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:
- People – insights from building users
- Place – performance of the building
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.