How do we prove scientifically that it is worth investing in wellbeing? Will it really provide additional revenue for a company’s business? CBRE has designed a science-based tool that is able to measure scientifically how workplace affects productivity, creativity, and well-being and tested it in the first pilot study. Leaving the analysis of the results to the following article, which parameters and which issues do we have to consider in order to quantify the efficacy of a company’s investment in the working environment?
On their Fast Forward Report 2030, CBRE has already explained how in the future high performance workplaces that foster social and creative intelligence will offer a competitive advantage to the companies.
Although the importance of the issue, until now the only way to measure how effective was a company investment towards this aim was a set of qualitative tests. So CBRE, following the motto “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”, has designed along with the Japanese University of Keio and the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid a science-based tool to quantify and objectively analyze the improvement of productivity, creativity, and wellbeing in high-performance workplaces.
Three office layouts and two variables.
The pilot study was designed to combine both objective and subjective analysis, before and after completing the proposed activities and across these three different workplaces:
- Conventional office: assigned workstations, poor use of the space and poor technological level that do not favor collaborative working and optimization of processes.
- Optimal Office: a motivating working environment with an adequate level of technology, although not design following the firm’s corporate culture and in order to achieve greater wellbeing.
- Excellent Office: a working environment that favors collaborative working, employee interaction, and wellbeing, equipped with the latest standards in efficiency and innovation and fully aligned with the firm’s corporate culture.
Two variables were also added in order to consider two other kinds of investments: training session of change management and an high-impact daily training of physical exercises and mindfulness.
For these different layouts and variables CBRE has calculated the amount of investment that an average 70 employees company should do: considering 30 thousand euro for the change management training course and 80 thousand for the physical and mindfulness training, the cost for an optimal office would be around 730 thousand euro (architecture costs 617 thousand euro) while an excellent office will be up to a million euro (architecture cost 910 thousand euro)
In order to achieve a complete view of the many ways in which innovation impacts on employees, the study was designed to combine both objective and subjective analysis, following these parameters:
- 1. Physiological and psychological parameters: test and questionnaires were used together to provide an overview of the subjects’ experience in terms of space perception, physical condition and subjective perception of the workload. Blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, and sleep quality can be really insightful physiological parameters related to mood, stress, sleeping and physical exercise habits of every employee.
- Productivity Measurements: memory, concentration, and reasoning. These are the three parameters tested through two short cognitive tests each taken from the public website of the Cambridge Brain Sciences (CBS) and based on classical paradigms from cognitive psychology literature, such as Digit Span and Spatial span for memory, Rotations and Feature Match for concentration and Odd One out and Grammatical Reasoning for reasoning.
- Creativity Measurements: the ability to generate simple and complex ideas to solve problems was measured through the Taxonomy of Creative Thinking: a scale progression from imitation to variation, combination, transformation and original creation.
- Environmental Measurements. Temperature, humidity, air velocity, CO2 levels, lighting, and noise were measured at 15-minute intervals throughout the pilot study.
The pilot study
The pilot study was run in the three work-settings we have presented before within a group of 14 people, divided into four groups: one with a change management training program, another with a physical training and mindfulness program, on with both and a control group without any program.
For every group the test lasts 10 days: after an initial psycho-social study and equipment calibration (1-4 days), a training session (day 5), groups worked in the conventional office space (day 6) in the optimal office (7-8 days) and in the excellent office environment (9-10 days).
Here the complete report of the pilot study.
Results will be discussed in the next article.
Text by Gabriele Masi.
Pictures from CBRELab report.