Productivity Heaven Series, Step 2


Step 2: Collect Data

The quality of data collected underpins the building performance approach and will have a strong bearing on the quality  of subsequent outcomes. By making full use of existing data where possible, you will minimise additional information  and work required. You will need information on:

  1. People – insights from building users
  2. Place – performance of the building
  3. Performance – measures of the company performance  against agreed metrics


In this part of the process, the information you collect should  be detailed and focussed as you are looking for performance  insights from the data.

Refer to any previous staff survey and mine this information  for anything relating to the working environment. If your  organisation conducts structured staff surveys such as the Leesman Survey to measure employee experience,  you can mine this data for lots of valuable insights too.

The Building User Survey (BUS) is sometimes used in post  occupancy evaluation and you should refer to it if available.  In addition, LCMB have designed a simple survey that forms  part of our building performance evaluation – speak to us for  more details. Finally, don’t be afraid to develop your own.

A: People

Talk to a diverse set of people to understand how they use  and perceive the building

1: Managers and team leaders

2: Human Resources

3: Customers and clients

1: Interview managers and team leaders

It’s crucial to understand how well the building works from a  manger’s perspective. For instance:

  • Is the building supporting the productivity, collaboration  and creativity of their teams?
  • What improvements do they think could advance their  teams’ performance?

One-to-one interviews work well for collecting this information,  using a semi-structured approach to capture insight from  different perspectives. Try and speak to managers from a  range of areas, including back-workplace functions and  delivery teams.

2: Human Resources

Interview staff from HR to understand what they feel are the  recruitment, and retention challenges, and if any building  issues may be contributing to sickness and absenteeism.  Some HR teams may have also done work on presenteeism  and have other employee datasets available.

A semi-structured interview approach works well.

3: Customers and clients

Most organisations will collect customer experience  insights. If your customers or clients visit your premises, it is  important you understand their overall customer experience,  particularly during their time on your premises. If there is no  information available on their experience of your facilities,  you can contact LCMB for some questions that you can use,  or develop your own customer experience questions.

B: Place

The chances are, data is already being collected in your  building. The challenge is how to find it, how to identify what  is relevant and how to assess if the quality of data is reliable.  The main sources of information are:

1.  Building management systems (BMS)

2. Indoor environmental monitoring devices

3. Occupancy and usage data

4. Insights from maintenance teams

5. Operation and control strategies

1: Building management systems (BMS)

Depending on the age and configuration of the BMS, data  may be held for anything from just a few days up to several  years. The first thing to do is establish what long-term data is available, then verify the quality: for instance – are sensors  in the right positions and do the numbers look sensible?

Where quality data is available, use a package such as Excel  to identify how much working time is spent in – and outside  of – acceptable levels of temperature, relative humidity, CO2 and other key environmental factors.

You can find guideline levels of key environmental factors  from CIBSE and other relevant organisations.

More often than not there will be insufficient data to draw firm  conclusions. This is when more detailed indoor environment  monitoring is recommended. Speak to us if you’d like more  detail on ideal productive conditions based on our work and research.

2:Indoor environment monitoring

In recent years, there has been rapid progress in technology  available to monitor and report on indoor environmental  quality parameters, including air quality, temperature,  humidity, light, noise, and other measures. Traditional  building management systems might have only one or two  sensors in a large open plan workplace, but it is now cost  effective to add more sensors to measure much smaller  areas. This will help you understand how each staff member experiences the environment.

Systems can be installed at low cost compared to traditional  BMS upgrades and scaled to suit any size of space.

Desktop software tools make access to the data simple and  easily produce reports on trends in the data. This makes it  far easier to collect comprehensive granular data about the performance of your buildings. This data can be used to  compare your performance to industry standards published  by organisations such as CIBSE and ASHRAE, and used to  identify if any changes to your workplace environment are  required to improve productivity.

3:Occupancy and usage data

Using space effectively is a key part of running a cost-  efficient building. Occupancy levels also have a direct impact  on the quality of the indoor environmental conditions. In  addition, one of the most important considerations for staff is to provide the right type of workspace and meeting rooms.

The internet of things (IOT) technology can now be used  to quickly and accurately capture workspace and meeting  space occupancy and usage data.

4:Insights from the maintenance teams

Engineers and estates teams who look after the building  on a day-to-day basis have a wealth of knowledge.

A walk-round the building with a representative of the team  will reveal a lot about the building performance and often  provides a very different picture to that gained from other  stakeholders. Key things to ask are:

  • What are the common issues within this building?
  • What common feedback do you get from staff?
  • Are there any problems with the plant and services?
  • What are the limitations of the BMS?
  • Are there any areas of the building which are particularly  problematic?

It is useful to do this after speaking to some of the more  senior stakeholders as these conversations offer an  opportunity to validate information from other sources.

5:Operation and control strategies

Often set points and control strategies for building  management systems are tweaked over time without  routine reviews to ensure optimum operating conditions are  maintained. This can lead to issues with the system setup.

As part of the building performance review, it’s important  to understand the current configuration to establish:

a) Should you reset any set points or times?

b) Can you do anything to improve the controls, either to save  energy, improve user comfort, or help the building run more  effectively?

You should carry out the review once you’ve analysed the  details of the indoor environment, so you know of any specific  issues to investigate in detail.

C: Performance

Agreeing performance indicators

In step 1, d of our process (detailed on page 14), you will  have worked with your stakeholders to draw up a relevant  set of performance metrics. You could review these with your  stakeholders to identify which performance indicators your  organisation already tracks.

Once you’ve done this, you can then get hold of this data to  look for a correlation between the workplace environment,  and these performance indicators. The most commonly  tracked performance indicators are:

1. HR metrics

2. Financial metrics around business performance

3. Utilisation data in workplaces where staff activity  is recorded in detail

4. Downtime and errors

5. Output measures in workplaces engaged in more  routine tasks

6. Performance assessments

1: HR Metrics

Staff absenteeism and turn-over are key concerns for  company directors, so if you discover a connection between  these and the building environment, you’ll have a strong case  to present to your senior colleagues.

HR teams often track this data, but it might be tricky to  access this information because of data protection concerns.  It may also take you some time to decipher and analyse the  information as HR may not, for instance, record the area of  the building that each staff member occupies.

For these reasons, we suggest you talk with HR as early  as possible.

2: Financial metrics around business performance  Although all businesses have an interest in financial and  business performance, not all business directly or indirectly  track productivity data. You may want to consult with your  stakeholders to agree proxy measures such as staff output  or other measures that allow you to easily track productivity data and allow you to link workplace conditions with a finance  related outcome.

3:Utilisation data in workplaces where staff activity is  recorded in detail

If you already track staff utilisation, you could correlate  changes in productivity to changes in environment by  overlaying staff productivity and IEQ data to search for  trends. You could also consider a “study approach”  by deliberately altering environmental conditions and  measuring changes in performance.

4:Downtime and errors

When downtime of key equipment or processes is caused  by staff, you can use this as a key performance metric. You  can also look at processes where human error causes direct  business consequences. Staff errors will reduce in improved  IEQ, resulting in a direct financial gain. You should certainly  explore this if your organisation records this data.

5:Output measures in workplaces engaged in more  routine tasks

Organisations with routine driven tasks are likely to collect  productivity data. For example, call centres will closely  monitor the number of call and sales conversions. You can  apply this data analysis approach to other sectors which are  data rich, such as production line manufacturing and retail.

6:Performance assessments

If your company can’t provide performance data, you can  still run tests to measure staff performance, such as literacy  or numerical tests that are directly relevant to the work that  staff carry out. The advantage is you can closely control  conditions, and you can create the basis of a business  case by establishing baseline values for the groups you  are studying.

Read here for Step 3 Productivity Heaven Series.

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