Building Successful Flexspaces: The Balance of Emotion and Data Analytics

Data analytics

With the increasing influx of data available for coworking and flexspace operators, when we were asked to host a round table discussion at GCUC UK Manchester it was obvious that the subject to choose was,building successful flexspaces: the balance of emotion and data analytics.”

Ed Crabtree, Director, Business Development in our UK team led this honest conversation on an area that so many operators are increasingly tussling with as they make decisions on everything about managing workspace; from cleaning frequency right through to new site expansion.  Are you collecting and analysing the right data and how much do you allow your experience to guide you?

Data, data, everywhere…

The session started with those around the table sharing the data sources they use regularly. Whilst all use the traditional sales pipeline, billing and workspace software reporting, the consensus in the room was that bringing the data together from multiple separate sources that don’t talk to each other was the biggest challenge to easily create reliable, actionable insight.

Operators feel slightly scared of how to then distil the data down to something that is relevant to them. There is limited value in just seeing data from one data set on a flashy dashboard, unless you can blend everything together!

The other challenge was still IoT sensors – the cost felt prohibitive for some and difficult to understand and justify the benefits of the data collected.  For those who had gone down this route investment in installation was actually quite simple. Working out what to do with the data was the struggle…

Starting with the why

To help navigate the amount of data available a good suggestion was to start with the why  – why are we measuring?  Having a very specific goal was felt to help define specific data sets needed and how to analyse effectively.

  • Space utilisation was a key reason for most operators

Most operators saw the most value in using data analytics for space design.  With the development of workstyle types its easier to make mistakes and more tweaks are needed to layout.   This is where WiFi data can contribute to the debate, effectively showing where people are working in your building. Less expensive than IoT sensors as it does not require additional equipment installation and the data can be supplied in a simple format.

  • Cost management was identified as a another driver for gathering data

One operator had successfully used IoT sensors to measure electricity usage in a bid to manage costs – enabling them to charge specific clients for usage over a certain level. This kind of specific driver for using IoT was felt to be the most successful.

  • How to scale?

One area that all operators sought back up for their gut feel was on new site locations.  Market reports were key here, alongside demographic data analytics.  Although most admitted that they did utilise these to corroborate their instincts rather than guide decisions initially.

Data can lead to a tech-first environment

There was a concern in the room that using a data-led approach to driving coworking space management efficiency could risk dehumanising the offering/experience e.g. It might be more efficient to make certain client actions self-service but humans like the human touch; they come to the office to be with other people.  So, for the hospitality elements of the service, it was felt that experience (emotional bias) was central to decision-making.

How we create emotional bias

Most acknowledged that they searched for data to back up their hunches, especially when looking at market reports, singling out the statistics and findings that backed up their opinions.

Market data is usually professionally gathered and analysed, but often its broad, e.g. about the Manchester market, but – as with any city – the market varies by postcode.  So,  relating it to our own businesses blindly was seen as another common area of emotional bias.

Thanks to all those who attended the session and contributed to such a refreshingly honest chat.

twiindata, the internet bandwidth management service from technologywithin, provides actionable space utilisation data in a simple format.  If you would like advice on how to use your  WiFi data to better understand your space utilisation, get in touch with our sales team and they would be happy to talk you through it.

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