How you collect data is as important as how you use it. To meet your facility management goals and objectives, you need reliable ways to capture data and then leverage it into better decision-making. Leveraging data is how you improve workplace productivity, control costs, and deliver the best employee experience.

Why is workplace data important?

Think of collecting data as a front-end process. This is where the bulk of the work comes from, and it’s crucial to establish proper data collection modes and means.

Bottom line: The integrity of the data you get relies on how well you collect it.

Once you have the data, it’s time to put it to work. Organizing and interpreting data are learned skills, which means you need to invest time in learning how to apply a dataset to real concepts. Becoming fluent in data interpretation gives way to more confident facility management ideas. And even though fluency is a solid long-term goal, you can still start to see benefits even at the earliest stages of learning to work with data.

Modern worktech makes the whole process easier, helping you both capture data and turn it into actionable insights through automatically generated reports.

How to capture and leverage workplace data

1. Identify your metrics

Before you start quantifying the workplace, figure out what elements are important to you. Are you measuring occupancy? Utilization? What’s your objective in gathering data and what metrics factor into measuring progress toward your goals? There’s a nearly infinite number of types of data you could be collecting, but only some of them are going to help you reach your goals. Decide on metrics by working backwards from your goals.

2. Trial equipment

Don’t throw a lot of money into an IoT investment just because it has good reviews or the provider has a way to incentivize you to sign up. There are hardware and software components to every data funnel, so as much as possible take the time to test and trial them before fully implementing them in your office IoT.

3. Scale into the Internet of Things (IoT)

Start small and scale up. Taking the time to build a good data collection funnel saves you the hassle of reinventing the wheel with each new funnel you set up. Master the basics and scale into more robust data streams. Moving in stages can also help with adoption rates. Instead of introducing a ton of new changes, give employees a chance to warm up to new worktech a bit at a time. Once they’ve mastered the basics, it’s much easier for you to roll out more advanced options.

4. Automate

The IoT and workplace data should make your workplace more efficient, and automation is a huge part of that. When building out your IoT, automate data collection and aggregation wherever possible. The goal is not to add more tasks. Remember, you’re trying to make things easier for everyone — including yourself.

Automation also ensures good data. When everything is manual, you run the risk of human error. Can an office manager reliably track occupancy walking around with paper and pen? Not only is it a waste of their time, it’s also a process prone to human error. A modern visitor management system (VMS) with a check-in kiosk delivers data you can trust.

5. Develop an ecosystem

On the software side, leverage integrations wherever possible. Syncing everything through an integrated workplace management system (IWMS) or porting over data seamlessly between applications makes leveraging it easy.

Ideally, you should look for an all-in-one platform that helps you capture and control data for facility, workplace, and employee experience management. It’s easier and faster to implement one system instead of many — from employee training to billing.

6. Be transparent

Some employees might get nervous when sensors start showing up in the workplace. Be transparent in data collection initiatives and strive for data anonymity wherever possible. Be prepared to answer any questions about privacy during the rollout and beyond.

7. Aggregate data

Think of different data sets as distinct colors. Dumping all your workplace data into a single spreadsheet just produces mud. The goal isn’t to have as much data together as possible. You want to use the data to paint an accurate, compelling picture of your office and how employees use the spaces inside it.

Work with your data carefully. Break it out, delineate sources, and establish good reporting practices. Here again, an IWMS platform is a smart investment that can deliver dashboard views of unique data streams.

8. Evaluate data

Learn how to dissect data. Ideally, you should be able to establish mean, median, mode, and range for the data you’re looking at. Understand outliers. Learn to recognize trends and correlate them to physical events. Mastering data means spending a lot of time with it.

But not too much time. Find the software solution that makes working with data more manageable. Remember, you’re not trying to be a data scientist. You want to be someone who can leverage data for better decision-making.

9. Match data to key performance indicators (KPIs)

Remember those metrics you established for collecting data? Put them to work organizing data. Identify which data streams allude to specific metrics and observe that data through the lens of your objective for powerful insights. What’s the difference between a metric and a KPI? You put metrics together to get a KPI. So, you might have metrics related to occupancy that you combine to track utilization.

10. Generate reports

Establishing automated reports of data gives specific insight into the KPIs and trends most important to stakeholders. Best of all, different reports can quickly answer the questions of diverse stakeholders, from the CEO to the COO and CFO.

How do you know who needs which data? Think about the definition of success for each role to find the matching KPIs. For example, with a list of facilities management strategic goals, you can make a matching list of related metrics and KPIs.

11. Identify concrete next steps

What workplace trends does the data illuminate and what changes may improve those figures? Better still, what workplace demands aren’t currently met and how can you leverage data to make quantifiable improvements?

Think of different types of changes, too. On one level, you need to check that you have the right size of real estate portfolio. Is there enough space, or too much of it? Every square foot of space costs you money, so you only want as much as you need. Once you have the right amount of space, you can look at how it’s all laid out. Space planning can help you boost your utilization numbers by delivering the workspaces employees want.

12. Draw conclusions

Consider workplace improvement initiatives and look at data surrounding them. Using what you know from the data you’ve collected, establish a course for action, backed by fact.

Here, “draw” can also mean putting pen to paper and reworking the office space layout. Better yet, modern space planning and move management software lets you experiment with and run virtual tests with different office designs, from where you place the desks to where you position the lights.

More data for a better workplace and employee experience

Establishing a good foundation for data collection is the first step towards office optimization. Learning how to evaluate and leverage that data is the second half of the equation. Facility managers who can combine the two will become invaluable assets for companies concerned about workplace optimization. At every step of the on-going process of capture and leverage, the right worktech solution ensures you get reliable data you can effectively leverage into actionable insights.

Avatar photo


Jonathan writes about asset management, maintenance software, and SaaS solutions in his role as a digital content creator at Eptura. He covers trends across industries, including fleet, manufacturing, healthcare, and hospitality, with a focus on delivering thought leadership with actionable insights. Earlier in his career, he wrote textbooks, edited NPC dialogue for video games, and taught English as a foreign language. He hold a master's degree in journalism.