The flexible power of feedback
Dr Curtis GubbView bio
Originally published in Property Week in May 2022.
With companies reducing space requirements to accommodate a staff more likely to work from home, tenants are starting to demand spaces that more ably accommodate flexible working and renewed focus on wellbeing in the workplace.
Within the office market, this has resulted in an increase in competition between landlords to attract tenants, and a heightened need to provide high quality spaces. As a result, it is vital to quantify how new and existing offices are performing currently, but also in the future. One option for measuring this is through the process of post-occupancy evaluation (POE).
POE is a way of gathering feedback, often used on more subjective elements like thermal comfort – an individual’s personal state-of-mind relating to surrounding environments, such as temperature and daylighting. The focus can be on numerous aspects including technical performance (systems or materials), environmental performance (energy, waste, water use), organisational, social, or economic performance.
By utilising a POE, ‘quality design’, which is often qualitative, can be justified quantitatively and monetised. Similarly, POE can measure how the building positively contributes to occupier productivity through design and environmental conditions.
NABERS UK, a recently introduced system for rating the energy efficiency of office buildings, currently places the onus on landlords to reduce energy alongside the industry’s holistic push towards net zero carbon. So being able to enable behaviour change among tenants to reduce their environmental impact is of paramount importance. Carrying out a POE can achieve just that, by enhancing awareness of sustainable features within the building and making staff more conscious of existing policies such as recycling and switching devices off when not in use.
It is recommended that a POE be carried out a minimum of one year after occupation, preferably alongside an evaluation pre-occupation and five years post. This will provide qualitative evidence on how the design performed, what was effective, and what was not. This may seem like a long process but as a landlord, building a portfolio of evaluations allows you to learn lessons and provide an effective narrative to attract and retain your tenants.