Corporate real estate managers now have or soon will have access to all kinds of data regarding how well space is being utilized. Beacons and sensors can tell us, for example, when and how conference rooms, private offices, and common areas are being used. They can tell us what temperatures employees prefer, the noise levels, even whether or not the space was being used productively.

But when does information that is useful to have, become an invasion of privacy to divulge? 

A recent survey conducted by CoreNet Global, along with Steelcase and Radius Global confirmed that real estate managers highly value information that helps them understand space allocation, such as knowing how many of each types of space are needed, patterns of space usage over time, the type — and quality — of work being conducted.

Employees value other things more, such as having the ability to match their desired work mode with the appropriate space and improving the quality of their interactions with coworkers.

The conclusion of this survey are that if you’re going track data, and it is tracked anonymously, employees will go along with it if they know the purpose and the solutions that are being offered in response. And, one-time tracking is more acceptable than continuous, real-time tracking. Some people, even, see an advantage to being monitored if it would help them to be more productive.  

We do know that there is a gap between the digital scenarios favored by real estate and facilities managers, and those valued by employees. And we know that the physical environment is more fluid and flexible than it used to be, so that those gaps could be tightened, increasing employee satisfaction, without threats to privacy. 

But it will be a tightrope. We’ll continue to track this very delicate balance.