (and, ideally, your productivity) is to combine this data with other data to create a fuller picture of office use. 

6. Workplace agility traits

While it can be more complicated to quantify, measuring your workplace agility is key to measuring your efficiency. The ability for employees to move and adjust quickly and easily to change is essential to staying productive in a rapidly changing workplace and business environment. Improving workplace agility can lead to more productivity, higher engagement, faster time to market, and improved talent attraction and retention. 

7. Hot desking productivity: How to improve your desk sharing strategy

Measuring hot desking productivity can help give a window into overall productivity in the workplace. Simply offering hot desking as an option isn’t enough. In order for this new flexible seating strategy to work, FMs and other space planners will need to develop KPIs to ensure they’re adequately measuring how well it is working, too.

8. Workplace wellbeing: Tips to improve wellbeing at work

Employees who are experiencing burnout are employees who will struggle to be productive, making workplace wellbeing a critical metric for measuring efficiency in the workplace. Smart companies today are addressing workplace health with a variety of wellbeing initiatives (often in partnership with human resources). FMs in turn may be tasked with tracking workplace experience, sometimes with an Employee Experience Index, to determine how well any initiatives are actually hitting the mark. 


Facility planning: 3 strategic approaches to a better office

Ultimately, creating and monitoring efficiency in the workplace requires good facility planning. This is the systematic process used to ensure the office and the facility at large is helping to meet short and long term business goals. It requires companies to realistically assess the efficiency of their current space — and then make plans to improve it. 

Strategic facility planning is crucial for all types of companies (even small businesses with small real estate footprints). The following can assist in the process. 

1. Headcount planning for a distributed workforce

Headcount planning has always been critical to business success. Hybrid work tends to lead to distributed work, as workers are working from the office, from home, and everywhere in between. To account for headcount planning in this new dynamic landscape, decision makers and FMs will need to take the following steps:

  • Assess current business needs and measure current efficiencies
  • Assess current employees and their existing skill sets
  • Make goals and plan for future needs
  • Determine what skills you will need from your workforce as you move to meet those goals and needs
  • Determine the staffing positions you’ll need to meet those skills

2. CRE data and how to use it to right-size your real estate portfolio

CRE data is critical to improving efficiency and ensuring companies aren’t paying more for their space than they need to. It can also be incredibly useful during times of growth. This is typically when companies are debating whether or not to invest in more real estate. 

Companies can gain powerful insights into the efficiencies of their offices by collecting multiple types of CRE data. Specifically, it’s when they combine lease and traction data, along with space usage data, they can start to build a more complete picture of office use and demand. 

“You need different data sources that can triangulate with one another to see what’s really happening in the workplace,” says Williams. “The right data should provide visibility beyond resource booking alone, into a truer picture of employee presence in the office.” 

3. How to use a lease management system to improve operations

Finally, a lease management system can help simplify all these processes, by combining all important real estate data in one place. 


The most successful workplace teams 

The most successful workplace teams are those where all team members are given the tools they need to be productive, efficient, and engaged. This will look different for different teams and workplaces. But the constant is that companies need to keep their focus on team unity by embracing the right collaboration strategies in the workplace and fostering an inclusive company culture

Creating an efficient workplace is about recognizing that quality of work goes hand-in-hand with team cohesion. Providing access to good spaces and resources always works better than demanding employees hit a mindless daily quota or sit in front of the right desk for an arbitrary amount of time. 

In short, measuring efficiency in the workplace isn’t just about crunching numbers. It’s about taking a holistic approach to facility management and optimizing employee time at work — without sacrificing productivity in the process. 

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Photos: RossHelen, monkeybusinessimages, jacoblund, jacoblund