The Power of the Staff Survey

By: Richard Fanelli 

When an organization is planning a major relocation or renovation that will result in changes to existing space standards and work patterns, it is important to get staff buy-in and support. That starts with the staff feeling that they are being heard by management. Preparing, implementing and analyzing a staff survey is an effective tool towards that end. A staff survey will also be a reality check against assumptions that might be made by management on what the new space standards and work patterns should be. After the results of the survey are analyzed, it is really up to management to consider the majority responses and adjust their approach or ignore the responses and deal with the consequences. Either way, just by going through the survey process, the staff will feel that they have had a part in the process.

The major categories of a workplace strategy survey will include the following:

  • Work Patterns: To determine tolerances to distance and modes of transportation from home to work and opinions on telework as an option
  • Typical Tasks: Analysis of percentage of time spentin “heads down” work in the office, phone calls both in and out of the office, collaborative work in the office in both small and large meetings, and meetings outside the office
  • Communication: Preferences on communications modes with others, both inside and outside the office
  • Storage: Types and quantities of personal storage required at all times
  • Environment: Preferences on air temperature, aesthetics, tolerance level for visual and audible distractions, preferences for light levels, level of control for temperature and light levels
  • Critical Adjacencies: Adjacencies to other staff, support areas and other departments or work groups
  • Departmental Support Areas: Improvements needed for departmental support areas
  • Shared Support Areas: Wish list of new or improved shared support areas
  • Keep vs New: General aspects of their current space that should be retained and what changes are needed for the new space

Once the survey has been written and vetted by your workplace committee, you can input it into an online survey tool. Always give a deadline for completing the survey (one to two weeks is usually adequate). You might want to consider giving an incentive for completing the survey (such as being copied on the results).

Analysis of the survey results is critical to the survey being seen as a useful tool that will lead to, or validate the proposed workplace changes. It should be done by an unbiased third party or a workplace sub-committee with the results submitted to management for review and comment. Ultimately it is the decision of management as to how the results of the survey will affect decisions that will lead to workplace change.