BLOG by Sean Gibbons, EuroFM Ambassador UK: Measuring workplace performance in the post-pandemic world

The pandemic changed many things, among these were where and how we work, & therefore the need to adapt how we measure the performance of our workplaces.

Prior to the pandemic, many organisations measured a narrow range of performance indicators mostly around cost and space efficiency. Typically, by adopting static ‘per person’ denominators such as full-time equivalents (FTEs) or headcount allocated to a particular building or floor. 

More progressive organisations also measured environmental performance in terms of energy consumption, water consumption, and some CO2 & waste arising. An enlightened few also measured the effectiveness of their workplaces through user perception surveys.

Whilst, even before the pandemic there was a growing trend to work from home, the pandemic accelerated this and the term hybrid working has become part of the common lexicon.

This is changing not only how we need to measure workplace performance but also how to subsequently develop strategies that can drive improvements. Old metrics such as the amount of space per FTE are becoming obsolete & new metrics are emerging around real time space utilisation. However, the technology around how we measure occupancy is changing fast & is yet to coalesce around a single solution & therefore metrics that can be compared between organisations. 

As the tables are turned & employers are required to take steps to lure workers back to empty offices, effectiveness is maturing into workplace experience; where employers are expected to be more creative in providing sustainable spaces, amenities, services & experiences that inspire their employees to be more productive & overcome any deficit incurred through travel costs & commute times.

For the individual, the benefits of hybrid working are clear in terms of improvements in wellbeing & work-life balance & there is a growing pool of data that supports this. However, the jury is still out from an organisational perspective & this is reflected in the range of policies towards working from home, with some employers demanding that people return to the office without any clear evidence that this will benefit organisational performance. Data from workplace surveys consistently suggests that people perceive themselves as being more productive from home, but this perception may not be reflected in actual productivity where engagement & collaboration are critical in achieving optimal outcomes. 

While traditional metrics around efficiency will always remain important, the requirement to balance these with sustainability, workplace experience & beyond is turning the way we measure performance upside down & more research & industry alignment on a common language & framework is needed.

And in closing, let’s not forget that a measurement framework is just the starting point – the biggest challenge when it comes to improved performance is how to take this data & use it to establish targets & develop & implement actionable strategies that deliver improved outcomes whilst balancing often competing interests.