Research on organizational productivity could make better use of valuable information archived in the facilities management department, a new report from the Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) and the National Research Council (NRC) concludes. Improving Organizational Productivity with Building Automation Systems is a first step in a planned three-part study, which begins with a comprehensive review of existing research from around the world.
Drawing on 500 peer-reviewed academic studies that measure some aspect of how organizations function within their workspaces and more than 4,000 abstracts summarizing similar research efforts, NRC analysts developed a framework for assessing building technologies and operations in relation to other key performance indicators for employee well-being and output. These included: absenteeism; employee turnover intent; self-assessed performance; job satisfaction; health and well-being; and complaints to the facilities manager.
Building automation systems (BAS) and whole-building green strategies — defined as “better buildings approaches” — were then compared in a matrix with four other employee-focused corporate strategies: office design/format; workplace health programs; bonuses; and flexible work options. This was not meant to be a hierarchical ranking, but, rather, a means to capture and organize evidence that researchers acknowledge has been “notoriously difficult to quantify convincingly”.
“By comparing better buildings approaches to other corporate programs, which may have known costs and expected outcomes in a particular organization, the decision-maker is empowered to choose (or not) a better buildings approach relative to another approach,” the report states.
However, the comparisons were ultimately based on just five of the six envisioned key performance indicators due to inadequate data on complaints to facilities managers. Existing research could not deliver a metric based on complaints per person per year.
“This is surprising because the data are routinely collected and archived in electronic format in most large organizations, and it seems like such an obvious outcome for building researchers to pursue, with their historic focus on occupant comfort,” the report’s authors observe. “This is also an area in which a business case could be made in a relatively straightforward manner. Even excluding the potentially large benefits that lowering occupant discomfort might have for a range of organizational productivity metrics, responding to a complaint has direct tangible costs too, with both fixed and variable components.”