Meaningful Workplace Decisions Require Accurate Data

If your smartphone gets you within a mile of your destination, is that close enough? If a store delivers the shirt you bought, but in the wrong size, can you wear it? If you order steak and the waiter brings you a burger, will you be satisfied? In life and in business, close isn’t good enough. You can’t make meaningful decisions, if you don’t trust how you’re making them. So, when it comes to an organization’s two most valuable assets, people and real estate, it isn’t surprising to learn that accuracy is paramount.

“We have at our fingertips access to more data than ever before in history, and technologies to exponentially augment our own natural abilities. By embedding technology into the work environment, we are creating the workplace of the future,” says Scott Sadler, Steelcase Smart + Connected manager. “We can measure and identify patterns in how and where people are working. But, data alone is meaningless; to improve performance individuals and organizations need trusted insights into what works, what doesn’t and why.”


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Measuring workplace optimization is not necessarily a new idea. Right now, businesses try a number of different tactics to figure out how people use their space.

  • Manual – People canvas the building and record notes about occupancy.
  • Anecdotal – Managers make notes about when certain rooms appear unused.
  • Assumptive – Sensors collect data assuming each person has an assigned space.

Old assumptions and measurement styles lend to inaccurate, inconclusive and unactionable data. Mobile workstyles and new kinds of shared spaces need to be considered as an organization tries to figure out how their space works for their people. The bottom line: Data, even big data, is only meaningful when precise information is combined with valuable insights.

The bottom line: Data, even big data, is only meaningful when precise information is combined with valuable insights


With more than a century of experience researching, observing and designing for workers and the workplace, Steelcase began exploring how to partner with organizations to provide a smart and connected work environment to help people have a better day at the office. As the team developed Workplace Advisor, a cloud-enabled space-sensing network that collects and analyzes workplace data, it knew accuracy had to be at its core.


“Steelcase understands the configuration of space and how people move within space,” says Sadler. He says this rich knowledge base lends to more precise placement and unique tuning for each sensor. In addition, the algorithm created and extensively tested by the team accounts for the realities in which people work today.


In order for data to add a competitive edge, it needs to be easy for organizations to interpret and take action. Steelcase designed the Workplace Advisor dashboard to be real-time, all-inclusive and intuitive. Leaders are able to pinpoint overused and underused spaces, which space attributes are connected to each location (video conferencing, natural light, whiteboards, etc.) and make insightful decisions about their work environment.

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The pace of business today requires agility. Leaders have to keep on top of what’s happening on the front-lines not just today, but tomorrow, next year and into the future. A dynamic way to stay informed is by accurately measuring how people are using the work environment. Steelcase Workplace Advisor is powered by Microsoft Azure, a best-in-class cloud platform with industry-leading security and scalability. This collaboration means accuracy is never compromised no matter how the environment evolves.

Evolution, after all, is inevitable. Accurate data and easy-to-understand analysis can help leaders support their people as changes happen.

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