The starting point for this week’s UnWork Series webinar was the word ‘Unbounded’, meaning to have or appear to have no limits. Given the focus in the media about decision-making led by science, this seems to be the time to look at how we make more evidence-based workplace strategy decisions. The conversation therefore revolved around looking at the future of work through a scientific lens, exploring data and evidence-based design – the potential of which certainly seems to be limitless. Sasha Tinson and Arraz Makhzani, a senior data analyst at UnWork, were joined by Dr. Paul Smith, Chief Strategy Officer of ART Health Solutions. The top ten takeaways are outlined below.
- A holistic approach: It’s been common in recent weeks to try to get a handle on how employees are feeling in our new world by using qualitative techniques. While this is important, it should be balanced by objective data; having a holistic picture is critical and this involves both hearing the voice of the individual and ongoing quantitative measurement.
- Tailored methodology: There are a huge range of ways to collect data which means there isn’t a single general approach that works. Rather, you have to understand what you’re collecting and why, then choose the right methods to gather the information that you need to answer your questions.
- Maximising engagement: Engaging with busy workers needs a practical approach. People need to be able to commit to a study without adding to their workload; a time commitment of 15 minutes per week can work well. It’s also important to engage with people at the outset, explaining what you’re trying to achieve and why it’s going to be of value to them.
- Privacy and transparency: This is a critical issue and care should be taken to develop high quality privacy policies and practices. People shouldn’t be forced to give metrics that they’re not comfortable with, or hand over individually identifiable information. If this can be successfully addressed then it will minimise resistance to a data-based project.
- Develop a robust framework: While statistical corrections can be made to a degree, they can’t make up for data collection that’s been collected in a poor framework.
- From office to home: Early results from ART data suggest that – on average – there is an improvement in short-term memory, restorative sleep and happiness with a small reduction in stress levels. However, it’s individualistic; as the conversation turns towards whether home working might be a longer-term proposition, continuing to capture data while people are working from home is an important way of letting employers know which employees are thriving.
- Personalising work: Data shows that people’s responses to external stimuli are extremely individual, which makes personalisation of shared space potentially difficult. This might mean that activity-based space needs a new dimension, creating a high-level optimum for the greatest number of people with smaller pockets of individual personalisation; for example, checking into a meeting room and having it automatically set to your preferences.
- A personalised approach to wellbeing: Making sure that employees are fit, healthy and resilient is likely to be a significant focus in the months and years to come. The historic approach to wellbeing has been one size fits all. That’s no longer going to be enough; companies will need to gather data to understand wellbeing at a team and individual level, using that to drive long-term strategies that can impact on it.
- A future of predictive intelligence: An area with huge potential for quantitative data is our increasing ability to use it predictively, creating digital models that allow us to look at future scenarios.
- Data-driven approach: In summary, it’s critical that people are using data to make their decisions in order to mitigate against future risk and develop evidence-based strategies for people and property.
In a world that seems full of uncertainties, making decisions that are evidence-based seems more important than ever. Combining multiple data streams – both qualitative and quantitative – allows us to develop informed, holistic strategies for work and workplace. What are the burning questions that you need to be answered?
If you have questions about the future of data-driven workplace design and strategy – or any of the specific themes raised in the discussion – please feel free to reach out to:
UnWork: Sasha Tinson – Development Director
ART Health Solutions: Dr. Paul Smith – Chief Strategy Officer