Creating Data Transparency in Real Estate: Challenges & Tips

The common challenges that teams face when creating transparent data and insights for real estate teams.

Creating Data Transparency in Real Estate: Challenges & Tips
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters / Unsplash

We’ve all been told that data is vital to the future of workplace and measuring outcomes.  I would say that not nearly as much has been said or written about some of the common challenges with getting from just having data to actually being able to use it.  In this article I want to outline some of those common challenges and then in a follow up we’ll be talking about taking that data and actually interpreting it.

Where is Your data?

When speaking with teams about data in the workplace, the most common issue I’ve found is the sheer number of systems that teams work in on a day to day basis. They have some information in spreadsheets, standalone systems, pdfs, and even a workplace app. The worst part?  None of those systems are connected.

That presents a huge challenge for any team. The data needed to fully understand how their workplace is performing may be scattered across many systems and may even be in systems that are siloed to other teams. These circumstances create a real blocker for teams that want to understand workplace performance.

What are We Measuring?

The next challenge I see teams commonly face when it comes to data, is determining what they’re actually measuring.  You can measure a hundred different factors across a company.  But without knowing what success looks like you won’t be able to create the right combination of data to actually get the insights you wanted.

Creating these common measures or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can be a challenge for many teams.  Often, workplace groups are comprised of teams that have varying business drivers.  So, while executives may care about attendance, the IT team might care about technology utilization, and the facilities team cares about ticket response times. All of these require understanding who is coming to a physical workplace, but they look at different aspects.  Seeing the common thread through these is something teams have to work to discover.

Taking a Moment for Cross-Functional Alignment

To expand on the point above, it’s rare to find a workplace team that has all of the functions that affect employee experience under one umbrella.  Usually, real estate, workplace, and HR might be under one org, and one team like IT is under another org.  When this happens, you can wind up in a situation where your teams have one business driver or focus for how you’re measuring success, and the IT team has a totally different focus or driver.

When this is the case, it’s important to work cross-functionally with that team to align before you go charging forward with any efforts. Not only are you looking to ensure you can move forward successfully and collect the information you need, but you also want to ensure you’re not duplicating efforts and, therefore, wasting company resources. Taking the time to do this can ensure you are being responsible and also build a lot of trust with your partners.

Analysis (Paralysis)

Once you align and manage to connect all the data together and create a set of KPIs they still have the difficult task of interpreting that information.  While people often think of data as a source of truth, it’s often more like reading a book.  You and I may read the same words, but we could garner two different meanings from the text.

This can lead to teams debating for weeks about what the data means and then continuing to be paralyzed, needing “more evidence” to support a decision. This challenge is rooted in an issue that we don’t speak about that often: most workplace data is about past behavior.

When running a bespoke analysis of information, you look at what has happened and assume a future continuation of that same behavior if all other factors stay the same. When we have real-time data streaming into a collective system, we can see behavior in real-time and watch the effects of changes we make to a space. This alleviates the aforementioned issue, but we’ll get into that in the next article.

Why Transparency is Important

With all these challenges, you might be left asking, are the insights from all this data collection worth it? I’d argue yes. For too long, we’ve been flying blind in the workplace and hoping that what we do makes a difference. Meanwhile, executives increasingly want to know the return on investment (ROI) for workplace efforts.

Meeting that demand is no longer optional for many teams and so creating transparent information that has been cleaned and interpreted for teams to measure outcomes clearly is a critical path task.  Building with transparency leads to greater trust within teams and organizations.  In my next article, I’ll dive into how teams can overcome some of these challenges and move into a stronger mode of insight development.