Should You Tell Employees About Workplace Monitoring?
February 4, 2018
5 tips to ease worries about location and space utilization monitoring
As the cost of premium real estate in U.S. and U.K. cities continues to climb, many employers are seeking to do more with less space, or at least accommodate future growth within the confines of an existing space. The key to optimizing your real estate footprint is to understand how your physical office is being used today—by whom in what spaces, and at what times of day.
This information can easily be obtained by a well-planned space utilization survey using occupancy sensors. Though modern data analytics make it easier than ever to capture and analyze this information about your workforce, it is important to set your employees minds at ease about your intentions. Use these five tips to plan your communication strategy.
Don’t try to hide your monitoring programs.
The primary reason that employees view location and space utilization monitoring with suspicion is that many employers seem to be hiding it. Instead of practicing good, proactive employee communication, the company simply launches the monitoring program. Employees soon discover the sensor devices under chairs or desks and think the employer must by “spying” on them. It’s easy to see why they would assume the worst—they don’t have any better explanation.
Communicate thoughtfully and multiple times.
The more your employees know, the less they will worry about your workspace utilization monitoring. Ultimately, you want them to work in their normal manner, paying no attention to sensors or programs.
Before you start placing the first sensor, make a plan for communicating about the space utilization monitoring program. Plan to give them the information at least twice before you deploy sensors.
In your communications, you will want to tell employees:
- Why space utilization assessment is needed
- This is not intended as micromanagement or “spying”
- What is ultimately in it for them (a more functional office)
- Where they should expect to find sensors
- What the sensors look like
- What the company will do with the information collected
- Whether the data collected with be personally identifiable (i.e. are you tracking their individual movements or general usage – please see number three below)
- The occupancy sensors do not contain cameras or audio recorders
Avoid the creep factor.
Put yourself in your employees’ shoes. Is there anything that your company intends to monitor about employees that would make you feel creepy or uneasy if it were you being monitored? If yes, revisit why you need that information and what you intend to do with it. If there is no creep factor to your information collection, then simply define the programs for employees and explain the data you intend to collect.
Generally speaking, anytime your company deals with people analytics, the creep factor comes down to employee privacy. Employees will prefer that you are not tracking an individual person’s movements, but rather than overall usage of a space with anonymous data. However, if you are tracking individual location data, be up front about it and explain why.
Employees are apt to think it is creepy when an employer monitors extremely private areas, such as bathrooms, so this is not recommended. If you had any reason to monitor these spaces, it should only be for the purpose of making sure you have enough facilities to serve your employees.
Share what you learned with employees.
You might not feel it is in your company’s strategic interest to share too many details you learned through your workspace utilization survey, but it is important to communicate what you can with them. Give employees the big picture of the workspaces you have learned they need and how you intend to design and deploy those spaces.
Make the workspace work better for them.
Ultimately, the payoff of workspace utilization monitoring for both employees and employers is a more finely designed, highly functional office. When employees begin to see changes that help them perform tasks more easily and work more productively, they will welcome any future (or continuous) utilization surveys your company performs.
Foster a partnership with employees on workspace utilization
There is no reason for employees to be apprehensive about workspace monitoring and utilization surveys. By communicating clearly and sharing the corporate vision for a better office design, you can partner with employees to increase productivity. Easily collect the occupancy and utilization data that you need to gather actionable insights with Asure’s space utilization solutions and consulting. Our office utilization experts can help you design a survey and place sensors, and then analyze the resulting data to gather meaningful insights.