We've all been there before: you're at work, trying to get your tasks done, but something just doesn't feel right. Maybe it's taking you longer to finish a project than it should, or perhaps you're struggling to collaborate with your team.
Whatever the reason, the fact remains that not all workplaces are created equal. In fact, some workplaces can be downright low-performing. As a workplace manager you need to know what this means exactly, what are the implications and what are the signs that shows your office falls into this category.
So, what does it mean to run a low-performing workplace?
1. It's Harder to Get Work Done
A low-performing workplace is one that doesn't help people get their work done, and worse, it might even make it harder for them to get their work done. While you might call this lack of productivity, the reality is that someone trying to finish an end-of-quarter project or gather their team to review product designs has a really objective criterion: did we do it, or did we not? If it took all day when it should have taken half that time, it's likely because employees didn't have access to the right tools or resources, or the office environment was clunky and didn't support their work.
1. Lack of (Access to) Resources
2. High Levels of Distraction
How to spot
Surveys | Ask employees the right questions
- Do you have everything you need to excel at your job?
- If you could change anything in the office, what would that be?
Spatial Data | Identify underused amenities
- Identify the rooms that are tied to specific functions (e.g. Photocopy Room, Prototyping Lab)
- Check the Utilization of your Amenities' Rooms through time
- Identify patterns
Spatial Data | Reveal bad combinations
- Identify adjacent rooms with opposite functions (e.g. Desk Area next to Collaboration Space)
- Cross-check their comparative occupancy rates: does the one affect the other?
Spatial Data | Understand if people have access to the needed spaces through misused rooms
- Assign “Ideal Capacity” to rooms (e.g. Meeting Room = 4 People)
- Check Fullness rates (e.g. A meeting room that is always occupied by 1 person as a focus area)
2. People are Disengaged
If employees are disengaged from their work or from the company's goals, it can be a sign of a low-performing workplace. Disengaged employees are less likely to be productive and may not be committed to the success of the organization.
Lack of collaboration is often the underlying cause of a disengaged workforce. Effective collaboration is essential in today's work environment, where projects are increasingly complex and require input from multiple stakeholders. In a low-performing office, however, employees may struggle to communicate effectively with their colleagues or share information easily. This can result in missed deadlines, misunderstandings, and a lack of trust between team members.
1. Information silos
2. Low-vibrancy physical office
How to spot
Spatial Data | Are people working in isolation?
- Check rooms with low Fullness scores
Spatial Data | Are my communal spaces generating vibrancy?
- Check fullness and utilization rates of your communal spaces (e.g. Kitchenette, Lounge, Cafeteria etc)
IT Check | Identify Information Silos
- Analyze Data Access: Determine how data is stored, accessed, and shared across different departments.
HR Check | Discuss Team Dynamics with Managers & Leads
- Create a safe environment for 1-1 discussions with your Leads' Team. Map out Team Dynamics, and outline strong communication channels and blockers.
3. People Prefer to Work from Home
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a significant increase in remote work, with many companies adopting hybrid or fully remote work arrangements. While remote work can be an effective way to improve work-life balance and productivity, it can also be a sign of a low-performing workplace. If employees are opting to work remotely more often, it could be because they feel more productive outside of the office environment. In this case, it may be worth considering whether your office is conducive to effective work.
Designing an office that caters to everyone is a challenging task, but it's crucial for creating a productive and efficient workplace. Failing to consider the diverse needs and work styles of employees during the design process can result in an office that doesn't meet the needs of certain groups. For example, an office with only open workstations and no private spaces may not work well for employees who require quiet, focused work environments or who need to have confidential conversations. On the other hand, an office with only enclosed private offices may not work well for employees who thrive in collaborative, open environments or who need easy access to their colleagues. Additionally, failing to consider accessibility needs, such as wheelchair accessibility or accommodations for employees with hearing or vision impairments, can make it challenging for certain employees to perform their job duties.
A low performing office for one person may be a really high performing office for the other. And if you want an example of that, try putting your sales team next to your engineering team.
Zach Dunn, Robin
1. Unused amenities (e.g. Desks)
2. Low office traffic
3. One-dimensional Layouts
How to spot
Spatial Data | Spot unused spaces assigned to teams
- Low utilization rates in team-assigned Zones
- Low desk occupancy rates across the office
Spatial Data | Determine whether overall absence is influenced by other factors.
- Check patterns of your overall traffic (e.g. People only show up on Tuesdays and Wednesdays)
- Examine the long-term traffic performance to determine if it is consistently stable or experiencing a downward trend.
Spatial Data | Identify any underlying purposes behind people showing up (or not)
- Check occupancy rates across all types of spaces (e.g. high usage of meeting rooms may suggest a scarcity of quiet areas for concentrated work.)
A low-performing workplace can have a significant impact on employees' productivity, collaboration, and job satisfaction. By understanding the signs of a low-performing workplace, you can take steps to address these issues and create a more supportive and productive work environment. From ensuring that employees have access to the right tools and resources to fostering effective collaboration and reducing turnover rates, there are many strategies you can employ to improve your office's performance. Ultimately, the success of your workplace hinges on its ability to support the work that people need to do.