At the organizational level, what is the impact of the kind of space you work in?
I've never been very impressed with the surveys used by most of the workplace "strategy" consultants we've worked with. There is always a component seeking some expression of a level of satisfaction with one's current workplace, and this is usually correlated with some set of factors deemed to be important to the productivity of the organization and the people who work there. But something is always missing.
There is a rather interesting and perhaps alternative assessment tool presented in the Harvard Business Review today, and accessible through the article about it, What Would Make You More Satisfied and Productive at Work. The assessment tool appears to be the front end of a research project intended to answer a number of questions about how the five factors (illustrated in my score above) most influence our experience of work.
The authors, leaders of The Energy Project, believe that " in a world of relentlessly rising demand, employers need to shift from trying to get more out of people to investing more intentionally in meeting their core needs. This means employees would be freed, fueled, and inspired to bring more of themselves to work."
Most other workplace design consulting tools seem to have specific values ("socialization") and general space types ("cafe") already assumed. There is little deliberation around the meaning of the scores, and there is an immediate rush by designers to adjust the planning of the workplace to new spatial metrics implied by the assessment tool ("we need to reduce our 'I' space by 25% to get up to the benchmark metric on 'we' space").
I like the Energy Project approach for what seems to the focus on the individual and the goal to uncover what it might take to change the level of engagement of people in an organization.
In our work, I am always interested in what the assessment data can tell us about how to adjust the design brief, the program of spaces and place where work takes place. I am however, most interested in how we might uncover insights to create what does not yet exist but might have unique value to the purpose of the organization and the ability of the people in the organization to find their place and contribute to it.
This is one reason for our "New Technical Workplace" framework. We have found no workplace assessment tool that steps out of the core template of "office" work to begin to comprehend the very unique and differentiated work of organizations with much more diverse work settings, work modes, and work practices.
Conventional understandings of "collaboration," for example, place white boards and soft seating in open areas in offices imagining that collaboration is a moment in time. Many of our clients in one sector, however, are engaged in million and billion dollar product development programs where collaboration is essential, durable and complex, and the office couch is but one tiny tool to apply to build meaning and significance, and long-term engagement and performance from the people of the organization.
Data is important to them, to give them the confidence that they are making a move of value for their organizations. Perhaps a tool like this that focuses on core needs can help answer the question they also ask – "At the organizational level, what is the impact of the kind of space you work in?"
If you take the assessment, let us know what you think about how it gets at considerations you consider important in your own workspace.