RECAP: SXSW 2015 Interactive – “The Productive Workplace: UX, Technology and You”

At SXSW we spoke about how the process of UX design and how UX thinking could be used to create workplaces that people wanted to work in, as well as enabling them to get their job done.   For those that couldn’t make it to the session – here is a quick recap!

Why did UX become an Important Factor in Workplace?

Getting work done seems to have got really complicated.  Working on a presentation with colleagues seems to suddenly be a complex process of multiple meetings, versions, all on different mediums.  In fact studies have found that 84% of workers spend 1-3 hours working after business hours to make up for lost productivity while at work.  Other harrowing numbers such as the fact that 30% of a meeting is actually spend on the task it was meant to, all show a trend that a lot of time is lost sorting, searching and prepping – to then get to the actual work.

Workplace Experience itself has changed.  We have lately seen the rise in connection between employee experience and customer experience as well as seeing studies that demonstrate higher earnings per share when employees are engaged.  Today, it is about empowering users to be productive and feel engaged.

Thirdly, business changed, experience mattered. The paradigm changed – before people were tethered to their desks, or came in because the network was better and enabled them to be productive.  Now, people can bring in their own technology to the workplace, they can access their data anywhere and their experience at home can be configured exactly as they like it.  How can offices compete?  Enter…the experience designer.  The roles growth in software has been rapid, now design thinkers are also playing a role as a cohesive glue function between various functions in business to think through the whole experience end to end.

Taking into Account both Productivity and Engagement

UX design in workplace means understanding the end-to-end flow of the employees through their interaction with the space, and optimizing it for them to be productive.  A great way to do this is to look for moments in the flow where they are hindered from being productive and turn them into productive moments.  We used our framework – Experience Flow OptimizationTM, to achieve this.

It is important to also expand the meaning of productivity to being able to do what the user intends to do in the space. Therefore, with this meaning, relaxing in a space designed for taking breaks is productive at taking a break.

Also knowing what factors actually make up an experience for someone in the workplace is key.  We used out Experience Factor DecompositionTM framework to analyze this and identify exactly what contributed to workplace satisfaction.  We found 5 key factors, which included both culture and flexibility. 

Beware of the Perception Gap

The perception gap happens when the business thinks one thing, and the users another. The business thinks they have designed and implemented a solution “checking all the boxes”, but the solution is just not working for the user.  We spoke more on this topic in our article on workplace self-hacks.

The experience designer has to balance all of these out – the business metrics, and the experience measures to provide a solution.

Using UX Thinking in Workplace Design

There are many UX activities and approaches that we found useful in designing workspaces that were both functional and engaging –

·      Capturing a deep understanding of users through observation and interviews.

·      Personas and needs.

·      Proof of concepts and experimentation.

·      Feedback loops.

·      End user focused delivery.

·      Management of Change for adoption.

It enabled us to use human data, to make better decisions on what we were implementing.  After all, if you spend money designing and creating a space that no one uses, the money is wasted.  We cover the process in more detail in our SXSW follow up article.

How this Helped the Business and the Users

Using UX thinking enabled us to design for both profit and happiness.  It enabled us to make better decisions – not spend more, but spend smarter, as well as driving alignment with the various business functions that were stakeholders in workplace design and implementation.  We saw both an increase in space utilization (business happy as they get their return on investment) and employee satisfaction (user happy).