Yes, it is possible to remove office politics from your workplace decisions

Removing office politics with utilization data
October 17, 2022
Linkedin logo iconTwitter logo iconFacebook logo icon
Download PDF
Featured in:

The most effective way to remove office politics from your workplace decision is through unbiased evidence. 

Choosing who gets what space — and how much of it — can create a hostile environment at work.

For example, employees might think that you gave Customer Success more desks because you (or someone else) favor them. Historically, it’s been a challenge to show that your decision was based on actual need. 

Historically, it’s been a challenge to show that your decision was based on actual need. 

But by measuring how people interact with your space, you can support your decisions with indisputable data. Employees will struggle to challenge your workplace strategy because the proof is in the numbers. 

To prove our point, we’ve detailed three scenarios you likely have experienced (or will) and how data helps bolster your decision-making. 

Where did our desks go?

As part of your RTO strategy, you didn’t make any drastic changes. You took the ‘wait and see’ approach. You wanted to adapt your strategy based on actual utilization. 

For that, you dive into the percentage of time used for each of your space types.

Turns out, most folks who come to your office spend time in collaborative (or “we”) spaces (see image below). Few people work at desks (me spaces). This tells you folks come to the office to commingle with colleagues. 

Most used space types in your workplace, between desks, lounges, and conference rooms.
% of time used per space type

To create a better experience based on demand, you remove several workstations to make room for dynamic spaces with modular furniture. That way, people can design their space based on how they need to work at that given moment. 

Great! Except, you’re hearing complaints from employees about the loss of those desks. There’s a chorus of people saying that not everyone comes to the office to collaborate. 

Fair enough — except the numbers tell a different story. Most employees do come to collaborate — your space should support that.

Fortunately, you can use this data to defend your decision. 

Besides, it’s not like you removed every desk. Nor is any decision you make set in stone. You will keep adapting based on actual utilization. If desk utilization inches up, you’ll respond. 

Why did that team get more space … and not us?

CS has petitioned for more space. 

So has Engineering. 

Here’s the problem—- you can’t accommodate both requests without either rethinking your layout or adding more space. 

So you dig into the numbers to see the utilization of each team: 

Workplace utilization of neighborhoods in your SF office
Peak utilization by team neighborhood

The graph above, broken down by neighborhood, shows a clear story. Not only does CS use their spaces more, but they’re trending upward. Their request is justified — they’re outgrowing their digs. 

Meanwhile, Engineering has more room to grow. They don’t need the additional space — and the data proves it. This gives you a chance to dig deeper into Engineering’s ask. Perhaps it’s not more space they need, but a different kind of space. Perhaps more workstations, more phone booths.

This is where gathering employee feedback helps bring context to the data. Maybe the Engineering team would rather come in on the days that fewer people are in the office, helping to get rid of that overcrowded feeling. 

Good news — your data can help them with that. 

Below it’s clear Tuesdays and Fridays see the fewest people (mid-week mountain, anyone?). 

Measuring the busiest day of the week at your workplace
Peak utilization WoW

Why are the conference rooms always full?

People are coming to the office to collaborate. 

This has apparently put a strain on your conference room occupancy. There are complaints that some conference rooms are never available when needed. 

You head to the data to figure this out. 

Measuring conference room utilization

The graph above shows that your 12-person conference room is underutilized. Small groups seem to be using it. Two things you can do with this information:

  1. If these complaints are coming from larger groups, make clear (with signage) that the 12-person room is for groups of 6 or more.
  2. If smaller groups are the ones complaining, split the room in half with movable walls. Your 12-person room just became two 6-person rooms. 

Regardless of your choice, you have the data to back your decision in the event someone complains about the change.

Go confidently with data

Change is hard. Inevitably, people will complain about the work you’re doing to create better spaces. But in this era of unpredictability, adapting an interactive mindset and workplace strategy are crucial. 

The most effective way to remove office politics from your workplace decision is through evidence. 

Measuring how people use our space arms you with that evidence.