Future University – Edge Zones
February 5, 2013 – 6:47 pm | Comments Off on Future University – Edge Zones

I’ve been thinking a bit about the future of the university, and it seems to me that a new model may be emerging, one that has something of the traditional sanctuary of a place of learning, but that innovatively engages communities, both local and international. There will, of course, have to be those preserves where students and teachers can contemplate their experience and learn together, but there must also be what, for the moment, one might think of as an edge zone where interactions of many kinds might take place.

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How do you measure workplace performance? Six ways to jump start improvements.

Submitted by on January 21, 2012 – 7:18 pmNo Comment

By Dan Anderson

While it’s hard to precisely measure the productivity of a vibrant and engaging workplace, no one is at their most productive in a dismal setting with cranky colleagues.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics the average employed person (25-54 with children) worked 8.6 hours per day in 2011. That adds up to over 2000 hours a year per person.  Even with increased mobility and geographic distribution of work and teams, the office workplace is still an important setting for work and interaction. Keeping pace with rapid technology transformations and organizational behaviors, the nature of our physical environment is an important contributing factor to effective and productive work.

So how do we evaluate improvements?

Every workplace is unique. As we have outlined in other posts, opportunities and strategies must be specific and responsive to each set of challenges and resources. Improvements might range from implementing new lighting or furnishing solutions to launching a new product, service or business initiative. The following are six approaches to planning and tracking performance improvements.

  1. If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. Make the metrics objective and easy to evaluate. Once you identify a challenge to engage, be sure you can show how the solution is better.
  2. Don’t just use one metric. Look at multiple aspects of work and the workplace. Compare and contrast your findings and weigh them according to the value they contribute.
  3. Get input from across your organization. Solicit leadership and management as well as entry level employees. All have valuable perspectives on work and direct experience. If individuals and teams have a chance to evaluate themselves on their own merits, their productivity will improve.
  4. Don’t underestimate dissatisfaction. Be sure to evaluate based on subjective issues and rank these for consistency. Address continued negative responses and always find ways to support positive feedback.
  5. Get the data you need. Data collection is hard work so be sure to use what you have and stay focused. Collect information related to the task at hand.
  6. We are all in it together. With increasing mobility and an emphasis on collaboration the office is a social hub. Measuring social skills and teamwork capabilities are critical.

What other considerations?

There are important performance measures to consider generally regarding the design of workplace settings.

  • Indoor environmental quality, from better lighting to improved ventilation and thermal control, has demonstrated improvements in productivity; reductions in absenteeism, improved health, and increased work performance.
  • Acoustic privacy must also be included. While the ability to work in groups is critical to innovation, distraction is a significant detriment to productivity. Distinct zoning of areas acoustically will enable a balance of settings for effective collaboration with separate nearby areas for focused attention.

The physical environment of the workplace must always be considered in parallel with technology and organizational supports. Communications and IT platforms have significant impact on performance. Business policies and procedures make important contributions to effective work practices. A broad workplace culture of innovation is also vital.  This complex constellation of work appears to challenge accurate measurement.  A comprehensive NetWork platform with integrated workplace supports is required. At Anderson Porter Design we propose six simple and effective ways to begin implementing and measuring lasting performance improvements.

How do you measure your workplace?

Let us know how you have improved productivity and innovation in your workplace.

 

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