Did you know that a chameleon communicates through his skin colour? Most people think these creatures have a huge ability to adapt. But in fact the opposite is the case: a chameleon’s colour actually reflects its mood. A brightly-coloured chameleon is quite stressed, and a black one is irritable. This communication is always accurate; if a mood changes, the skin colour can change within twenty seconds. What if you had continuous insight into the mood of your staff?
One thing is certain: if you knew how your staff felt, creating the ideal workplace would be a whole lot easier. Unfortunately it’s not that easy to read our moods and needs from our bodies. In fact, you’re often not even aware of your actual needs yourself. And when it comes to the ideal workplace things are even trickier: here our needs and preferences are changing throughout the day. So for instance if you’re reading a complicated report, you want a calm environment, where for routine tasks it’s actually the activity around you which you may feel is pleasant. To gain a better understanding of these changing preferences, environments and employee health, several Dutch organisations launched a pilot project, including Hanzehogeschool Groningen, ENGIE, Health2Work, Measuremen, Menzis and Planon: Healthy Workplace.
Research into a range of factors
Various office environment factors were measured during this pilot, including noise levels, temperature, humidity and the carbon dioxide emissions in an area. Employees are generally not aware of these factors, although they do certainly have a significant effect on their well-being. For example, in an area with high carbon dioxide emissions staff may feel drowsy and will have greater difficulty concentrating. That’s why the research also charts the mood conditions of employees, using questionnaires. So for instance possible links become apparent between external factors and employee well-being. By wearing a ‘Fitbit’ (a type of sports-watch), staff also gain an insight into their physical reactions, such as heartbeat and calorie consumption.
‘Internet of Things: from buzzword to opportunity'
For the last few years, the ‘Internet of Things’ and ‘Smart Buildings’ have both been buzzwords on everyone’s lips. Within the field of Facility and Real Estate Management, the discussion focuses on how to make the workplace more cost efficient, effective, and customer-oriented. (48:19 English)Watch webinar
Ultimately all the data from the environment is translated into a digital map. Not only does the building manager thus gain an insight into the availability of spaces, but also into the various environmental factors in each space. This information is processed in a digital dashboard, which can also be consulted by staff. In the near future employees will also be able to use this system to discover what type of workplace suits them best for a specific need at a specific time. So it will be mainly up to them to make the connections between the measurements and their well-being. It’s only when employees become aware of this themselves, that they will discover which factors are their own determinants.
This way the employees themselves can manage their own needs, and the organisation will reap the fruits of this. Among these will be higher employee satisfaction with their working environment for instance, and increased productivity.
This is how ING achieved a 200-million-euro sales growth in the relevant business unit with its ‘wellbeing programme’. Just as with the Healthy Workplace, the focus of this programme is on recognising and measuring the emotions and health of employees.
So would you like to be able to measure the emotions and health of your colleagues? Then watch out particularly for people wearing bright or black outfits...