MEREDITH Strategy + Design

We design the places and spaces where people come together to do great work

Filtering by Tag: metrics

Metrics shmetrics

I am very appreciative of the ongoing shift in the metrics that matter to corporate real estate. I sense that among those responsible for providing work settings there is a growing appreciation of the importance of the variety of settings that people need to fulfill the purpose of the organization.

A good illustration of this value migration is the data presented in this article. Using better terms than the I/we personalization framework of the furniture industry, the data is built around a workplace activities framework of concentration, collaboration, and community.

via Work Design Magazine

via Work Design Magazine

3. From MPG to ?

The primary measure of the efficiency of the car, and a significant factor in its design and engineering, is miles per gallon. In the physical world, however, there are many other costs associated with the design of the automobile – widths of streets, breadths of intersections, sizes of parking lots and parking spaces, miles of highways, acres of interchanges, rights of way, sizes of storm sewers, etc. If we consider the costs of maintaining and operating all of this, including its environmental costs, how would the cost/mile of driving a car – more complete Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)metrics – be perceived?

We now legislate fuel efficiency, and the growing awareness of that measure in pocketbook and environmental costs causes a response in buying patterns from consumers and a response from car manufacturers in the engineering and design of their product. Similarly, food labeling, including not just ingredients but also nutritional information and, in some places, distance from origin information, is affecting consumer decisions and moving back up the supply chain to influence even how farms are managed.

How much else might change in the design of the car if all of these other infrastructural and environmental costs were a matter of commonly understood and shared information? For example, what would the infrastructure look like and what would it cost if cars had collision-avoidance/self-guidance systems, for example? Which is more expensive in TCO – technology or land?

What if the labeling on a car had all of its other cost “ingredients” listed? What if I understood that, on this car, the turning radius, parking requirements, and other physical impacts had a 20% higher infrastructural cost than another model?

2. From square feet per person to...?

I’m borrowing the 10 things concept to build an agenda of thinking for the next couple of months – my New Year’s resolutions, of sorts. Over the next few days, we’ll roll out one or two of these ideas in the hope that you’ll find something of common interest and choose to join the conversation…or even commission a study! Yesterday was the strip mall, today is workplace space.

This is the primary measure of corporate real estate cost, occupancy and utilization. It feels as if it does all the wrong things, however.

Work is mobile, agile, social, temporary, project-based, collaborative, multi-disciplinary, and more. Square feet per person implies a fixed condition, reinforces an entitlement, is predictive rather than responsive, reinforces rather than tempers demand, and measures consumption rather than production (that is, the products of the activities of the people in the space).

Most critically, this metric, as the primary subject of conversation in real estate, perpetuates a plan model that is increasingly obstructive to economic growth, and suppresses the achievement of the types of place and space that would most effectively serve the purposes and mission of companies and corporations.

There is a long distance between those who voice the purposes of organization and those who deliver its space. And the language of space makes that conversation even more abstract and obscure.

Now, in a time of significant excess space and declining rents, the language of real estate and the workspace loses even more meaning the longer it is based on area. Changing the lexicon of space, especially for its primary occupants, is a matter not only of economics, but of cities, innovation, productivity, engagement, and satisfaction that ought, it seems, point to an influence on GDP rather than local cost.

How can the language of real estate and workspace planning move from consumption to production and innovation? Which is the greater catalyst for innovation – the concept of what the workplace looks like and how it performs (illustrating and illuminating its metrics), or the measure of what takes place in the workplace (driving the brief that defines the design)?